Miami

By: Kamyar Shah

Miami Florida, a major city in Southeastern Florida is the largest city in the South Florida metropolitan area, which includes 3 neighboring counties, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County. Miami is currently undergoing a major building boom with over 80 high rise towers under construction and worldwide, Miami currently ranks second for the most buildings under construction that will be over 500 feet tall.

Miami was incorporated in July 1896. There were only 300 or so voters. By 1940 the population had grown to 172,172. Census Bureau estimates for Miami proper and the surrounding counties making up the larger metropolitan area was 5.4 million.

Miami's population growth is described as explosive and has been driven by internal migration other areas of the country and immigration. Latin American and Caribbean islanders heavily influence greater Miami's culture. Many of these residents speak either Spanish or Haitian Creole.

Miami is regarded as a world city. With cultural ties to all of the Americas and especially the Latin Americas, Miami is an important city in the Hispanic world. Many other foreign countries maintain consulates in Miami.

Miami International Airport and the Port of Miami are among the nation's busiest ports of entry. Additionally downtown Miami has the largest concentration of international banks in the country.

Tourism is also an important industry. The beaches of Greater Miami are beautiful and draw visitors from all around the nation and around the world. The Art Deco nightclub district in South Beach is regarded as glamorous. Visitors are also drawn to the climate.

During the cold winter months many retirees leave the frosty and snowbound regions and move into apartments or condos to spend the winter basking the 70 to 80 degree average temperatures. Most of the year is warm and humid and summers are almost identical to the climate in the Caribbean tropics. There is only one recorded day with a temperature in triple digits. July 21, 192 had a record temperature of 100 degrees. High summer humidity often boosts the heat index to about 110 degrees. On January 20, 1977 Miami experienced the only recorded snowfall.

Miami's location between two bodies of water makes Miami statistically the most likely major city in the world to be hit by hurricanes. Miami has suffered much from Hurricanes Cleo (1964), Betsy (1965), Andrew (1992) Irene (1999) and Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2205. But the citizens of Miami will not be defeated by wind and rain; they clean up and rebuild.

The cultural base of Miami is rapidly shifting. Non-Hispanic whites make up only 11.8 % of the city's population with 40.9% Hispanic. 66% of Miami's populations speaks Spanish, 25.5% English and 5% French. Although English, Spanish and French Creole are the official languages, other languages that are spoken throughout the city include Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian and Russian. While Miami is regarded as a city of mainly Hispanic and Caribbean immigrants, the area is home to of the largest Israeli and Russian communities.

In addition to being home to major organized professional sports teams in Football, Basketball, Hockey and Baseball Miami is also home to Paso Fino horses where competitions are held at Tropical Park Equestrian Center.

Miami Dade Public Schools is the largest school district in Florida and the fourth largest in the United Sates with a student enrollment of 414,128. 52% of students are Hispanic, 25% African American and 6% non-white of other minorities. This is one of the few public school districts offering optimal bilingual education. Florida International University and Miami Dade College are both public secondary schools in the city and University of Miami, Florida Memorial University, Johnson and Wales University are private Universities. Barry University and St Thomas University are both Private Catholic institutions.

Miami International Airport is one of the busiest international airports in the world. They cater to over 35 million passengers a year. It is recognized as the single largest gateway for American Airlines. Miami is the third largest international port of entry for foreign air passengers third only to New York's JFK International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, It is the seventh largest such gateway in the world featuring non stop flights to over seventy international cities in North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Miami is home to the Port of Miami, the largest cruise ship port in the world having served 3,605,201 passengers in 2005. It is also one of the nation's busiest cargo ports; the port covers 518 acres and has 7 passenger terminals. The top port imports are alcoholic beverages, concrete, bricks, tile, cement, clay, and stone. Most common exports are cargo, paper newsprints towels and textiles. The most imports come from China and the most exports go to Honduras. Eight cruise lines sail form the port of Miami: Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and Windjammer Barefoot Cruises.

Local Public transportation operated by Miami-Dade Transit includes Metrobus, Metro Mover, and Metrorail. Metrorail is an elevated rapid transit system. There is also Tri rail, a suburban rail system that connects the major cities and airports of the South Florida metropolitan area. The Metrobus system is for those seeking destinations not served by main transit lines. There are several projects to expand the systems by funding from sales tax surcharge and a new light rail system is proposed to connect Downtown Miami with Miami Beach.

The final station for Amtrak's Atlantic Coast services is located in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, Florida. Miami Dade County is served by four Interstate Highways ( I-75, I-95, I-195, I-395) and several US Highways including U.S. Routes 1,27,41, and 441. For the second year in a row Miami has been named as having the rudest people in the United States.

Miami has a significant place in pop culture. Many television shows have been based in Miami. Nip/Tuck; CSI: Miami are currently filmed there. The Jackie Gleason show, Good Morning, Miami, The Golden Girls, and Surfside 6 were all based there but none did more for changing Miami's image to "cool" than Miami Vice. The popular Animal Planet reality show Miami Animal Police is also taped from there.

There are many production studios in town filming Latin television and movies. In Hialeah and Doral there are many television programs filmed in Spanish. The most famous of these, S`bado Gigante, is a Saturday night variety show and seen through the U.S., South America, and Europe, Miami has been the backdrop for several movies as well. From lighthearted fare such as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective to the scorching drama, Scarface.

The music scene is strongly influenced by the Latin American immigrants who brought dances such as the rumba from their homeland. These dances are very popular in American culture.

The Latin American disco group, Foxy, KC and the Sunshine Bad and Miami area natives George McCrae and Teri De Sario rose to popularity in the 1970 disco era. In the 1980's Gloria Estefan hit pop music with the Cuban oriented hits "Conga" and "Bad Boys". Most recently hip-hop made a big splash with artist including 2Live Crew, J. T. Money, Trick Daddy, Trina, and the late DJ Uncle Al. Will Smith based the song "Miami" in his "Big Willie Style" album The Latin star Shakira was given the key to the city in 2006.

One of the most endearing attractions the Miami area is the Seaquarium. If Dolphins excite you then this is the place! Dolphins walking on water, sea lions, endangered sea turtles make this a world class marine life entertainment center. There are eight different marine animal shows and a wonderful summer camp program allowing children to have educational activities and hands on interaction with Dolphins.

What may not be so well known about the Seaquarium is that the beautiful facilities and ample field space offer an exciting alternative venue to host convention group receptions, company picnics, and team building affairs.

The Seaquarium sits on a 38 acre tropical paradise with spectacular views overlooking Biscayne Bay and offers a wonderful Swim With Dolphins adventure. Participants have a unique opportunity to take part in this exciting program, which is designed to teach about the physiology, behavior and natural history of dolphins in an experience not available through printed pages.

Guests do not only see but also may touch and learn what the dolphin is all about. You are invited to join the Training staff for an exciting two hour program that offers an insightful glance at dolphin behavior. Uncover interesting facts about these extraordinary animals then slip into a wetsuit and follow trainers into the water for a one on one interaction with a dolphin.

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