Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida

Southwest Florida is a region of Florida , United States located along its gulf coast, south of the Tampa Bay area, west of Lake Okeechobee and mostly north of the Everglades. It consists of five coastal counties from Manatee County south to Collier County, although it sometimes is considered to include three rural counties inland, and the thinly populated mainland section of Monroe County.

The most populous county in the region is Lee County, and the region's largest city is Cape Coral with an estimated population of 151,389 as of 2006.


Southwest Florida was largely ignored by commercial developers until the late 1800s, and as such, lacks much of the heavier development present in other parts of Florida, such as that found in the central or southern regions of the state. In recent years however, there has been a major real estate boom focusing on downtown Fort Myers (high-rise residential condominiums); southern Lee County (commercial development and high-technology); eastern Collier County (residential development); and eastern parts of Bradenton

Overall, the region notably suffers from urban sprawl; however, numerous efforts in recent years have been made to remedy this situation, especially as the urbanized area of the coastal counties pushes eastward in to agricultural land and the sensitive Everglades.

Inland counties (De Soto, Hendry and Glades Counties) are notably rural, with the primary economic driver being agriculture. Important products grown in this area include tomatoes, beef, sugarcane, and citrus products including oranges. Agricultural harvesting in Southwest Florida employs approximately 16,000 seasonal workers, 90 percent of which are thought to be migrants. []


Each county in the region has its own county government. Within each county, there are also self-governing cities, towns and villages. The remaining majority of land in each county is controlled directly by the county government. It is also very common for incorporated municipalities to contract county services in order to save costs and avoid redundancy.

Regional Transportation


Southwest Florida is served by several major highways, including the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) and the Interstate 75 freeway, both of which connect the area to Tampa to the north, and Fort Lauderdale/Miami to the east. Long-term cooperative infrastructure planning is coordinated by the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council ( [ web site] ), and in heavily populated Lee County, the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Greyhound Lines serves several locations in Southwest Florida, including Bradenton, Fort Myers, Naples, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda and Sarasota.


Southwest Florida International Airport, located in South Fort Myers, served over 7.6 million passengers in 2006 and offers non-stop flights to 3 cities in Europe and 2 in Canada, in addition to 36 domestic airports. The area's secondary airport, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, served 1.42 million passengers in 2006 [] .


The Port of Manatee provides a full range of port services for commercial, industrial and cruise ship purposes.


Seminole Gulf Railway provides freight services throughout Southwest Florida.


Tourism is a major economic driver in the area. In addition, many seasonal residents live in the area during the winter months, as temperatures in south Florida stay very moderate during that time of year.

Major attractions/destinations:
*Beaches in the following locales::*Bonita Beach:*Cape Romano:*Fort Myers Beach:*Longboat Key, offshore from Bradenton and Sarasota:*Marco Island, offshore from Naples:*Naples:*Sanibel and Captiva Islands, offshore from South Fort Myers (renowned for the quality of shells that wash ashore):*Sarasota:*Siesta Key:*Ten Thousand Islands:*Venice (renowned for sharks' teeth that wash ashore)

*Attractions including::*Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation (where the Seminole nation operates a sizable casino):*Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers:*Lake Okeechobee renowned for fishing and ecotourism.:*Naples Botanical Garden:*Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens:*Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota:*St. Armand's Circle in Sarasota

Spring training

Florida is the traditional home for Major League Baseball spring training, with teams informally organized into the "Grapefruit League." As of 2004, Southwest Florida hosts the following major league teams for spring training:

*Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers
*Cincinnati Reds in Sarasota
*Minnesota Twins in South Fort Myers
*Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton
*Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte (beginning 2009)

Area codes

*Area code 239 Collier & Lee Counties (Portions of Hendry, Charlotte and Monroe Counties)
*Area code 941 Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota Counties
*Area code 863 Hendry and Glades Counties

outhwest Florida News

* [ Southwest Florida News]

Collier County News

* [ Thousands of Collier County news articles]

The News-Press

* [ The News Press]

Florida Weekly

* [ Florida Weekly]

Local Television Stations

*WXCW "CW 6"
*"WNFM" "My TV 8"

outhwest Florida Information

* Southwest Florida Live Music & Musicians Group
* Southwest Florida Information
* Southwest Florida's Complete Guide


Major incorporated cities

*Bradenton, Manatee County
*Bonita Springs, Lee County
*Cape Coral, Lee County
*Fort Myers, Lee County
*Naples, Collier County
*North Port, Sarasota County
*Sarasota, Sarasota County
*Punta Gorda, Charlotte County

Major unincorporated communities

"Communities listed have a population greater than 30,000 according to the 2000 census."
*Lehigh Acres, Lee County
*North Fort Myers, Lee County
*Port Charlotte, Charlotte County
*South Fort Myers, Lee County
*LaBelle, Hendry County


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