So I’ve been thinking about how different it is here in South Florida from our Bay Area digs in California and decided to try to qualitatively assess the differences. So here’s my California versus Florida matchup…

It’s certainly not exhaustive. To do so would have been too, well, exhausting. So instead I’ve tried simply to include information I found noteworthy or interesting. And surprisingly, I found more commonalities than expected. Hope you find it as interesting as I did while researching it…

CALIFORNIA, the golden state FLORIDA, the sunshine state
FLAGca-flag FLAGfl-flag
POPULATION: #1 in country, approx. 40 million POPULATION: #3 in country, approx. 20 million (but #1 in old people)
GEOGRAPHY: 3rd largest state in the U.S. in area, and contains both the highest point (Mount Whitney at 14,505 ft) and the lowest point (Death Valley at -279 ft) in the contiguous United States. GEOGRAPHY: has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, approximately 1,350 miles. Much of the state is at or near sea level, and on average is the flattest state in the country.
CULTURE: The culture of California is a Western culture, but also has many historic Hispanic influences. As a border and coastal state, the culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America and Asia. Often promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise, it is also regarded as a global trendsetter in both popular culture and politics, and is the birthplace of the film industry, the hippie counterculture, the Internet, and the personal computer. CULTURE: a reflection of multiple influences and inheritances: Native American, European American, Hispanic and Latino, and African American. Florida is distinctive for its large Cuban expatriate community, high population growth, and increasing environmental issues. It’s renowned for amusement parks, orange crops, the Kennedy Space Center, and as a popular destination for retirees. It is also internationally known for golf, tennis, auto racing and water sports. And of course, now, is most famous for Mar-a-Lago, the location of Trump’s “Winter White House.”
FLOWERca-poppy FLOWERfl-orange
LANGUAGES: English 57.4%; Spanish 28.5%; Tagalog 2.2%; Chinese 1.6%; Vietnamese 1.4%; Korean 1.1%; Cantonese 0.7%; Mandarin 0.5%; Armenian 0.5%; Persian 0.5%; Japanese 0.4%; Russian 0.4% LANGUAGES: English 73.4%; Spanish 19.5%; Haitian Creole 1.8%; French 0.6%; Portuguese 0.5%; German 0.4%; Tagalog/Vietnamese/Italian (tied) 0.3%
ECONOMY: 1st in GSP (gross state product), 2.5 Trillion (with a t). Finance, government, real estate services, technology, and professional, scientific and technical business services comprise 58%. Although it accounts for only 1.5 percent of the state’s economy, CA’s agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state. About one-quarter of the state’s economy is dependent on trade and international related commerce accounts for. As of December 2016, California has an unemployment rate of 5.5%. ECONOMY: 4th in GSP (gross state product), approx. 900 billion. Tourism, industry, construction, international banking, biomedical and life sciences, healthcare research, simulation training, aerospace and defense, and commercial space travel have contributed to the state’s economic development. Largest producer of citrus in the country. Florida is one of seven states that do not impose a personal income tax. As of December 2016, California has an unemployment rate of 4.9%.
HIGHER EDUCATION: the state possesses a three-system public higher education plan:

(1) The U.C. public university system with 10 campuses and a combined student body of 251,700 students in 2016. (2) Cal State or CSU – the largest four-year public university system in the U.S., composed of 23 campuses and 8 off-campus centers enrolling 460,200 students per year. (3) The CA Community Colleges System (CCCS) – 113 community colleges in 72 community college districts – the largest system of higher education in the world[citation needed] serving more than 2.4 million students with a wide variety of educational and career goals.

TOTAL STUDENTS in public higher education per year: approx 3.11 million (not including the private institutions, of which there are hundreds)


(1) The State University System consists of twelve universities and is governed by the FL Board of Governors. During the 2010 academic year, 312,216 students attended. (2) The Florida College System comprises 28 public community and state colleges. In 2011–12, enrollment consisted of more than 875,000 students. (3) The Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida is an association of 28 private, educational institutions in the state, reportedly serving over 133,700 students in 2014.

TOTAL STUDENTS in ALL higher education per year: approx 1.32 million

ECOLOGY:  California is one of the richest and most diverse parts of the world, and includes some of the most endangered ecological communities. The ecoregions of California can be grouped into four major groups: desert bioregions (such as the Mojave Desert), Mediterranean bioregions (such as the Central Valley), forested mountains (such as the Sierra Nevada), and coastal forests. The state boasts several superlatives in its collection of flora: the largest trees, the tallest trees, and the oldest trees. 28 National Parks. 92 Threatened & Endangered Species. ECOLOGY: Much of Florida has an elevation of less than 12 feet, including many populated areas. Therefore, it is susceptible to rising sea levels associated with global warming. Everglades National Park protects the southern 20 percent of the original Everglades. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. It has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, one of only three locations in the world to appear on all three lists. 11 National Parks. 47 Threatened & Endangered Species.
ENERGY: a low per capita energy user (196 million Btu per capita). Some of the most aggressive renewable energy goals in the country, with a target to obtain 33% of its electricity from renewables by 2020 for which it is currently on track. First state in the nation to get more than 5% of its electricity generation from solar energy. CO2 emissions have decreased 1.6% from 1990 to 2014. ENERGY: Florida is a low per capita energy user (207 million Btu per capita). Renewable energy accounted for 2.3% of Florida’s total net electricity generation in 2015, but nearly 9/10 of that renewable power came from biomass (ie – burning plant materials and other waste). CO2 emissions have increased 21% from 1990 to 2014.
WATER: California’s interconnected water system is the world’s largest, managing over 40,000,000 acre feet of water per year, centered on six main systems of aqueducts and infrastructure projects. Water use and conservation in California is a politically divisive issue, as the state experiences periodic droughts and has to balance the demands of its large agricultural and urban sectors, especially in the arid southern portion of the state. The environmental impact of agriculture, especially water consumption, is a major issue today. WATER: Florida is one of 14 states predicted to face “high risk” water shortages by the year 2050 (NRDC). The state’s water is primarily drawn from the Floridan Aquifer as well as from the St. Johns, Suwannee, and Ocklawaha rivers. Regional water conflicts stem primarily from the fact that the majority of the fresh water supply is found in the rural north, while the bulk of the population resides in the south. The environmental impact of agriculture, especially water pollution, is a major issue today.
CLIMATE: subarctic to subtropical California Climate CLIMATE: subtropical to tropical fl_koppen-svg
VOTERSca-voters VOTERSflorida-voters
2016 ELECTIONca-clinton 2016 ELECTIONfl-trump
GOVERNMENT: The state’s trend towards the Democratic Party and away from the Republican Party can be seen in state elections. From 1899 to 1939, California had Republican governors. Since 1990, California has generally elected Democratic candidates to federal, state and local offices, including current Governor Jerry Brown; however, the state has elected Republican Governors, though many of these, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, are considered moderate Republicans and more centrist than the national party. The Democrats also now hold a majority in both houses of the state legislature.

Fun Fact: In 1992, California became the first state to have a Senate delegation entirely composed of women.

GOVERNMENT:  From the 1930s through the 1960s, Florida was essentially a one-party state dominated by white conservative Democrats, but since the 1970s, these voters have largely shifted to the Republican Party, supporting Republican presidential candidates through the 20th century, except in 1976 and 1996, when the Democratic nominee was from the South. In the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Barack Obama carried the state as a northern Democrat, attracting high voter turnout especially among the young, Independents, and minority voters, of whom Hispanics comprise an increasingly large proportion, the first time since 1932, when Franklin D. Roosevelt carried the state.

Fun Fact: from 1988 to 2007 there were 800 federal corruption convictions, more than any other state.


The 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on April 18 with an estimated moment magnitude of 7.8. Devastating fires soon broke out in the city and lasted for several days. As a result, about 3,000 people died and over 80% of the city was destroyed.

At 11:57PM on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam northwest of downtown Los Angeles catastrophically failed, and the resulting flood took the lives of as many as 600 people. Considered to be one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century and remains the second-greatest loss of life in California’s history.


The Okeechobee hurricane, also known as San Felipe Segundo hurricane, was one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in the recorded history of the North Atlantic basin. The only major hurricane of the 1928 season, the system caused $100 million in damage and at least 4,079 deaths.

Florida was the site of what was then the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which caused more than $25 billion in damage when it struck in August 1992; it held that distinction until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina surpassed it. Hurricane Wilma — the second most expensive hurricane in Florida history — landed just south of Marco Island in October 2005.

GUN RIGHTS: The gun laws of California are some of the most restrictive in the United States. Passing a written test is required for the purchase of a handgun. Private sales of firearms must be done through a licensed dealer. All firearm sales are recorded by the state, and have a ten-day waiting period. Possession of automatic firearms, and of short-barreled shotguns and rifles, is generally prohibited. GUN RIGHTS: Florida is considered accommodating to guns, by national standards. It is a felony under Florida law to create, maintain or publish any list, record or registry of legally owned firearms or law-abiding firearm owners. Allows concealed possession of handguns, but not long guns or machine guns. Concealed carry only; no open carry of firearms allowed, even with license, except when hunting, fishing, camping, or while practice shooting and while traveling to and from those activities.
DISNEY LAND: Opened in Anaheim, California on July 17, 1955. It is the only theme park designed and built under the direct supervision of Walt Disney. Since its opening, it’s undergone a number of expansions and  renovations, including the forthcoming Star Wars Land in 2019. Disneyland has a larger cumulative attendance than any other theme park in the world, with over 650 million guests since it first opened. In 2013, the park hosted approximately 16.2 million guests, making it the third most visited park in the world that year. DISNEY WORLD: An entertainment complex in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Orlando and Kissimmee, consisting of four theme parks, 27 themed resort hotels, 9 non–Disney hotels, two water parks, four golf courses and other recreational venues. The resort is the flagship destination of Disney’s worldwide corporate enterprise, first opened on October 1, 1971. It is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an attendance of over 52 million people annually.
INSURANCE: Expensive. INSURANCE: Even more expensive. Florida is second only to Texas in the percentage of its citizens without health insurance.

all of this information was pulled from Wikipedia, or from footnoted sources on Wikipedia (i.e. – energy stats came from, US Energy Information Administration)