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South Florida today is a fascinating study in, well, everything. It seems as if the state is always in the news for something, and with this timeline, you'll understand why.

  • 1980 -- Race riots tear apart Miami. The Mariel Boatlift brings 140,000 Cubans to Florida. The Miami Seaquarium celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • 1983 -- Thirty-eight overseas highway bridges from Key Largo to Key West are completed under the Florida Keys Bridge Replacement Program.
  • 1984 -- The Miami Metro Rail, the only inner-city, elevated rail system in Florida, begins service in May.
  • 1986 -- Treasure hunter Mel Fisher continues to salvage vast amounts of gold and silver from his discovery of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Atocha, which sank in 1622 during a hurricane off Key West. The television series Miami Vice continues to capture the nation's imagination, revitalizing interest and tourism for South Florida.
  • 1987 -- U.S. Census Bureau estimates indicate that Florida has surpassed Pennsylvania to become the fourth most populous state in the nation. The ranking will not become official until the bureau publishes its report in early 1988. It is predicted that Florida will be the third most populous state by the year 2000.
  • 1990 -- Panama's governor Manuel Noriega is brought to Miami in January for trial on drug charges. Joe Robbie, Miami Dolphins founder, dies in January.
  • 1991 -- Queen Elizabeth II visits Miami. Five Navy bombers found by treasure salvagers are determined not to be the "Lost Squadron" of Bermuda Triangle fame that went down in 1945 off the coast of Florida. Miami and Denver are awarded new national Major League Baseball franchises. The 1990 Federal Census puts Florida's population at 12,937,926, a 34% increase from 1980.
  • 1992 -- Homestead and adjacent South Florida are devastated on August 24 by the (then) costliest natural disaster in American history, Hurricane Andrew, demanding billions in aid. There were 58 deaths directly or indirectly related to Andrew. The hurricane destroyed 25,000 homes and damaged 10,000 others. Twenty-two thousand federal troops were deployed. Shelters housed 80,000 persons.

    Among African Americans elected to Congress was Carrie Meek of Miami. Sixty-six in 1993, her political career saw her elected first to the Florida House of Representatives, next the Florida Senate, and then the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • 1993 -- Janet Reno, state attorney for Dade County (Miami) for 15 years, is named attorney general of the U.S. by President Bill Clinton; Reno is the first woman to so serve in U.S. history. Although a pro-choice Democrat, she managed to win reelection four times in a conservative stronghold, the last time without opposition.
  • 1996 -- Miami turns 100.
  • 2000 -- Florida became the battleground of the controversial 2000 U.S. presidential election, when a count of the popular votes held on Election Day was extremely close and mired in accusations of fraud and manipulation. Subsequent recount efforts degenerated into arguments over mispunched ballots, "hanging chads," and controversial decisions by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and the Florida Supreme Court. Ultimately, the United States Supreme Court ended all recounts and let stand the official count by Harris, which was accepted by Congress.
  • 2003 -- The Florida Marlins win the World Series.
  • 2004 -- George W. Bush wins the presidential election again. His brother Jeb celebrates in Florida's State Capitol.
  • 2006 -- The Miami Heat win the NBA championships.
  • 2007 -- Jeb Bush vacates the governor's office, which is taken over by Charlie Crist.
  • 2008 -- Florida continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the country. The economy still depends greatly on tourism, but expanding industries in business and manufacturing are strengthening its growth potential. State leaders are working on problems created due to huge population increases and environmental concerns.
  • 2009 -- In October 2009, Florida, along with California and Nevada, posted the highest foreclosure rates in the country. To make matters worse, unemployment rates in the state skyrocketed to over 11%. For the first time in over 60 years, Florida experienced a population decline.
  • 2010 -- Like the calm after the storm, South Florida ekes carefully out of its economic slumber. If funds from the Travel Promotions Act aren't enough to drive tourism, LeBron James' move to the Miami Heat is seen in some circles as the panacea to all economic problems. A massive spill of oil from a BP oil rig in the Gulf raises fears of sullied coastlines (one charter boat company in the Keys sued the oil company for even creating the "perception" of oil from the spill), though no such effects are evident as of July 2010.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.