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Florida’s Tampa a City of Sunshine and Lightning

By Jane Morse | Staff Writer | 01 June 2012
Downtown Tampa (Christopher Hollis/Wdwic Pictures)

Downtown Tampa

Washington — The thousands of visitors who will descend on Tampa, Florida, in August for the Republican National Convention will discover a city famous for its sun and its lightning.

Florida is known as the “Sunshine State,” and Tampa, located on the Gulf of Mexico, enjoys bright, sunny skies for most days each year. With an average temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius), Tampa is a paradise for the outdoor enthusiast.

Meteorologists also award the city the dubious distinction of having the highest number of lightning strikes of any city in the United States — a fact its professional hockey team has embraced. The Tampa Bay Lightning, nicknamed the Bolts, sport a stylized lightning bolt on the players’ jerseys.

Some historians believe the word “Tampa” comes from the language of the Calusa American Indians who once lived in the area. “Tampa” might mean “sticks of fire” — possibly a reference to the many lightning strikes.

The generally beautiful weather makes the city a great venue for sporting events, and it is home to a number of sports teams in addition to its National Hockey League team. These include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League, the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League.

Tampa is the third most populous city in Florida. Its economy depends on tourism, agriculture, construction, finance, health care, government, technology, and its port, according to the city’s Chamber of Commerce.

Industries in life sciences, nanotechnology, aviation, aerospace, homeland security and defense make Tampa the gateway to Florida’s High Tech Corridor, the Chamber says.

Tampa boasts a diverse selection of excellent restaurants and some of Florida’s best attractions, including the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Aquarium, the Lowry Park Zoo and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, a theme park that attracts millions of visitors each year.

RICH HISTORY, DIVERSE POPULATION

Especially noteworthy is the Tampa Bay History Center, a state-of-the-art, 54,000-square-meter facility that takes visitors through 12,000 years of Florida’s history, starting with Tampa’s indigenous peoples, who relied on the sea for their livelihood. The first European contact came in the 16th century with Spanish expeditions looking to establish colonies in the New World.

Great Britain acquired Florida in 1763, but Spain regained the territory in 1783. Finally, in 1821, the United States purchased Florida from Spain. Florida became the 27th U.S. state in 1845.

Although Florida is known as a retirement destination for many Americans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 90 percent of Tampa’s population is under age 65, and nearly 23 percent of its population is under age 18.

Tampa’s 2010 population of 335,709 is diverse. Recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics show the largest minority groups are African Americans and Hispanics.

The 2012 Republican National Convention, scheduled to be held in Tampa August 27–30, will host 2,286 delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five territories. The convention also will include about 15,000 credentialed members of the media.

The Republican National Convention for the first time is hosting a “Convention Without Walls.” Interested participants can install a Facebook application and get immediate access to exclusive content, according to the convention’s coordinators.

Hockey player holding stick (Wknight94)

Chris Gratton, of the Tampa Bay Lightning, wears the hockey team’s jersey featuring a lightning bolt.