Florida's Lower Gulf Coast is a series of layers: on the outside, a string of barrier islands with popular and crowded beaches; next, a series of large and small communities anchored by Sarasota in the north and Naples in the south; and finally, virtually empty rural areas that are largely sawgrass wilderness.
Virtually all of Florida south of Lake Okeechobee and outside the coast strips is taken up by the Everglades. This "River of Grass" is crossed by I-75 in the famed "Alligator Alley" that runs between Ft. Lauderdale and Naples. But from Naples north along the coast is a virtually unbroken string of small towns and cities, joined together by their proximity to the Gulf and the fishing, shipping, and tourism industries that developed and sustains this region.
Sarasota is considered the major cultural center of the region. This city developed a reputation as an artists' colony in the 1920s, and today the town is known worldwide for its music festivals, its ballet, opera, and theater. Farther south, Port Charlotte, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers are the major urban centers.
South Florida News from The Sun-Sentinel
Bush likely earned less, paid higher tax rate than Clintons
Jul 1, 2015 7:25 am
In the first presidential race since Democrats cast the GOP nominee as an out-of-touch millionaire, Republican Jeb Bush is aggressively trying to flip the script.
Bush tax returns: Big income, big taxes since 1981
Jul 1, 2015 7:16 am
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has earned nearly $28 million since leaving the Florida governor's mansion and paid an effective federal income tax rate of roughly 36 percent in the past th...
Tampa police attempt to combat rising violence
Jul 1, 2015 7:03 am
Police will use federal grant money to increase patrols in East Tampa and West Tampa to aid in the department's fight against a surge in violence this year.
Cops: Suspects skipped out on grocery tab, left girls behind
Jul 1, 2015 7:03 am
Authorities are looking for two women say they left their 11-year-old daughters at a grocery store while trying to skip out on their bill.
Florida county removes Confederate flag
Jul 1, 2015 7:02 am
A Confederate flag flying in front of a north Florida county building has been removed after local officials decided to take it down.
Daytona offers American flags in exchange program
Jul 1, 2015 6:26 am
Daytona International Speedway will not ban the Confederate flag from track property this weekend, but will offer the American flag to those who wish to fly it on property.
Florida attorney who led gambling wants sentence thrown out
Jun 30, 2015 10:57 pm
An attorney convicted of leading a $300 million gambling ring that used a veterans charity as a front is asking an appeals court to throw out his 6-year prison sentence.
Judge blocks new Florida law that delays abortions 1 day
Jun 30, 2015 10:37 pm
A Florida judge on Tuesday blocked a new state law that requires women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion, but state officials quickly appealed the decision.
Appeals court: Former BP engineer should get new trial
Jun 30, 2015 10:07 pm
A former BP engineer is entitled to a new trial on an obstruction of justice charge stemming from an investigation of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
Growlers, new budget, tax cuts part of new Florida laws
Jun 30, 2015 9:57 pm
Florida legislators passed more than 200 bills this year during their regular 60-day session and 19-day special session. Most of those bills take effect on Wednesday, the start of the state's fiscal y...