Fort Lauderdale, known as the "Venice of America" due to its expansive and intricate canal system, is a city in Broward County, Florida, United States. The city's population is described as metropolitan, where diverse culture is commonplace. According to 2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the city had a population of 185,804. It is the county seat of Broward County. Fort Lauderdale is a principal city of the South Florida metropolitan area, which is home to 5,463,857 people.
The city is a major tourist destination, with 10.35 million visitors in 2006. The city is a major yachting center, with 42,000 resident yachts and 100 marinas and boatyards. Fort Lauderdale and its suburbs host over 4100 restaurants and 120 nightclubs.
Fort Lauderdale is named after a series of forts built by the United States during the Second Seminole War. However, development of the city did not begin until 50 years after the forts were abandoned at the end of the conflict. Three forts named "Fort Lauderdale" were constructed; the first was at the fork of the New River, the second at Tarpon Bend, in what is now known as the Sailboat Bend neighborhood, and the third near the site of the Bahia Mar Marina. The forts took their name from Major William Lauderdale, who was the commander of the detachment of soldiers who built the first fort.
Fort Lauderdale lies on the border between the Humid subtropical climate (Cfa) zone and the tropical savannah climate (Aw) zone, with hot, humid summers and mild winters. It has a two season wet-dry climate with hot, wet summers and cooler, dry winters. 69% of the city's annual rainfall occurs during the five month summer period. The hurricane season is between 1 June and 30 November, with major hurricanes most likely to affect Florida in September and October The most recent storms to directly affect the city were Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma, both of which struck the city in 2005; other direct hits were Hurricane Cleo in 1965, Hurricane King in 1950 and the 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane.
Fort Lauderdale's economy is heavily reliant on tourism. During the 1970s, the city was known as a spring break destination for college students. Cruise ships and nautical recreation provide the basis for much of the revenue raised by tourism. Fort Lauderdale now attracts a more sophisticated and affluent tourist, while largely ignoring the dwindling college crowd. There is a convention center located west of the beach and southeast of downtown, with 600,000 square feet (55,742 m²) of space, including a 200,000 square foot (18,581 m²) main exhibit hall. Approximately 30% of the city's 10 million annual visitors attend conventions at the center.
The downtown area, especially around Las Olas Boulevard, has seen dramatic growth in the past decade, and now hosts many new hotels and high-rise condominium developments. The downtown area is the largest in Broward County, although there are other smaller cities in the county with commercial centers. Other improvements include a wide array of new boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants.
Fort Lauderdale is a major manufacturing and maintenance center for yachts. The boating industry is responsible for over 108,000 jobs in the county. With its many canals, and proximity to the Bahamas and Caribbean, it is also a popular yachting vacation stop, and home port for 42,000 boats, and approximately 100 marinas and boatyards. Additionally, the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world's largest boat show, brings over 125,000 people to the city each year.
Companies based in the Fort Lauderdale area include AutoNation, Citrix Systems, DHL Express, Spirit Airlines, and National Beverage Corporation. The largest employers in the county are Tenet Healthcare, which employs 5,000 people; American Express, which employs 4,200; The Continental Group, which employs 3,900; Motorola, which employs 3,000, and Maxim Integrated Products, which employs 2,000.
According to 2000 census data, 79.0% of the city's population aged 25 or older were high school graduates, slightly below the national figure of 80.4%. 27.9% held at least a baccalaureate, slightly higher than the national figure of 24.4%. Broward County Public Schools operates 23 public schools in Fort Lauderdale. 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results for Fort Lauderdale's public schools were mixed; while ten (of sixteen) elementary schools and one (of four) middle schools received "A" or "B" grades, Sunland Park Elementary School and Arthur Ashe Middle School received failing grades. Boyd Anderson High School, which is located in Lauderdale Lakes but whose attendance zone includes part of Fort Lauderdale, also received a failing grade. None of the three failing schools have failed twice in a four-year period, thus triggering the "Opportunity Scholarship Program" school choice provisions of the Florida's education plan.
Five institutions of higher learning have main or satellite campuses in the city: