The first Floridians known to the historical record were the Apalachee, Timucua, Tocobaga, Tequesta, and Ais Native American tribes. In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon, who was searching for the mythical 'Fountain of Youth', was the first European to sight the peninsula and, shortly thereafter, the Kingdom of Spain established dominance in the region. St. Augustine, founded in 1565, today exists as the oldest continually occupied European-established city in the United States, though several failed colonies and trading outposts had earlier been erected within what are now state boundaries. After passing between Spanish and British hands during the following centuries, the peninsula finally came under the control of the United States government following a series of conflicts between Seminole Indians and white settlers in Georgia and other Southern states. After joining the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, the state was reincorporated into the union during reconstruction, though its population, which at this point was mostly white and African-American, was mostly concentrated in the northern areas.
The establishment of rail and roadways through the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries, however, soon opened up southern Florida for development. As a vacation culture emerged among the upper and middle classes, Miami, Cape Coral, and the Florida Keys soon became popular destinations for tourists. The Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, which saw a communist party under Fidel Castro come to power, made southern Florida the primary destination for Cuban refugees who sought safety from his government. To this day, their cultural institutions continue to play a major part in the political and business environment of Miami and neighboring areas.
Today, 75% of Florida's population identifies itself as white, with approximately 58% describing themselves as non-Hispanic whites. 16% of the state's residents are African-American, with Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native American Indians comprising the remainder of the population. Among whites, most of the inhabitants in the northern counties are of English, Scots-Irish, or Irish extraction, as is common throughout the American South, while the white population along the Atlantic Coast includes many retirees from the Northeastern cities of the United States. Cuban-Americans tend to be concentrated in the state's southernmost areas, however it should be noted that no single ethnic group completely dominates any region and that, in many ways, Florida is perhaps America's best example of a true 'melting pot'.