Florida is a reflection of influences and multiple inheritance; African, European, indigenous, and Latino heritages can be found in the architecture and cuisine.
Florida has attracted many writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and continues to attract celebrities and athletes.
The Spanish encouraged slaves from the southern British colonies to come to Florida as a refuge, promising freedom in exchange for conversion to Catholicism.
King Charles II of Spain issued a royal proclamation freeing all slaves who fled to Spanish Florida and accepted conversion and baptism. Augustine, but escaped slaves also reached Pensacola. Augustine had mustered an all-black militia unit defending Spain as early as 1683.
The earliest known European explorers came with the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León.
Spain established several settlements in Florida, with varying degrees of success.
In 1559, Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano established a settlement at present-day Pensacola, making it the first attempted settlement in Florida, but it was mostly abandoned by 1561. Augustine (San Agustín) was established under the leadership of admiral and governor Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, creating what would become one of the oldest, continuously-occupied European settlements in the continental U. and establishing the first generation of Floridanos and the Government of Florida.
The geographical area of Florida diminished with the establishment of English settlements to the north and French claims to the west. Augustine, burning the city and its cathedral to the ground several times.
Spain built the Castillo de San Marcos in 1672 and Fort Matanzas in 1742 to defend Florida's capital city from attacks, and to maintain its strategic position in the defense of the Captaincy General of Cuba and the Spanish West Indies.