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Miami is a major city located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Florida. Miami and the surrounding metropolitan area sits between the Miami River, Biscayne Bay, the Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the second largest city in Florida and the county seat (and largest city) of Miami-Dade County. It is also the largest city in the South Florida metropolitan area, which is comprised of Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County making up the largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern United States.

Miami was officially incorporated as a city on July 28, 1896 with a population of just over 300. In 1940, 172,172 people lived in Miami, Florida. Today, the city of Miami has a population of 362,470 according to the 2000 census, while the larger metropolitan area has a population over 5 million. As of 2004, the population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 379,724 1.

Miami-Dade County is comprised of thirty-four other incorporated municipalities, including Miami Beach, Aventura, Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, Biscayne Park, Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Doral, El Portal, Florida City, Golden Beach, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Homestead, Indian Creek, Islandia, Key Biscayne, Medley, Miami Gardens, Miami Lakes, Miami Shores, Miami Springs, North Bay Village, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Opa-Locka, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Sunny Isles, Surfside, Sweetwater, Virginia Gardens, and West Miami. Some of the larger unincorporated areas include Fairlawn, Flagami, Kendall, and Westchester; the largest of which is Kendall. Miami's explosive population growth in recent years has been driven by internal migration from other parts of the country as well as by immigration. Greater Miami is regarded as a cultural melting pot, heavily influenced both by its very large population of ethnic Latin Americans and Caribbean islanders (many of them Spanish- or Haitian Creole-speaking).
The region's importance as an international financial and cultural center has elevated Miami to the status of world city; because of its cultural and linguistic ties to North, South, Central America, and the Caribbean it is sometimes called "The Gateway of the Americas." Two vessels of the U.S. Navy have been named USS Miami in honor of the city.

The City of Miami and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Florida Everglades and Biscayne Bay that also extends from Florida Bay north to Lake Okeechobee. The elevation of the area never rises above 15ft (4.5m) and averages at around 3ft (0.91m) above sea level in most neighborhoods especially near the coast. The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially created barrier islands, the largest of which contains the city of Miami Beach and its famous South Beach district. These islands are geologically considered to be part of the Florida Keys, but are not politically related to them. The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, runs northward just 15 miles (24.1km) off the coast, allowing the city's climate to stay warm and mild all year.

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