Special birthday wishes go out this week to … Florida!

Florida became the 27th state on March 3, 1845, making it 175 years old this week. It’s come a long way since the ancestral, “cracker” days — as late as 1939, Florida was still described as “still very largely an empty State” — but thanks to air conditioning and the willingness to live among its palms and pines and near its beaches, and now its theme parks and glitzy communities, it is the third-most populated state in the nation behind California and Texas.

Florida is special even before you start talking about a special birthday.

It’s the southernmost contiguous state (the lower 48), and one of only four of them that has a salty body of water to its west. It has the largest city by area (Jacksonville), has the the longest coastline, and would be the 16th largest economy in the world if it were its own country.

So, lets pass on the birthday cake and have a slice of key lime pie (Florida’s official pie) and some orange juice (the official drink) while we watch the breeze pass through the sabal palms (official tree) and carry the smell of orange blossoms (official flower) while listening to “Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky” (official anthem) or, if you’re a life, “Old Folks at Home” (the official song).

So, Happy Birthday Florida, and many more to come!