The central region is remarkable for its large number of lakes, approximately 30,000 between Gainesville in Alachua county, and Lake Okeechobee.
The eight in 1905 were Jacksonville (35,301), Tampa (22,823), Pensacola (21,505), Key West (20,498), Live Oak (7200), Lake City (6409), Gainesville (J413), and St Augustine (5121).
Before 1905 the state provided for higher education by the Florida State College, at Tallahassee, formerly the West Florida Seminary (founded in 1857); the University of Florida, at Lake City, which was organized in 1903 by enlarging the work of the Florida Agricultural College (founded in 1884); the East Florida Seminary, at Gainesville (founded 1848 at Ocala); the normal school (for whites) at De Funiak Springs; and the South Florida Military Institute at Bartow; but in 1905 the legislature passed the Buckman bill abolishing all these state institutions for higher education and establishing in their place the university of the state of Florida and a state Agricultural Experiment Station, both now at Gainesville, and the Florida Female College at Tallahassee, which has the same standards for entrance and for graduation as the state university for men.
Gainesville is a trading centre and market for the surrounding country, in which cotton, grains, garden truck, fruit and alfalfa are grown and live-stock is raised; and a wholesale distributing point for the neighbouring region in Texas and Oklahoma.
Gainesville was settled about 1851, was incorporated in 1873, and was chartered as a city in 1879; it was named in honour of General Edmund Pendleton Gaines (1777-1849), who served with distinction in the War of 1812, becoming a brigadier-general in March 1814 and receiving the brevet of major-general and the thanks of Congress for his defence of Fort Erie in August 1814.