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Ever since the late 90's, talks of a unified Florida had already begun. However, these were not the ones in a congress or courthouse, these were the ones on the street corners, people talking, debating on whether one Florida could create a much more stable state or not. In 1997, a Gainesville ambassador to South Florida had brought up the idea of uniting under a confederation, but since South Florida had problems of their own at the time it was not possible.
In 2000, people began to take this more seriously. Raiders were in decline, and every day more and more small communities were being discovered throughout Florida. At first, talks between Gainsville and the First Coast proposed a union with the idea that South Florida could be asked later. With roads in disrepair, some considered a naval compact to join the north and the south, but the First Coast rejected this as inefficient due to practically no useful ports on the east coast of South Florida. Finally, a third option, depending on the slow annexation of land in between the three states, won out. The sea coasts of each state would then be considered to belong to the whole nation.
In 2003, representatives from all three states officially met in Gainesville to decide on whether or not to unify. The vote was unanimous. Although plans had been to finalize the reunification in 2009, complications arose with internal affairs of the states that caused a postponement until the end of 2010.
On December 31, 2010, a special ceremony occurred from 6 PM Eastern Time to midnight. All the old leaders stepped down allowing a set of leaders - a president, vice president, and a newly created post of "Leader of the House" - to be sworn in, each coming from the three different states. By 8:00 PM, December 31st, the opening ceremony has finished, with Governor of the First Coast giving his speech, followed by that of South Florida, and lastly the leader of Gainesville. The three nations then become sovereign states of the Republic of Florida with the three leaders signing the final ratification of the Bill of Independent Union, the new constitution.
However, unification will continue as the military establishments of the three states will take up to a year to be combined. Meanwhile, the state governments will continue to act on their own as a combined federal legislature is being formed.
Other Floridian Survivors
Although the three larger nation-states form the core of the new nation, there are smaller political entities in the form of formerly unaffiliated city-states that are joining as well. The city-state of Ocala, for instance, on the road between South and North Florida, has voted to join the republic as part of the state of North Florida. Other unaffiliated towns on the edges of the official boundaries of the "big three" are following suit.
As the government began to rebuild its legislature in Gainesville, one of the first orders of business was to resume the dream of reclaiming "west Florida," the wilderness west of the old state capital of Tallahassee. The state of North Florida had adopted the Apalachicola River as its official western border in the days when it was independent. Its authorities had sent expeditions along old I-10 in search of out survivors, but had found few. That region had been claimed to be under the jurisdiction of the Republic and called "West Florida" in all official documents. It was not until expeditions had searched the coastline that outposts had been found of what is now the state of Apalachicola.
Expansion and Operation Spearhead
In late 2010, during the Florida Expeditionary Commission delegation, board member Robert Gulibar reported that, "Floridian troops, colonists and supplies were able to enter Ocala and several cities inside of central Florida, as well with areas around Miami and the Florida pan handle." It was also reported that Ocala was represented in the meeting. It was confirmed that Ocala representatives would now take place not only in the FEC meetings, but also have a place inside the entire government, being assured of representation in major government functions.
Another member of the Commission introduced Larry Holmes, a longtime survivor of the formerly independent Republic of Apalachicola. Holmes stated that he was the "vice president" of the republic that now sought to join the Republic of Florida as a state. The legislature heard the report and formally recognized Apalachicola as a state of the Republic by the end of its winter session. What had been claimed as "West Florida" was remamed "Apalachicola" for future maps of the expanding republic.
For years trade and governance was hampered by the uncontrolled area stretching across central Florida, effectively separating northern and southern Florida. Following public outcry for this to change the government launched an offensive which cleared out the mid-western coast of the peninsula, in order to connect the northern and southern parts of the nation by repairing I-70.
The long-populated region of South Tampa was formally annexed as the capital of the "Tampa Bay Reconstruction Zone" and served as the base of logistical operations for the largest singular land grab undergone by the unified Republic. The region was extensively mapped and cleared of raider gangs, despotic settlements and otherwise unsavory qualities for reconstruction.
Remaining survivors in the area were re-settled in military-controlled outposts in Clearwater, Clearwater Beach, Safety Harbor, Riverview and the Davis Islands (solely-military due to radiation lingering) in order to maintain a permanent presence throughout the Tampa Bay and keep the area from falling into the hands of criminal groups
to be continued...
All territory controlled by the Republic of Florida is divided into two categories: States and "Reconstruction Zones", which include anything from affiliated city-states to Indian settlements to previously anarchic territory recaptured by Florida in recent years.
States of the Republic
Though less developed than its neighbor to the south, North Florida retained the structure of the old state of Florida. It's advantage was its proximity to destroyed Tallahassee and the presence of the states largest University.
The most advanced of the states due to its access to the East Caribbean Federation, South Florida was slow to take to the idea of giving up its independence to its fellow Floridians to the north. However, with a spirit of their shared history as the Sunshine State, the citizens convinced the leadership of the wisdom of unification.
Though tiny compared to its neighbors to the west, East Florida was proud of its heritage, choosing as its national name First Coast. With sheer determination, historic Saint Augustine and internationally famous tourist attraction and auto sports mecca Daytona Beach co-operated to form a working nation out the strip along the first national highway of the old United States -- US 1. With nothing more than a few old manufacturing plants and two surviving cruise ships, East Florida struggled for recognition along side of the Bahamas just off the coast to the south.
Long thought lost to the chaos of a string of coastal nuclear strikes, the state of Apalachicola was confirmed when the Florida Coast Guard vessels docked in the military outpost of Apalachicola. After navigating along the barrier islands, personnel spotted a flag flying from buildings near docks of the historic downtown area, which seemed to have been converted into some sort of fortress. After establishing contact, Florida expedited the admission of it's fourth state in a little less than a year. Apalachicolans proudly rejoined the republic, glad to have been reconnected after nearly thirty years of isolation.
Tampa Bay Zone
This area has been under South Floridian surveillance for well over two decades now, as the St. Petersburg area was home to raiders operateing off the western and northern fringes of the peninsula. Following Unification, the manpower and materiel were finally sufficient to rid the area of violent gangs and despotic settlements. South Tampa is inhabited and represented in South Floridian local government, whereas the remaining populace of the region (21,000) is currently under martial law and government led resettlement in order to better organize the populace. This area is crucial as it contains the only highway link from southern to northern Florida, by-passing the irritated marsh between Orlando and Cape Canaveral which has consumed the mid-eastern portion of the former state.
Although the economy is still primarily based on agriculture, in recent years the fishing industry has begun to return. In years prior the abundance of leisure boats served the surviving Floridians well, especially sail-boats, as they provided many a means to survive off of fishing, although nowadays motor-powered boats have been making a comeback. Bio-diesel, processed from vegetable oils, has also been used. Even outside the de jure borders of the Republic, citrus and cattle dominate the entire peninsula as the agricultural staples.
To a limited extent, tourism has returned to the state of East Florida. Although not as exotic as established ECF destinations, those who live in the islands have found historic St. Augustine and the restored beaches of Daytona to be quite a draw.
Each of the four states that make up the Florida Republic are culturally distinct from the others. North Florida is almost entirely Southern in culture, being predominately conservative.
Its neighbor to the west, Apalachicola, is even more conservative and, as anyone who lives there will attest, is even more religious. In some cases the lifestyle and perspective of the new state has been considered "extreme," even by North Floridian standards.
East Florida is not too dissimilar, although there is a large Hispanic influence especially in the capital city of St. Augustine, and recent contact with the ECF and the US Atlantic Remnant have opened up the "First Coasters," as they still prefer to be called, to Caribbean culture.
South Florida is almost the exact opposite from North Florida and the rest of the South for that matter, or as the saying went "The further South you go, the further North you really are". The Caribbean influence and liberal social mores are evident in South Florida, especially on the Keys which can be considered the most liberal area in Florida.
A recent census designated roughly 80% of Florida as white, 15% Black as well as a 4% mixed population, with .5% Asian and .5% Native American population as well. 10% of this population had at least one Hispanic parent.
The Hispanic community is largely composed of second-generation Cuban expatriates who were either refugees of the South Florida area or studying in a different part of the state. There are also significant Dominican and Mexican populations as well, with a Colombian community of several thousand.
It should be noted that in recent years the Native population has dropped threefold as many of the former reservations have moved eastwards in an attempt to stake out independent land on the eastern coast which would not leave them an enclave within Florida.
While Florida itself is a secular state the majority of the population is Christian.
There is a Jewish population of about 20,000, largely concentrated along the southern coastlines in the Florida Keys and in Fort Myers, as well as in Gainesville, which is largely made up of both former students and faculty of the University of Florida.
The Republic of Florida is a member of the League of Nations.
The separate states which coalesced into the united Republic of Florida had each formed some alliances over the years, each based on their geography. North Florida had trade relations with Neonotia to the north and had some contact with the coastal regions of Hattiesburg via their limited maritime trade. South Florida had made contact with Cuba and Jamaica, as well as the American survivor states of Puerto Rico and what they usually referred to as the "Virgin Islands." The Virgin Island government, however was in actuality a provisional government known as the United States Atlantic Remnant. Through these connections, the world was aware of survivors in Florida even before the League of Nations was formed in 2008. East Florida had a lively trade with the rest of the Caribbean nations through its connections with the Bahamas.
Since 2010, contact has been maintained with the new United States, although any talks of reunification have not yielded fruition due to the impracticability at the present moment. It is much more likely in the immediate future that Florida would either continue to gravitate towards to the ECF or possibly join a political federation with surrounding southern states and possibly the Atlantic Remnant.
Relations with the ECF in particular have been increasingly warm, as they have assisted in recent years with reconstruction on the eastern coast, as well as resettling Native American reservations that agreed to a land swap, moving them from the interior to the previously depopulated mid-eastern coastline. It is expected that many of the eastern settlements will either declare independence or become a protectorate of either the RoF or ECF.