About the County
Formerly known as Dade County, Miami-Dade County covers 2,431 square miles, making it one of the largest of Florida’s 67 counties. It’s a county of contrasts. You’ll find heavy urbanization to the north, with high rises along the coastline and an important business district in downtown Miami. Meanwhile, the southern part of the county is home to a large, sparsely-populated agricultural region in the Redland and Homestead areas.
The contrasts continue at the other cardinal points of the compass. Go far enough to the west and you’ll reach the Everglades National Park, where some of the Miccosukee make their home. To the east you’ll find water – Biscayne Bay, to be precise, as well as the Biscayne National Park and Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve. Cross the bay and experiene the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean with it's Keys and offshore islands.
Established in 1836, Miami-Dade County was originally named Dade County, after Major Francis Dade. At that time, Dade County encompassed parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, as well as the Florida Keys. It reached its present-day boundaries in 1915.
Juan Ponce de Leon came here in 1513, sailing into what is now Biscayne Bay. Permanent European settlers didn’t arrive until the late nineteenth century. Here, as with Monroe County, many of the residents hunted for treasure from ships that wrecked on the Great Florida Reef.
More recently, Miami-Dade County has proven to be a popular filming location for both movies and TV series. Starting as far back as the 1940s, with Alfred Hitchcock, and continuing through the present, many producers have chosen to set and often film their stories in Miami. Not only Hollywood, but Bollywood has taken notice as well.
Dade County voters officially changed the name of the county to Miami-Dade County in 1997, because of the worldwide name recognition of the city of Miami.
With a population of about 2.6 million, Miami-Dade County is the most populous county in Florida – and the seventh most populous county in the United States. With more than half the population of Hispanic or Latino descent, and about a fifth being Black, Miami-Dade may be one of the most diverse counties in the state. In fact, at the 2000 census, it was found that more than half of the residents were born outside the United States. That percentage is higher than any other county in the country.
Age-wise, Miami-Dade County skews a little younger than average for Florida as a whole, with many young families. So despite Miami’s well-founded reputation for night life, you’ll also find many kid-friendly activities and services for families. For example, this county is home to one of the largest public library systems in the United States.
Miami-Dade County also features a large number of art and historical museums, cultural centers, animal attractions, aquariums, parks, shopping areas, and of course beaches. Several museums are geared specifically toward children.
While parking can be tricky in certain parts of the county, Miami-Dade boasts a transit system that includes heavy rail, free trolleys, an elevated people mover, and a bus system. It’s the largest public transit system in Florida. The county also possesses Miami International Airport, a major hub, and the Port of Miami in Biscayne Bay, a popular port for both cruise ships and cargo vessels.
Miami-Dade County encompasses 34 cities. The largest by far is Miami, followed by Hialeah, Miami Gardens, and the ever-famous Miami Beach. With so many different activities and venues, you’ll never run out of things to do in Miami-Dade County.