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Key West Facts

ey West lies near the end of the chain of islands known as the Florida Keys, and is the southern-most city in the continental United States. The island-community is located about 90 miles north of Cuba and 150 miles southwest of Miami at a latitude of 24 degrees, 33 minutes, 5 seconds North and at a longitude of 81 degrees, 48 minutes, 14 seconds West. The island has an area of 4.2 square miles, while the City-incorporating the northern part of neighboring Stock Island-has an area of 5.79 square miles. The City initially developed because of its proximity to the Florida Straits, the abutting Florida Reef, strong offshore ocean currents (the Gulf Stream), and the area's unpredictable winds, combined with a large natural deep-water harbor and deep channels into the harbor. The Florida Straits are the northern-most sea passage from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. For three centuries this passage formed part of the great nautical trade route that carried ships from Caribbean and South American ports to their European homelands. The location of Key West serves as a gateway both to the Caribbean and between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico was recognized by the military at an early date. Another important regional factor in the development of the City has been its proximity to Cuba, 90 miles to the south.

Key West Planning Department, 2000

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Regional Setting