General
Southwest Florida 

Southwest Florida is a region of Florida , United States located along its gulf coast, south of the Tampa Bay area, west of Lake Okeechobee and mostly north of the Everglades. It consists of five coastal counties from Manatee County south to Collier County, although it sometimes is considered to include three rural counties inland, and the thinly populated mainland section of Monroe County.

The most populous county in the region is Lee County, and the region's largest city is Cape Coral with an estimated population of 151,389 as of 2006.

Southwest Florida was largely ignored by commercial developers until the late 1800s, and as such, lacks much of the heavier development present in other parts of Florida, such as that found in the central or southern regions of the state. In recent years however, there has been a major real estate boom focusing on downtown Fort Myers (high-rise residential condominiums); southern Lee County (commercial development and high-technology); eastern Collier County (residential development); and eastern parts of Bradenton



Overall, the region notably suffers from urban sprawl; however, numerous efforts in recent years have been made to remedy this situation, especially as the urbanized area of the coastal counties pushes eastward in to agricultural land and the sensitive Everglades.
Inland counties (De Soto, Hendry and Glades Counties) are notably rural, with the primary economic driver being agriculture. Important products grown in this area include tomatoes, beef, sugarcane, and citrus products including oranges. Agricultural harvesting in Southwest Florida employs approximately 16,000 seasonal workers, 90 percent of which are thought to be migrants

Each county in the region has its own county government. Within each county, there are also self-governing cities, towns and villages. The remaining majority of land in each county is controlled directly by the county government. It is also very common for incorporated municipalities to contract county services in order to save costs and avoid redundancy.

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