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The Gulf Stream, a warm ocean current, runs northward just 15 miles (24 km) off the coast, allowing the city's climate to stay warm and mild all year.
View from one of the higher points in Miami, west of downtown.
Downtown Miami is home to the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and many large national and international companies.
It accommodates some of the world's largest cruise ships and operations, and is the busiest port in both passenger traffic and cruise lines.
In the 1980s and 1990s, South Florida weathered social problems related to drug wars, immigration from Haiti and Latin America, and the widespread destruction of Hurricane Andrew.
Racial and cultural tensions were sometimes sparked, but the city developed in the latter half of the 20th century as a major international, financial, and cultural center.
The city's nickname, The Magic City, comes from this rapid growth.
Winter visitors remarked that the city grew so much from one year to the next that it was like magic.
The main portion of the city lies on the shores of Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially created barrier islands, the largest of which contains Miami Beach and South Beach.Miami is noted as "the only major city in the United States conceived by a woman, Julia Tuttle", a local citrus grower and a wealthy Cleveland native.