Jacksonville is located on the St. John's River in northeast Florida, 15 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean and south of the Georgia border. Although it is the center of only the fourth largest metro area in the state, its enormous land area helps to give it Florida's largest population. In fact, Jacksonville has the largest land area of any city in the lower 48 states.
The area was originally discovered by Spanish settlers, led by Juan Ponce de Leon, in 1513, but remained largely unsettled until the French established Fort Caroline on the river in 1564. The fort was later destroyed by the Spanish and the area went under their control. Eventually ceded to the United States after a brief period of British control, Jacksonville was incorporated into the Territory of Florida in 1832.