Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, and is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States as of 2020. It is the seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968. Consolidation gave Jacksonville its great size and placed most of its metropolitan population within the city limits. As of 2019, Jacksonville's population was estimated to be 911,507, making it the 12th most populous city in the U.S., the most populous city in the Southeast, and the most populous city in the South outside of the state of Texas. The Jacksonville metropolitan area has a population of 1,523,615 and is the fourth largest metropolitan area in Florida.
Jacksonville is centered on the banks of the St. Johns River in the First Coast region of northeast Florida, about 25 miles (40 km) south of the Georgia state line and 328 miles (528 km) north of Miami. The Jacksonville Beaches communities are along the adjacent Atlantic coast. The area was originally inhabited by the Timucua people, and in 1564 was the site of the French colony of Fort Caroline, one of the earliest European settlements in what is now the continental United States. Under British rule, a settlement grew at the narrow point in the river where cattle crossed, known as Wacca Pilatka to the Seminole and the Cow Ford to the British. A platted town was established there in 1822, a year after the United States gained Florida from Spain; it was named after Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of the Florida Territory and seventh President of the United States.