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Ocala

Trip Planner USA  /  Florida  /  Central Florida  /  Ocala
(4.3/5 based on 3,200+ reviews for top 20 attractions)
Things to do: adventure, museums, nature
Ocala is a city in Marion County, Florida, United States. As of the 2013 census, its population, estimated by the United States Census Bureau, was 57,468, making it the 45th most populated city in Florida.It is the county seat of Marion County and the principal city of the Ocala, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated 2013 population of 337,362.HistoryArcheological investigation has revealed that the area was inhabited by varying cultures of indigenous peoples from as early as 6500 B.C., and there were two lengthy periods of occupation. The second lasted through 500 A.D. In early historic times, the Timucua inhabited the area.Ocala is located near what is thought to have been the site of Ocale or Ocali, a major Timucua village and chiefdom recorded in the 16th century. The modern city takes its name from the historical village, the name of which is believed to mean "Big Hammock" in the Timucua language. The Spanish Hernando de Soto's expedition recorded Ocale in 1539 during his exploration through what is today the southeastern United States. Ocale is not mentioned in later Spanish accounts; it appears to have been abandoned in the wake of de Soto's attack.In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Creek people and other Native Americans, and free and fugitive African Americans sought refuge in Florida. The Seminole people formed. After foreign colonial rule shifted between Spain and Great Britain and back again, in 1821 the United States acquired the territory of Florida. After warfare to the north, in 1827 the U.S. Army built Fort King near the present site of Ocala as a buffer between the Seminole, who had long occupied the area, and white settlers moving into the region. The fort was an important base during the Second Seminole War and later served in 1844 as the first courthouse for Marion County.
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