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The highest undulations are found along the coastal Miami Rock Ridge, whose substrate underlies most of the eastern Miami metropolitan region.
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.
The Miami area was better known as "Biscayne Bay Country" in the early years of its growth.
Miami and its suburbs are located on a broad plain between the Florida Everglades to the west and Biscayne Bay to the east, which also extends from Florida Bay north to Lake Okeechobee.
The elevation of the area never rises above 40 ft (12 m) above mean sea level in most neighborhoods, especially near the coast.
It is the second-largest US city (after El Paso, Texas) with a Spanish-speaking majority, and the largest city with a Cuban-American plurality.
Miami and its metropolitan area grew from just over 1,000 residents to nearly 5.5 million residents in just 110 years (1896–2006).
The war brought an increase in Miami's population; by 1940, 172,172 people lived in the city.
An Indian village of hundreds of people dating to 500–600 B. A Spanish mission was constructed one year later in 1567.
Spain and Great Britain successively controlled Florida, and Spain ceded it to the United States in 1821.
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.