Pensacola is the westernmost city in the panhandle of Florida and part of the central time zone. In addition to the pristine beaches of the Gulf Shore, the region has several parks enjoyed year-round by its nearly half a million Pensacola metropolitan residents. The area is the home of Naval Air Station Pensacola, which supports the local economy. The Air Station is also the home base of the Blue Angels, a Naval flight demonstration squadron who have delighted fans at air shows for decades.
The Spanish explorers Pánfilo de Narváez and Hernando de Soto anchored in Pensacola Bay. De Narváez in 1529 and de Soto in 1539. Pensacola has the nickname "City of Five Flags," reflecting the region's long and sometimes tumultuous European and American settlements. These five flags are:
- Castile (Spain)
- Great Britain
- United States of America
- Confederate States of America
The first settlers were the Spanish, who established a settlement in 1559, but it was destroyed by storms. By the time the Spanish built a Presidio in 1698, the waters of Pensacola Bay and the Gulf Coast were busy with sailing ships from around the world. However, the Spanish proclaimed the region too dangerous for settlement for more than a century. When the French settled west of Pensacola, Colonial American History and American History/Confederate American History represented the region.
Ironically, one of the region's most popular tourist attractions is Bottle Creek, an archeological site that predates European settlement for several centuries. The Bottle Creek site represents a vibrant and dynamic indigenous society called the Pensacola, with many different Muskogean nations interacting in trade and cultural exchange.