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Pensacola () is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, and the county seat of Escambia County, Florida. As of 2019, the population was estimated to be 52,975. Pensacola is the principal city of the Pensacola Metropolitan Area, which had an estimated 502,629 residents as of 2019. Pensacola is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the Gulf Coast region.Pensacola is the site of the first Spanish settlement within the borders of the continental United States in 1559, predating the establishment of St. Augustine by 6 years, although the settlement was abandoned due to a hurricane and not re-established until 1698. Pensacola is a seaport on Pensacola Bay, which is protected by the barrier island of Santa Rosa and connects to the Gulf of Mexico. A large United States Naval Air Station, the first in the United States, is located southwest of Pensacola near Warrington; it is the base of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team and the National Naval Aviation Museum. The main campus of the University of West Florida is situated north of the city center. The area was originally inhabited by Muskogean-speaking peoples. The Pensacola people lived there at the time of European contact, and Creek people frequently visited and traded from present-day southern Alabama and Mississippi and southeast of Louisiana. Spanish explorer Tristán de Luna founded a short-lived settlement in 1559. In 1698 the Spanish established a presidio in the area, from which the modern city gradually developed. The area changed hands several times as European powers competed in North America. During Florida's British rule (1763–1781), fortifications were strengthened. It is nicknamed "The City of Five Flags", due to the five governments that have ruled it during its history: the flags of Spain (Castile), France, Great Britain, the United States of America, and the Confederate States of America. Other nicknames include "World's Whitest Beaches" (due to the white sand of Florida panhandle beaches), "Cradle of Naval Aviation", "Western Gate to the Sunshine State", "America's First Settlement", "Emerald Coast", "Red Snapper Capital of the World", and "P-Cola".
The Emerald Coast is an unofficial name for the coastal area in the US state of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico that stretches about 100 mi (160 km) through five counties, Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay, which include Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Panama City. Some south Alabama communities on the coast of Baldwin County, such as Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan embrace the term as well.
Walton County is located on the Emerald Coast in the northwestern part of the U.S. state of Florida, with its southern border on the Gulf of Mexico. As of the 2010 census, the population was 55,043. Its county seat is DeFuniak Springs. The county is home to the highest natural point in Florida: Britton Hill, at 345 feet (105 m). Walton County is included in the Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area.