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Lakeland–Winter Haven metropolitan area

File:Map of Florida highlighting Polk County.svg
Location of the Lakeland Metropolitan Statistical Area in Florida

The Lakeland–Winter Haven metropolitan area is an area consisting of Polk County in the state of Florida in the United States. The principal city is Lakeland.

According to a July 1, 2013 United States Census Bureau estimate, the "Lakeland–Winter Haven, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area" had a population of 629,009.[1] The Lakeland–Winter Haven, Florida Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area was first defined in 1973. Winter Haven was removed as a principal city and the name changed to its present form in 2003, but was added again in 2007.[2]

Lakeland is the most populous city in Polk county, with a 2013 population of 100,710. The other main Polk municipalities of Bartow (the county seat) with a 2013 population of 17,996, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Haines City are smaller: Winter Haven had a 2013 population of 35,531, all other cities had populations below 16,000. In 2000 only 37% of county residents lived in incorporated metropolitan areas.[3]

Winter Haven is best known as the home of Legoland Florida (formerly Cypress Gardens), a theme park themed on Legos, which is one of the five Legoland parks. Country musician Gram Parsons was from a wealthy family in Winter Haven. Winter Haven was also home to the first Publix supermarket circa 1930. The town of Bartow was named in honor of Francis S. Bartow, the first Confederate officer to die in the American Civil War.

Growth in Polk County is driven by nearness to both the Tampa and Orlando metropolitan areas along the Interstate 4 corridor. Recent growth has been heaviest in Lakeland (closest to Tampa) and the Northeast areas near Haines City (nearest to Orlando). From 1990 to 2000, unincorporated areas grew 25%, while incorporated areas grew only 11%. In addition to developing cottage communities for commuters, there is evidence in Haines City of suburban sprawl into unincorporated areas.

Polk County is the headquarters of Publix Supermarkets, a regional grocery chain and Polk's top private employer, as well as W. S. Badcock Corporation, Watkins Motor Lines, Saddle Creek Corporation, and The Mosaic Company. Polk's location along the Interstate 4 corridor is attracting warehouse and fulfillment center development in the north part of the county.


  1. ^ "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013 (CBSA-EST2009-01)" (CSV). 2009 Population Estimates. United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  2. ^ "Update of Statistical Area Definitions and Guidance on Their Uses (OMB Bulletin 08 - 01)" (CSV). Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  3. ^ Polk County Demographic Profile (Central Florida Development Council) – retrieved June 1, 2007 Archived February 3, 2007 at the Wayback Machine

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