How Many People
Quality of Life
Compared to the entire United States, the Florida Panhandle is sparsely populated. In 1990, the U.S. had 70.3 persons per square mile. In the seven counties in the ARROW region, in 2002 there were 163,586 residents in 5,419.2 square miles, or about 30 residents per square mile. This density is one-tenth the Florida average of 300 residents per square mile.
In 2020, the ARROW region’s population is forecast at 206,026 residents, less than 40 residents per square mile. Thus, the ARROW region can accommodate a lot of new residents during the next 15 years without approaching the average population density of the state as a whole.
Population projections by county, 2005-2020
Almost two-thirds of the projected population growth -- some 28,000 people -- will settle in Franklin, Gulf, or Wakulla, the three counties in the ARROW region that border the Gulf of Mexico. How will local governments meet these new residents' demands for roads, water, sewer, schools, emergency services, garbage disposal, and recreational facilities? How can the human population grow so fast without destroying the natural resources that draw many new residents to the region?
Many people who live in the ARROW region are here because it is uncrowded. Huge tracts of forest provide residents with nearly unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation practically in their back yards. Many long-time residents also cherish the atmosphere and amenities of small-town life.
The question, then, is not, “How many people?” It is, “How many new residents do current residents want?” There may be enough room for plenty of new people, but the cumulative impacts of more people may well alter the lifestyle and environment that many long-term residents treasure.
You can view a map showing the population density of the entire U.S. by counties by going to www.cast.uark.edu/local/catalog/national/html/Population.htmldir/USpop1990.html.