The Fort Lauderdale metro encompasses all of Broward County and contains 31 municipalities and expands 1,197 square miles, with two-thirds of the area covered by the Everglades. Fort Lauderdale is the largest city in the county followed by Pembroke Pines. Limited land available for new development will slow any significant future growth.
Tourism is a major part of the Fort Lauderdale economy, and both air traffic and hotel occupancy are recovering from the recession. South Florida received a greater proportion of U.S. travelers over the past few years as visitors shied away from more costly international travel.
Although activity at Port Everglades dipped through the economic downturn, the facility still generates more than $22 million in waterborne commerce annually. The number of cruise passengers using the port has risen since 2011 as two of the world's largest cruise ships now dock at Port Everglades.
Healthcare is another key driver in the Fort Lauderdale economy. The metro has a significant population of elderly residents and will likely be disproportionately affected by the aging baby boomer generation. Biotechnology research has emerged as a growth industry for the area, and efforts are under way to attract these companies to the county.
Numerous corporations have made Fort Lauderdale their headquarters or regional operations center. The mild climate, reasonable cost of living, and proximity to Miami and Latin America attract diverse companies, including Citrix Systems, AutoNation and Heico.
The Fort Lauderdale metro is bordered to the north and south by the West Palm Beach and Miami metros, respectively, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
The Everglades to the west are protected and unavailable for development. The 23 miles of shoreline and 300 miles of inland waterways in the metro provide the means for recreation and transport. Fort Lauderdale enjoys a tropical climate and contains flat terrain.