Lakeland is a city in Polk County, Florida, along Interstate 4 east of Tampa. The westernmost city in Polk County, it is part of the Tampa Bay Area. According to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the city had a population of 100,710. Lakeland is a principal city of the Lakeland–Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area (coterminous with Polk County), which had an estimated population of 623,009 in July 2013 based on data from the University of Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research. It is twinned with Richmond Hill, Ontario; Imabari, Ehime, Japan; Bălți, Moldova; Portmore, Jamaica; and Chongming County, Shanghai, China through the Lakeland chapter of Sister Cities International.
Native Americans began to live in the area 12,000 years ago. European-American settlers arrived in Lakeland from South Carolina in the 1870s. The city expanded in the 1880s with the arrival of rail service, with the first freedmen railway workers settling here in 1883. They and European immigrants also came because of new jobs in the large phosphate industry that developed. Lakeland is home to the 1,267-acre Circle B Bar Reserve.
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