The Okefenokee Swamp lies mostly in southeastern Georgia. A small part of it extends into northeastern Florida. The Okefenokee Swamp is a marshy, subtropical wilderness. Most of it was bought by the United States government in 1937. The government has set aside about 460 square miles (1,200 square kilometers) of the region as the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
The name Okefenokee comes from the Indian word Owaquaphenoga, which means trembling earth. It refers to the trembling of small bushes and water weeds that float on the lakes of the Okefenokee.
The swamp covers 700 square miles (1,800 square kilometers). Fine timberlands and freshwater lakes lie next to marshy stretches. The region is drained by the St. Marys and Suwannee rivers. Other bodies of water wind through the swamp. The Okefenokee Swamp was once a favorite hunting ground of the Creek and Seminole Indians. Today, as a government preserve, the swamp is home to many animals including deer, bears, bobcats, otters, raccoons, opossums, and alligators. The swamp is also a winter refuge of many birds. There are about 50 kinds of fish in its waters. Plants that grow there are white and golden lilies, Spanish moss, and bald cypress trees. The Wonderworld of Okefenokee is a significant part of America's heritage-- a beautifully preserved segment of what was here when America began. Many of the plants found in the Okefenokee were used by the Indian inhabitants for food and medicine, long before the first Europeans arrived in the area. Early white settlers learned from their Indian hosts the value of natural life and balance in nature.