city, seat (1846) of Marion county, north-central Florida, U.S., about 35 miles (55 km) southeast of Gainesville. It developed around Fort King (established in 1827), an important post during the Seminole Wars. The city's name was derived from Ocali, the Timucua Indian name for the province through which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto passed in 1539; its literal meaning is unknown. After the Seminole Wars, Ocala evolved as an agricultural (citrus, corn [maize], cotton, and livestock) centre. In 1890 the Farmers Alliance held a national convention in the city and issued the Ocala Demands, summarizing their political stance. The city was reconstructed after the American Civil War, and many of its streets are lined with moss-draped oaks and stately Southern homes.
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