Lakeland is a city in Polk County, Florida, part of the Tampa Bay Area, located along Interstate 4 east of Tampa. According to the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the city had a population of 112,136. Lakeland is a principal city of the Lakeland–Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area.
European-American settlers arrived in Lakeland from Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and 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 land development opportunities with farming, citrus, cattle and phosphate industry developing. Lakeland is home to the 1,267-acre Circle B Bar Reserve.