"F" is for Florence County [800 square miles; population 125,761]. Created in 1888, Florence County lies between the Great Pee Dee and Lynches Rivers in the eastern part of the state. In the late antebellum period, three railroads intersected in the area and the town of Florence developed. With the creation of the county, the town became the county seat. Railroads and agriculture would be the economic mainstays of the county until well into the 20th century. By the 1990s the county contained well over one hundred manufacturing companies that produced a variety of products including plastics, machinery, cars, furniture, fibers, and pharmaceuticals. However, in the 21st century, service providers have become the largest individual employers. There are nine cities and towns in the county. Higher education in Florence County is provided by Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College.