The Florida Heartland is a region of Florida located to the north and west of Lake Okeechobee, composed of six inland, non-metropolitan counties — DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, and Okeechobee. In 2000, The US Census Bureau recorded the population of the region at 229,509. A 2005 US Census Bureau estimate places the region's population at 249,837, a five year growth rate of 9.0%. The most populous county in the region is Highlands County, and the region's largest city is Sebring. Unlike the coastal areas to the east and west, the rural nature of the Florida Heartland is culturally closer to the Deep South than the rest of peninsular Florida. While located in Palm Beach County, the nearby rural cities of Belle Glade and Pahokee, located on the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee, are more associated with the Florida Heartland than South Florida