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Palm Bay is currently the 57th largest city in the United States. The area had been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples of varying cultures. During the middle Archaic period, Native Americans settled in small fishing villages along the river and hunted game, fished, and gathered berries. Archaeological evidence suggests that these first inhabitants traveled into Florida from Georgia as far back as 12000 BC (see Paleo-Indians). They disappeared from archeological records after 500 years; it is believed that they may have succumbed to climate change or disease when their numbers were reduced by 75%.The historic Ais people occupied this area long before European contact but left little record beyond major earthwork mounds still present at today's Melbourne Airport at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on nearby Merritt Island . The Indian River was named after these people who hunted and fished along its shores for centuries before American colonization began.In 1513 Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed here on his first mission to North America .