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Sarasota County is a county located in the U.S. state of Floridamarker. The U.S. Census Bureau 2008 estimate for the county was 372,057. Its county seat is Sarasota, Floridamarker.

Sarasota County is part of the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Downtown Sarasota from the John Ringling Bridge

Sarasota County was created in 1921. After acquisition by the United States as a territory and once Florida obtained state status, the area now included in the county had been governed by Hillsborough Countymarker, then Manatee County as the state was divided into smaller and smaller governmental organization. Manatee County was carved up to allow the creation of three more counties as well.

Although the name was associated with the area from the beginning of European contacts the origin of the name, Sarasota, is unknown. It may be named for a word in the indigenous Calusa language, whose meaning may be Point of Rocks or Place of the Dance. Some believe a fanciful story created for a popular early twentieth-century pageant held in Sarasota, that it was named after the daughter of famous explorer Hernando de Soto's daughter Sara.

According to the Florida League of Cities FLC, the name first appeared in print as "Zarazote" on a 1763 land grant map.

#2 Ranked Beach in America

According to "Dr. Beach" Stephen Leatherman Los Angeles Times, Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota County is the #2 best beach in Americamarker. As “Dr. Beach,” Leatherman has selected the annual Top 10 Beaches since 1991. DrBeach.Org Fifty criteria are used to evaluate the beaches, including water and sand quality, as well as facilities and environmental management, as part of the National Healthy Beaches Campaign.

Every year on Valentine’s Day, over 500 couples gather on Siesta Keymarker Beach in Sarasotamarker – made up of 99 percent pure quartz sand – to renew their vows of marriage in a beachside ceremony at sunset. The event is open to anyone who would like to attend.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 725 square miles (1,878 km²), of which, 572 square miles (1,480 km²) of it is land and 154 square miles (398 km²) of it (21.19%) is water.

Adjacent counties



  1. City of Sarasotamarker
  2. City of North Portmarker
  3. City of Venicemarker
  4. Town of Longboat Keymarker



Primary and secondary education

*Sarasota County Public Schools - Public K-12 School district serving all of Sarasota County

Higher education

*New College of Floridamarker - Public liberal arts college. 'Honors' college of the State of Florida.
*University of South Florida Sarasota-Manateemarker - Branch campus of USF.
*Ringling College of Art and Design - A private, 4 year, not-for-profit, fully accredited college with concentrations in art and design.

Local media


*Herald Tribune - Also known as the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Primarily serves Sarasota County for news, but also serves Manateemarker, Charlottemarker and DeSotomarker counties. Circulation is 110,817 daily and 132,185 on Sunday (2005 averages). Also operates an online news portal,
*Venice Gondolier Sun - Website and archives within the Florida Digital Newspaper Library
*Pelican Press - Website


Sarasota County is part of the DMA. Most of the television stations are located in St. Petersburgmarker or Tampamarker except:

*WWSBmarker - A local ABC affiliate based in Sarasota.
*SNN News 6 - Local twenty-four hour news station based in Sarasota.
*Various government and local access channels. Access 19 (Local Government channel), Education Channel (School Board) and BLAB TV (local programming)




*Sarasota-Bradenton International Airportmarker, in both Manatee Countymarker (runway) and Sarasota County (terminal).
*Venice Municipal Airportmarker,a general aviation airport in Venice, FLmarker.

Major highways and state roads

*Interstate 75- North-south limited-access freeway, and has ten interchanges within Sarasota County. Major north-south highway in Sarasota County. Connects the area with other cities such as Tampa, FLmarker and Fort Myers, FLmarker. Interstate 75 heads east in Southern Sarasota County through North Port, FLmarker to cross Charlotte Harbor at a more manageable length.
* U.S. Highway 41- The other main north-south road. Known as Tamiami Trail. Follows the general path of Interstate 75, but most closer to the coastline. U.S. Highway 41 is not limited-access.
*State Road 789
*State Road 758
*State Road 780
*State Road 776
*State Road 72
*State Road 681

Public transportation

*Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) provides public transportation for Sarasota County, Florida. SCAT is operated by Sarasota County. It maintains 19 fixed-line bus routes plus a dial-a-ride paratransit service (SCAT Plus).


As of the census of 2000, there were 325,957 people, 149,937 households, and 94,460 families residing in the county. The population density was 570 people per square mile (220/km²). There were 182,467 housing units at an average density of 319 per square mile (123/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.65% White, 4.18% Black or African American, 0.22% Native American, 0.77% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.14% from other races, and 1.02% from two or more races. 4.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 89.7% spoke English, 4.4% Spanish, 1.3% German and 1.0% French as their first language.

Census Estimates for 2005 show the county population as being 87.5% non-Hispanic whites, 6.3% Latinos, 4.5% African-American and 1.1% Asian.

In 2000 there were 149,957 households out of which 18.30% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.70% were married couples living together, 7.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.00% were non-families. 30.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.61.

In the county the population was spread out with 16.20% under the age of 18, 5.00% from 18 to 24, 21.70% from 25 to 44, 25.60% from 45 to 64, and 31.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 90.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,957, and the median income for a family was $50,111. About 5.10% of families and 7.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.70% of those under age 18 and 4.50% of those age 65 or over.

The per capita income for the county was $28,326. Females had a median income of $25,721 versus $32,114 for males.
  • Population in Sarasota County as of 2006 had reached 369,535 people.

Notable pioneer honored on sign

Joseph Daniel Anderson was one of the pioneers of the Sarasota area. He established his homestead in the Forked Creek area in 1886 and became an early leader in what now is southern Sarasota County (having been Manatee County from 1855 until 1921).

The following is a transcript from a Sarasota County historical marker that was erected in a park dedicated to Anderson on Manasota Keymarker.

"After the Civil War, many Georgians moved their families to Southern Florida. Joseph Daniel "Jody" Anderson, born in Georgia in 1867, was a child when his father moved to the Tampa/Sara Sota area. In 1884, Joseph became the head of the Anderson family. Two years later, he moved his family to Southern Manatee County. He homesteaded the land in the Mystic River (Forked Creek) Valley. In 1890 he married Helen Alice Johnson of Sarasota. They had eleven children. Eight survived.

With only hand tools, Anderson converted the Florida wilderness into an agricultural industry. This fertile land produced vegetables, sugar cane and citrus. In the vast Myakka/Pinedale area, he raised his cattle and swine. He and brother Moses "Lee" prospered in ranching until the Range Law Act curtailed the right to use this land for grazing.

Sleds (later wagons) were used to move the farm produce, fruit and cattle to Lemon Bay where they were transferred to draft boats and transported to ships at Boca Grande. Some of the wagons were rafted across the bay to Manasota Beach where the produce was ferried to Cuban smacks and later to American schooners.

Anderson pioneered commercial fishing in North Lemon Bay which teemed with schools of mullet and other fish. The Andersons fished with nets made of cotton and flax twine over which they poured a heavy lime solution to prevent rot. Their base of operation included land storage facilities on the shore and on the beach (Manasota) to salt, dry and pack the fish in barrels. Upon the arrival of run boats with ice from Tampa, the Andersons could ship fresh fish and produce.

Joseph Daniel "Jody" Anderson was a quiet family man who never sought publicity. However, before Sarasota County was organized, he served as deputy sheriff and game warden in the Pinedale/Manasota area. The Anderson family built the area's first school (Pinedale) of which Jody was trustee. He also organized the first church in the area. Anderson actively supported the creation of Sarasota County from Manatee County and in 1922, became the first elected county commissioner from District 4. After the death of his first wife, he married Mary Ethel Morgan with whom he raised four more children. Joseph Daniel Anderson died in 1939."


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