Sarasota County
Sarasota Skyline.jpeg
Sarasota FL Van Wezel Arts Center01.jpg
SIESTA BEACH. SARASOTA - panoramio.jpg
Sarasota FL County crths pano01.jpg
Venice Beach.jpg
Images, from top down, left to right: Downtown Sarasota skyline; Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Sarasota's Bayfront; Sunset at Siesta Beach; Sarasota County Courthouse; Beachfront on Venice Beach; Front walkway of Ca' d'Zan
Official seal of Sarasota County
Official logo of Sarasota County
Map of Florida highlighting Sarasota County
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 27°11′N 82°22′W / 27.19°N 82.37°W / 27.19; -82.37
Country United States
State Florida
FoundedMay 14, 1921
Largest cityNorth Port
 • Total725 sq mi (1,880 km2)
 • Land556 sq mi (1,440 km2)
 • Water169 sq mi (440 km2)  23.4%
 • Total434,006
 • Density781/sq mi (302/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
34223, 34229–34278, 34284–34289, 34292-34293, 34295
Area code941
Congressional district17th

Sarasota County is a county located in southwestern Florida. At the 2020 US census, the population was 434,006.[1] Its county seat is Sarasota[2] and its largest city is North Port. Sarasota County is part of the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton, FL metropolitan statistical area.


Main article: History of Sarasota, Florida

Downtown Sarasota, the county seat, from the John Ringling Causeway
Downtown Sarasota, the county seat, from the John Ringling Causeway

The area that is now known as Sarasota County has been inhabited by humans for some 10,000 years. Evidence of human remains as well as a burned out log at the Warm Mineral Springs, in North Port, were discovered that date to the early Archaic period.[3]

Although the name was associated with the area from the beginning of European contacts, the origin of the name "Sarasota" is unknown. In the early twentieth-century, a fanciful story was created to go hand-in-hand with a pageant held in Sarasota. The story held that the town was named after the daughter of famous explorer Hernando de Soto's daughter Sara.[4]

An early map of the area from 1763 shows the word "Zarazote" across present day Sarasota.[5]

Following exploration, the area was occupied by fishing camps, called ranchos.[6] In 1842, the Armed Occupation Act was passed, which deeded land to settlers who were willing to cultivate land in Florida. The act brought settlers to Sarasota but also led to the Second Seminole War.[7][8] During the war, the area was occupied by the U.S. army and Fort Armistead was built.[9]

Sarasota County was created in 1921 from the southern part of Manatee County. After acquisition by the United States as a territory, the area now included in Sarasota county had been part of St. Johns County (1821), Alachua County (1824), Hillsborough County (1834), and Manatee County (1855) as new counties were created from older counties to accommodate population growth and settlement in new areas.[10]


A great egret in Myakka River State Park
Black-necked stilt in Myakka River State Park
Black-necked stilt in Myakka River State Park

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 725 square miles (1,880 km2), of which 556 square miles (1,440 km2) is land and 169 square miles (440 km2) (23.4%) is water.[11]

Adjacent counties

Parks and preserves

In addition to local parks there are several preserve areas including:

Government and politics

Sarasota County is one of only 20 Florida counties with its own charter, adopted in 1971. Sarasota County is governed by a five-member county commission. Each commissioner serves a four-year term and resides in and represents a single district.[12]

Like most of Southwest Florida, Sarasota County is considered a stronghold for the Republican Party and was one of the first parts of Florida to turn Republican. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win it was Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, although Barack Obama lost it by just 211 votes in 2008.[13] Republicans have historically dominated the county commission and other countywide elected positions. However, the city of Sarasota has an all-Democrat city commission, Democrat Michele Rayner represents a portion of the county in the Florida House of Representatives, and there are two countywide elected Democrats.

United States presidential election results for Sarasota County, Florida[14]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 148,370 54.71% 120,110 44.29% 2,689 0.99%
2016 124,438 53.79% 97,870 42.30% 9,045 3.91%
2012 110,504 53.14% 95,119 45.74% 2,338 1.12%
2008 102,897 49.47% 102,686 49.37% 2,422 1.16%
2004 104,692 53.51% 88,442 45.20% 2,518 1.29%
2000 83,117 51.63% 72,869 45.27% 4,991 3.10%
1996 69,213 46.46% 63,665 42.73% 16,108 10.81%
1992 66,855 42.76% 54,552 34.89% 34,945 22.35%
1988 84,602 66.40% 42,099 33.04% 708 0.56%
1984 87,771 74.15% 30,525 25.79% 69 0.06%
1980 68,065 68.57% 25,621 25.81% 5,579 5.62%
1976 44,157 61.78% 26,293 36.78% 1,028 1.44%
1972 48,939 79.95% 12,235 19.99% 36 0.06%
1968 30,160 63.73% 10,127 21.40% 7,041 14.88%
1964 21,917 61.13% 13,937 38.87% 0 0.00%
1960 19,995 70.70% 8,287 29.30% 0 0.00%
1956 13,937 73.40% 5,052 26.60% 0 0.00%
1952 9,538 70.74% 3,945 29.26% 0 0.00%
1948 3,559 49.95% 2,302 32.31% 1,264 17.74%
1944 2,109 37.99% 3,443 62.01% 0 0.00%
1940 1,672 30.71% 3,773 69.29% 0 0.00%
1936 1,055 30.38% 2,418 69.62% 0 0.00%
1932 667 25.86% 1,912 74.14% 0 0.00%
1928 1,603 56.46% 1,181 41.60% 55 1.94%
1924 187 40.48% 204 44.16% 71 15.37%

Public safety


The Sarasota County Fire Department (SCFD) provides fire services to the City of Sarasota and all unincorporated areas of the county with the exception of areas covered by the Nokomis and Englewood fire districts. Additionally, SCFD provides EMS service to the City of Sarasota, all unincorporated areas of the county (including areas covered by the Nokomis and Englewood fire districts) plus the city of Venice.[15]

Law enforcement

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office (SSO) is the county's primary law enforcement agency. It is responsible for patrolling the unincorporated areas of the county along with operating the county's jail and providing courtroom security. SSO also operates the county's primary 911 center. The cities of Sarasota, North Port, and Venice along with the Town of Longboat Key each have their own police departments. The Florida Highway Patrol is responsible for patrolling FDOT maintained roads in the county (Florida State Highway System) and investigating motor vehicle accidents that occur in unincorporated areas.[16]

Three specialist law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction in the county: the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Police Department,[17] the New College/USF Sarasota-Manatee Campus Police Department[18] and the Seminole Gulf Railway (SGLR) Police Department.[19] Each agency has jurisdiction in neighboring Manatee County as well; each agency's properties extend into that county.

Voter registration

All voter information is since March 31, 2022 and provided by Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office:[20]

Party statistics

Party Registered Voters Percentage
Republican 151,623 43.05%
Democratic 103,217 29.31%
No party affiliation 90,695 25.75%
Minor parties 6,644 1.89%
Total Voters 352,179 100.00%

Government officials

United States Senate

Office Senator Party
Class 3 Senator Marco Rubio Republican
Class 1 Senator Rick Scott Republican

United States House of Representatives

District Representative Party
Florida's 17th Congressional District Greg Steube Republican

Florida State Senate

District Senator Party
23 Joe Gruters Republican

Florida House of Representatives

District Representative Party
73 Fiona McFarland Republican
74 James Buchanan Republican
75 Michael Grant Republican

Sarasota County Commission

The Board of County Commissioners include the following:[21]

Position Incumbent
District 1 Michael Moran
District 2 Mark Smith
District 3 Nancy Detert
District 4 Joe Neunder
District 5 Ron Cutsinger

Sarasota County School Board

The School Board members include the following:<[22]

Position Incumbent
District 1 Bridget Ziegler
District 2 Karen Rose
District 3 Tom Edwards
District 4 Robyn A. Marinelli
District 5 Tim Enos



Major highways and state roads

Public transportation


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[24]
1790-1960[25] 1900–1990[26]
1990–2000[27] 2010-2020[1]
Some areas of Sarasota County, such as Casey Key near Nokomis, are very wealthy.
Some areas of Sarasota County, such as Casey Key near Nokomis, are very wealthy.
Sarasota County racial composition as of 2020
(NH = Non-Hispanic)[a]
Race Pop 2010[30] Pop 2020[31] % 2010 % 2020
White (NH) 321,978 349,700 84.85% 80.57%
Black or African American (NH) 17,036 16,165 4.49% 3.72%
Native American or Alaska Native (NH) 667 695 0.18% 0.16%
Asian (NH) 4,818 8,407 1.27% 1.94%
Pacific Islander (NH) 102 168 0.03% 0.04%
Some Other Race (NH) 545 1,902 0.14% 0.44%
Mixed/Multi-Racial (NH) 4,269 13,733 1.13% 3.16%
Hispanic or Latino 30,033 43,236 7.91% 9.96%
Total 379,448 434,006

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 434,006 people, 189,228 households, and 117,532 families residing in the county. 3.5% of that population was under the age of 5 years old, 14.0% was under 18 years old, and 37.4% was 65 years or older. 52.4% was female.

The median household income was $64,644 with a per capita income of $44,402. 8.7% of population below the poverty threshold. The median value of owner-occupied housing-units between 2016-2020 was $269,300 and the median gross rent was $1,342.

There were 41,215 veterans living in the county. 12.2% of the population were Foreign born persons. 93.2% of the population that was 25 years or older were High school graduates and 36.4% of those 25 years or older had a Bachelor's degree or higher.

Religions As of 2010, the religious affiliations of the people of Sarasota County, according to Pew Research Center were:[32]

Religion or Denomination Numbers of Adherents
Catholic 76,000
Don't Know 214,357
Baptist 18,495
Methodist 12,349
Lutheran 4,309
Presbyterian 10,903
Pentecostal 6,860
Episcopal 6,032
Other 9,089


Top private employers

As of January 2018, the top private employers for Sarasota County are as follows:[33]

  1. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System (4,563)
  2. PGT Innovations (2,000)
  3. Publix (1,733)
  4. Venice Regional Medical Center (812)
  5. Sun Hydraulics (632)
  6. Tervis Tumbler (570)
  7. Shared Services Center Sarasota (455)
  8. FCCI Insurance (426)
  9. Doctors Hospital (415)
  10. Jackson Hewitt, Inc. (337)

Top public and private employers

As of October 2018, the top employees for Sarasota County, including public sector jobs, are as follows:[34]

  1. School Board of Sarasota County (4,563)
  2. Sarasota Memorial Hospital (4,244)
  3. Sarasota County Government (3,533)
  4. Publix Supermarkets (2,793)
  5. PGT Industries (2,079)

Sports and recreation

Sarasota County is home to Ed Smith Stadium, where the Baltimore Orioles currently have spring training. The Orioles also have minor league facilities at Twin Lakes Park. In January 2017, the Braves announced a formal agreement to move their Spring Training home to North Port.[35] CoolToday Park opened on March 24, 2019.[36][37]

Sarasota County is also home to Nathan Benderson Park. The facility has played host to the 2017 World Rowing Championships and subsequent World Rowing events in 2018 and 2019. It has also been the host of the 2016 Olympic Time Trials - Rowing and will host the delayed 2020 Olympic rowing time trials. NBP has also been the site of multiple NCAA national rowing championship regattas, the USRowing Youth National Championships, and other rowing regattas and dragon boat festivals since 2011. The park will host the 2021 U.S. Dragon Boat Federation National Championships and the 2022 International Dragon Boat Federation Club Crew World Championships, after holding the 2014 International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission world regatta.[38][39]

Nathan Benderson Park is also the site of Olympic qualifying events in triathlon and paratriathlon, with several ITU Triathlon World Cup and Americas Triathlon Cup events over the years. Numerous community running and walking events, music and food festivals and other community events are held in the park, including the annual NBP Fireworks On The Lake, held every July 3, and NBP Trick Or Treat On The Lake, held the last week of October.[citation needed]


Primary and secondary education

Higher education

Museums and libraries

Main article: Sarasota County Library System

Library branches:[40]

Sarasota County residents may obtain library cards for free and valid library cards may be used to check out materials at all ten Sarasota County libraries. Manatee and Charlotte County residents, as well as library users from any of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium libraries may register as reciprocal borrowers and check out materials in Sarasota County. Non-resident cards are available for purchase and offer the same privileges as resident cards.

The library system provides a variety of services which include adult, teen and children's materials. Computers for public use are available at all nine Sarasota County Libraries and free wireless access in the libraries is provided by the Sarasota County Government. The library system has licensing to the Cloud Library, OverDrive, Inc. and Freegal Music. Ask a Librarian, the on-line Florida librarian reference system is available through the Sarasota County Public Library System. Sarasota County residents have access to the Pinellas Talking Book Library as well as a Books-by-Mail service.[41] The Selby Public Library has been a selective depository in the Federal Depository Library Program and receives almost 50% of the government publications distributed through the program.[41] Additionally, the Sarasota County Library System is an organization member of the Florida Library Association.

The Little Free Library program was introduced to Sarasota County in 2014 as the result of a collaborative effort between the Libraries and Historical Resources department, the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources department and the UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension and Sustainability department. The Sarasota County Little Free Libraries have been placed at thirteen different county parks and recreation centers.[42]


The first library, which was established in 1907 by the Sarasota Town Improvement Society. County libraries have been established in response to community demands and needs.

The first libraries were autonomous with the Head Librarians reporting directly to the County Administrator. Sarasota Public Library was managed by Betty Service, the Englewood library by Harriet Ives, and Venice by Jean McGuire. Joan Hopkins directed and coordinated library services for the rapidly growing population. She directed the establishment of Gulf Gate Public Library, North Port Public Library, Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Public Library and the new downtown Sarasota library, and laid the groundwork for building future libraries in the county.[43]

Local media



Sarasota County is part of the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota DMA, however the following stations have facilities located in the county:

Television stations serving all or part of Sarasota County but located in Saint Petersburg or Tampa include:





Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

See also


  1. ^ Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.[28][29]


  1. ^ a b "QuickFacts for Sarasota County, Florida". U.S. Census Bureau. August 2021. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Royal, William; Clark, Eugenie (October 1960). "Natural Preservation of Human Brain, Warm Mineral Springs, Florida". American Antiquity. 26 (2): 285–287. JSTOR 276213. Retrieved April 4, 2022.
  4. ^ Chapline, George F. "The Legend of Sara DeSoto". Sarasota History Alive. Retrieved January 3, 2023.
  5. ^ Barth, John Jr. "The Origin of the Name, Sarasota". Sarasota History Alive. Sarasota County Historical Resources. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  6. ^ Stack, Margaret (2011). "Chapter 2: Background History". An Archaeological and Archival Appraisal of "Spanish Indians" on the West Coast of Florida in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. pp. 10–13.
  7. ^ Sarasota County Public Records. "Harrison and Laura Watson Residence". Sarasota History Alive. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  8. ^ "Armed Occupation Act". My Florida History. The Florida Historical Society. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  9. ^ Burger, Bill. "A Military Post on Sarasota Bay". Sarasota History Alive. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  10. ^ "History of Florida Counties". Tenth Judicial Circuit of Florida Historical Society. Retrieved April 18, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  12. ^ "Sarasota County Charter" (PDF). July 2012. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 28, 2016. Retrieved May 19, 2019.
  13. ^ "Sarasota and Manatee wallets open for president's campaign". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  14. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on April 14, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  15. ^ "Fire Department". Sarasota County government. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  16. ^ "Jurisdiction of the Florida Highway Patrol" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on December 28, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  17. ^ "Airport Police". Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. Archived from the original on December 5, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  18. ^ "Campus Police". New College of Florida. Archived from the original on November 23, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  19. ^ "41426 - Decision". Surface Transportation Board. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2014.
  20. ^ "Sarasota County, FL : Supervisor of Elections". Sarasota County, FL : Supervisor of Elections. SOE Software Corporation. April 20, 2022. Retrieved April 20, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ "Sarasota County Commission (BCC)". Sarasota County. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  22. ^ "Sarasota County Election Results for August 23, 2022 | Sarasota Herald-Tribune". Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  23. ^ "Pages - SCAT Home". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  24. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  25. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  26. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  27. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  28. ^[not specific enough to verify]
  29. ^ "About the Hispanic Population and its Origin". Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  30. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  31. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  32. ^ "Religions in Sarasota".
  33. ^ "Top Employers". EDC Sarasota. January 2018. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  34. ^ "Fiscal Year 2019 Adopted Budget". Sarasota County Government. October 1, 2018. p. 40. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  35. ^ Murdock, Zack (January 17, 2017). "Atlanta Braves pick Sarasota County for spring training". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Archived from the original on February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  36. ^ "Atlanta Braves Extend Spring Training Agreement with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex through April, 2019" (Press release). Atlanta, Georgia: Atlanta Braves Baseball Club. January 31, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018.
  37. ^ Tucker, Tim (March 24, 2019). "Braves' Gausman takes 'another step' toward 'being ready'". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  38. ^ "From pasture to sandpit to a world-class venue: Nathan Benderson Park history". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. August 16, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  39. ^ Sullivan, Robert (October 1, 2016). "Nathan Benderson Park: A Classic Reclamation Project". National Recreation and Park Association. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  40. ^ "Locations and Hours". Sarasota County. Retrieved January 3, 2020.
  41. ^ a b "Services and Policies". Sarasota County Government. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  42. ^ "Little Free Libraries". Sarasota County Government. Archived from the original on April 10, 2018. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  43. ^ "Sarasota County Library System". Florida Studies Center Publications. University of South Florida Tampa Library. January 1990. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  44. ^ " - About Us: Fact Sheet - About Us: Fact Sheet -". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  45. ^ "About Scene". Scene Magazine. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  46. ^ Observer Media Group. "About Us". Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.