Bay County is a county in the U.S. state of Florida. The population as of the 2010 census was 168,852. Its county seat is Panama City, Florida. The county is best known for its white sand beaches and crystal blue water, where large pods of dolphins swim year-round. These beaches attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.
Bay County is coextensive with the Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area, one of the metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and used for statistical purposes by the Census Bureau and other agencies. The OMB has designated Panama City, Lynn Haven, and Panama City Beach as the metropolitan statistical area's principal cities. The Panama City, Florida Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area was first defined in 1981. Lynn Haven was added as a principal city in 2003. On November 20, 2008, the MSA took on its present name when Panama City Beach was designated a principal city by the Office of Management and Budget.
On February 12, 1913, representatives from five towns on St. Andrews Bay met in Panama City to select a name for a proposed new county. The name Bay was selected because it was satisfactory to the majority of the citizens and was descriptive of the territory that would be included. On July 1, 1913, Bay County was created by the Legislature from portions of Washington, Calhoun and Walton counties.
It was the site of Gideon v. Wainwright, which gave all persons accused of a crime the right to an attorney.