Pasco County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. Its 2010 population was 464,697. Its county seat is Dade City and its largest city is New Port Richey. Pasco, together with Hernando, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties comprise the Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, and along with various combinations of Manatee and Sarasota counties further south, Citrus County to the north, and Polk County to the east is often referred to as the Tampa Bay Area. , Pasco was the 38th fastest growing county in the country.
The county is named for Samuel Pasco. It includes numerous parks and trails including along rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, lakes, and highway/ railroad right of ways. Several nudist resorts are located in Pasco. West Pasco includes retirement areas, commercial fishing, and suburbs of Tampa. East Pasco is transitioning from forested and agricultural areas to suburban developments. The Suncoast Highway and U.S. 275 both pass through Pasco. Pasco is one of the whitest counties in Florida.
Pasco County was created on June 2, 1887, from the southern third of Hernando County. The same legislation also created Citrus County from the northern third of Hernando County. The county was named for Samuel Pasco, who had just been elected to the United States Senate. Dade City was named the temporary county seat until a popular vote was held in 1889, at which time voters made Dade City the permanent county seat. As early as 1917, residents of the western part of the county proposed forming a separate county or merging with Pinellas County, as Dade City was not centrally located in the county. The issue was finally resolved in the late 1970s with the construction of identical government centers in both Dade City and New Port Richey.
The earliest towns were Anclote, Blanton, Dade City, Earnestville, Fort Dade, Macon (Trilby), Lacoochee and San Antonio. Citrus was an important industry when the county was formed, although a decline followed a freeze in 1895. Several large sawmills operated in the county in the early part of the twentieth century. During the Florida land boom of the 1920s, New Port Richey became the winter home of silent screen star Thomas Meighan and golfer Gene Sarazen; Meighan attempted to bring other Hollywood figures to the city. The county has experienced significant population growth since the 1960s. The growth began along the Gulf coast but is now occurring most rapidly in areas north of Tampa.