Sarasota County is a county located in the U.S. state of Florida. Its 2010 population was 379,448. Its county seat is Sarasota and its largest city is North Port. Sarasota County is a part of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota Metropolitan Statistical Area and along with Manatee County and other counties to the north, often is considered part of the Tampa Bay Area.
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 County, then Manatee County as the state was divided into smaller and smaller governmental organizations. 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.
Note: After 1950 some sparsely settled portions of Manatee and Sarasota were annexed to DeSoto, but these changes were reversed after 1960.