Manatee County is located on the western coast of Florida just south of Tampa and St. Petersburg. It has a population of around 327,000. Bradenton is the county seat, and is located on the western side of the county.
Manatee County is famous as the rumored location of the landing of the famous expolorer Hernando De Soto on his expedition to the land that is now Florida. It was later inhabited by sugar plantation owners who chose the area, with its abundant land and ideal weather for sugar cane, to build their homes and plantations. Manatee County was established in 1855. It was derived from the Hillsborough county. At the time, Manatee County was much larger, spreading into areas which now belong to other counties.
The county was named after the manatee, or sea cow, which is native to the beaches of Florida. Visitors to Anna Maria Island and surrounding areas can still sometimes glimpse these fascinating creatures relaxing in the shallow canals and bays in the county.
The coastline on the western side of Manatee County is home to nearly a dozen artificial reefs. These reefs create a perfect environment where humans and wildlife and coexist. The reefs provide places for a wide variety of fascinating creatures to live, as well as provide unique opportunities for those who live in the area to fish and dive.
The county is perfectly situated. With its easy access to coastline activities, as well as quick access to St. Petersburg over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and to Tampa via I-75, it is a convenient gateway to many locations and amusements.