Manatee County is a county in the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 322,833. Its county seat and largest city is Bradenton. The county was created in 1855. It was named for the Florida manatee (commonly called a "sea cow" and distantly related to the elephant), which is endangered and Florida's official marine mammal.
Manatee County is included in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Features of Manatee County include access to the Southern part of Tampa Bay, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and the Manatee River. Rowing facilities are being developed in the area and the Upper Manatee River Canoe Trail has been created. There are several parks and preserves.
About 1.8 percent of all of Florida's population lives in Manatee County and it ranks 15h among Florida counties in population.
The area was opened to settlement in 1842. The first two settlers were Joseph Braden and Hector Braden who moved into an area near the Manatee River, The two had lost their land for their plantations in Northern Florida during the Panic of 1837. They were said to have heard about that there was abundant land in the area. The brothers moved into a log cabin 5 miles north of the mouth of the Manatee River. Four years later Hector had drowned while trying to cross the Manatee River on his horse during a hurricane. Despite this tragic event, Joseph decided that he would still build his sugar plantation, the Braden sugar mill at the mouth of the Manatee River and the Braden River. He later built a dock where Main Street was at and fortified the area near his house building a stockade. A few years later in 1851, he would build the Braden Castle, which was made out of tabby and served as his residence. It would later become a popular tourist attraction in the early 1900s with Tin Can Tourists. He would only stay there for the next six years before moving to Tallahassee.
In 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the county's population was 385,571. The racial makeup of the county was 86.2% White, 9.2% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 1.8% from two or more races. 16.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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