Sarasota (/?sær??so?t?/) is a city located in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the U.S. state of Florida. The area is renowned for its cultural and environmental amenities, beaches, resorts, connections to the Ringling family, and the Sarasota School of Architecture.
Europeans first explored the area in the early sixteenth century. The first recorded contact was in 1513, when a Spanish expedition landed at Charlotte Harbor, just to the south. Spanish was used by the natives during some of the initial encounters, providing evidence of earlier contacts. Having been identified on maps by the mid-eighteenth century as Zara Zote, perhaps from an indigenous name, the sheltered bay and its harbor attracted fish and marine traders. Soon there were fishing camps called ranchos along the bay that were established by both Americans and Cubans who traded fish and turtles with merchants in Havana. Florida changed hands between the Spanish, the English, and then the Spanish again.