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County Size
1022.5 sq miles

Discover Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County, positioned in the west-central section of Florida, emerges as a vibrant and populous region. As of the latest 2020 census, it has ascended to become Florida's fourth-most populous county with a total of 1,459,762 residents, distinguishing itself as the most populous county outside the Miami metropolitan area. With a steady growth rate, it was estimated in 2021 to house 1,512,070 people. Tampa, the county seat, anchors the expansive Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area. Geographically, Hillsborough County sprawls over 1,266 square miles, with 1,020 square miles of it land and the remaining 246 square miles water, accounting for 19.4% of its area. This expanse includes approximately 158.27 miles of shoreline along Tampa Bay. Noteworthy is the county's strategic location with a narrow stretch extending west to the Gulf of Mexico, which keeps it from being landlocked. Significant locations within the county include the central portion of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and Egmont Key at the Tampa Bay entrance. The county also boasts a rich agricultural heritage with strawberry production leading the way, contributing significantly to an agricultural commodity market exceeding $832 million in sales in 2011. Hillsborough's urban layout includes only three incorporated cities—Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace—with the majority of its expansive area remaining unincorporated, managed directly by the Hillsborough County board of commissioners.

Hillsborough County, Florida, has a rich ancient history that dates back to the early 16th century when it was first explored by the Spanish. Before being claimed by European powers, the area was inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Tocobaga and the Calusa. The region came under Spanish control with the arrival of explorers such as Hernando de Soto in the 1530s, marking the beginning of a long period of colonization. The area was governed by Spain until it was purchased by the United States in 1821 as part of the Adams-Onís Treaty. This acquisition marked the start of American influence and development in the region. Hillsborough County was established on January 25, 1834, carved out from parts of Alachua and Monroe Counties during the U.S. territorial period. Named after Wills Hill, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, it once spanned an area that included several of today's neighboring counties. Over the years, it has undergone numerous boundary adjustments, including a major one in 1911 which led to the creation of Pinellas County. A notable historical milestone includes hosting the world's first scheduled commercial airline service in 1914, linking St. Petersburg and Tampa.

Exploring Hillsborough County offers a wealth of activities and sites for both residents and visitors. For art and history enthusiasts, Tampa houses several museums such as the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, and the Tampa Bay History Center, each offering unique exhibits and collections that highlight both local and international cultures. Children and families can enjoy interactive learning experiences at the Glazer Children’s Museum or delve into science at the Museum of Science & Industry. Nature lovers have a plethora of parks and preserves to choose from. The Alafia River State Park and the Hillsborough River State Park provide scenic trails, river views, and wildlife spotting opportunities. For those interested in aquatic activities, the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve offers an exceptional environment for kayaking and observing marine life. Additionally, the Edward Medard Park and Reservoir is a popular spot for fishing and picnicking. The county also caters to those interested in sports and outdoor activities. The Upper Tampa Bay Trail and the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park are perfect for more athletic pursuits, including cycling, rollerblading, and fishing. For a quiet day spent in nature, the Lithia Springs Regional Park offers crystal-clear waters that are ideal for swimming during the hot Florida days.

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