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DeSoto County Florida   Located in South West Florida

DeSoto County Cities

Fort Ogden
Pine Level

Land area (rank): 636 square miles (41)
Population 1993 (rank): 25,461 (48)
Population density 1990 (rank): 40 persons per square mile (47)
Rank in growth 1980-1990: 25.4% (43)

Physical Characteristics

De Soto County is east of the Sarasota-Bradenton area and is bordered by Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee, and Highlands counties. The county has 3 square miles of water. The average January temperature is 63.0 degrees F, and the average August temperature is 81.9 degrees F. The average annual rainfall is 50.66 inches.


De Soto County was established from a portion of Manatee County in 1887 and named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.


In 1993 over 70% of De Soto County's population was in unincorporated areas. The only incorporated area is Arcadia, which in 1993 had a population of 6,543. The unincorporated area of Southeast Arcadia had a population of 4,145 in 1990. In 1993, 83% of De Soto County's population was white and 17% was nonwhite. In 1990, 9.6% of the population was Hispanic. Of the population increase between 1980 and 1990, 89.3% was due to net migration. The 1992 birth rate for the county was 15.6 live births per 1,000 persons, and the 1992 death rate was 10.4 deaths per 1,000 persons. In 1992 the infant mortality rate was 10.3 per 1,000. The leading causes of death in 1993 were heart disease, cancer, and accidents.


Of all 1992 high school graduates, 51.7% planned to continue their education. The 1992 high school dropout rate for the county was 4.4%. In 1990, 54.5% of persons in the county were high school graduates, and 7.6% had completed four or more years of college. Colleges and universities. Florida Southern College at Port Charlotte (Lake Suzy).


The per capita income in De Soto County in 1993 was $14,534 (44th highest in the state). The median household income in 1989 was $20,962. In 1989, 14.2% of families had incomes below the poverty level. In 1990, 25.9% of personal income in De Soto County was derived from transfer payments. In 1992 the greatest numbers of persons in De Soto County were employed in the government, retail trade, and agricultural sectors. Florida Health and Rehabilitative Services District Office in Arcadia, Arcadia Road Prison, and De Soto Correctional Institution are major government employers. Eating and drinking establishments are the major employers in the service sector. In 1992 there were 804 farms in De Soto County, totalling 334,623 acres (82% of land in the county). De Soto County is a major producer of citrus and cattle. In 1991, 230 thousand board feet of softwood logs and 46,658 cords of softwood for pulp were produced in the county.

Median value of a single-family home 1990: $49,600
Median monthly rent 1990: $272
Mobile homes as a % of total housing: 36.4
Housing starts 1992: 101
Housing starts 1993: 81

In 1992 the price level index for De Soto County was 95.45 (27th highest in the state).

Local Government

In 1993, the ad valorem millage rate was 8.4800, and the total taxable value of property was $585,466,503. Taxable sales totalled $126.10 million in 1992 and $126.30 million in 1993. Lottery sales totalled $3,168 thousand in 1992-93. In 1990-91 De Soto County's revenues totalled $15,889 thousand ($647.6 per capita) and its expenditures $16,657 thousand ($678.9 per capita). Of those 18 years of age and older, 56.2% were registered to vote in 1992. Of these, 75.7% were registered Democrat and 21.8% were registered Republican. In the 1992 presidential election, 41.3% of the votes were cast for Bush, 35.6% for Clinton, and 22.7% for Perot.

Events and Places of Interest

All-Florida Championship Rodeo, Arcadia, March; De Soto Watermelon Festival, Arcadia, May; Arcadia Historic District.

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