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DeSoto County, Florida facts for kids

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DeSoto County
DeSoto County Courthouse
DeSoto County Courthouse
Official seal of DeSoto County
Map of Florida highlighting DeSoto County
Location within the U.S. state of Florida
Map of the United States highlighting Florida
Florida's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Florida
Founded May 19, 1887
Named for Hernando de Soto
Seat Arcadia
Largest city Arcadia
 • Total 639 sq mi (1,660 km2)
 • Land 637 sq mi (1,650 km2)
 • Water 2.4 sq mi (6 km2)  0.4%%
 • Estimate 
 • Density 55/sq mi (21/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 17th
Desoto Courthouse
DeSoto County Courthouse

DeSoto County is a county located at the tropical/humid subtropical line which means the Florida Heartland, central portion of the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the population was 34,862. Its county seat is Arcadia.

DeSoto County comprises the Arcadia, FL Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the North Port-Sarasota, FL Combined Statistical Area.


DeSoto County was created in 1887 from Manatee County. It was named for Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, whose name was also honored in Hernando County.

DeSoto County originally included several other present-day counties until 1921, when the Florida legislature created the following new counties: Charlotte, Glades, Hardee, and Highlands.

During World War II, DeSoto County operated the Carlstrom Field Air Base, which provided training for both American and British pilots. Twenty-three British pilots were killed while training at the base and are honored at DeSoto County's Oak Ridge Cemetery, which is located in the town of Arcadia. In 1945, the base turned out its last cadets and was decommissioned. The base was then sold to the State of Florida for one dollar and later converted into a mental health facility known as G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital. The hospital has since been converted into a facility for juvenile offenders. The facility was closed and is now up for sale.

On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley passed directly through DeSoto County. Hurricane-force winds persisted for an hour, damaging most of the structures in the county and causing some to be completely destroyed.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 639 square miles (1,660 km2), of which 637 square miles (1,650 km2) is land and 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) (0.4%) is water.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 4,944
1900 8,047 62.8%
1910 14,200 76.5%
1920 25,434 79.1%
1930 7,745 −69.5%
1940 7,792 0.6%
1950 9,242 18.6%
1960 11,683 26.4%
1970 13,060 11.8%
1980 19,039 45.8%
1990 23,865 25.3%
2000 32,209 35.0%
2010 34,862 8.2%
2019 (est.) 38,001 9.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2019

As of the census of 2000, there were 32,209 people, 10,746 households, and 7,672 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile (20/km2). There were 13,608 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 73.33% White, 12.72% Black or African American, 1.59% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 10.49% from other races, and 1.43% from two or more races. 24.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

2005 estimates showed the population as being 56.3% non-Hispanic white, 31.4% Latino, 11.8% African-American and 2.9% Native American. (Source=WebCite query result

In 2000 there were 10,746 households, out of which 26.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.50% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.60% were non-families. 21.00% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.00.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.70% under the age of 18, 11.20% from 18 to 24, 26.70% from 25 to 44, 20.50% from 45 to 64, and 19.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 128.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 134.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,714, and the median income for a family was $34,726. Males had a median income of $22,572 versus $20,004 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,000. About 14.20% of families and 23.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.50% of those under age 18 and 7.30% of those age 65 or over.


DeSoto County is part of the Heartland Library Cooperative which has 7 branches that serve DeSoto County and some of the surrounding counties, including Glades, Highlands, Hardee, and Okeechobee.

  • Avon Park
  • DeSoto
  • Glades
  • Hardee
  • Lake Placid
  • Okeechobee
  • Sebring


Hernando de Soto 1881
Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto


Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities

Ghost town



Arcadia Municipal Airport is the only public-use airport in DeSoto County.

Major highways

  • I-75.svg Interstate 75
  • US 17.svg U.S. Route 17
  • Florida 31.svg State Road 31
  • Florida 70.svg State Road 70
  • Florida 72.svg State Road 72

I-75 runs only a short section in the very southwestern tip of the county and has no major junctions within the county.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de DeSoto (Florida) para niños

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