|Sarasota metropolitan area|
|Principal cities of MSA||
|• Total||3,356 km2 (1,295.8 sq mi)|
|• Density||209.3/km2 (542.0/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 ( EST)|
|• Summer ( DST)||UTC−4 ( EDT)|
The U.S. federal government has defined the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton metropolitan statistical area as a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) consisting of Manatee County and Sarasota County. The largest cities in the MSA are North Port and Sarasota (both in Sarasota County) and Bradenton (in Manatee County). At the 2010 census, the MSA had a population of 702,281. The Census Bureau estimates that its population was 720,042 in 2012.
Additionally, the federal government defines the North Port–Sarasota combined statistical area as a combined statistical area (CSA) consisting of the combination of the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton MSA, the Punta Gorda, Florida MSA ( Charlotte County), and the Arcadia, Florida, micropolitan statistical area ( DeSoto County).
The Sarasota standard metropolitan statistical area (SMSA) was first defined in 1973, and included only Sarasota County. The Bradenton SMSA was defined after the 1980 United States Census, and included only Manatee County. The two MSAs were combined in 1993 as the Sarasota–Bradenton metropolitan statistical area. Venice was added as a principal city after the 2000 census. In 2007, the MSA was renamed the Bradenton–Sarasota–Venice MSA because Bradenton's population then exceeded that of Sarasota.  In 2009, the area was designated the North Port–Bradenton–Sarasota MSA after North Port qualified as a "principal city" under the metropolitan statistical area definition and was determined to be the largest of the area's three principal cities.  As of 2013, the MSA is named the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton metropolitan statistical area. 
The North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton MSA is a component of the larger North Port–Sarasota combined statistical area, which also includes the Punta Gorda, Florida, MSA and the Arcadia, Florida, micropolitan statistical area. 
The federal MSA delineation and nomenclature were criticized by a Sarasota Herald-Tribune columnist. The columnist noted that the order of principal cities in the MSA'a name is based on their relative populations, placing North Port first because its population is somewhat higher than the populations of Sarasota and Bradenton. According to the column, not only is the population difference small, but the population ranking does not reflect the actual relative significance of the three cities. North Port is a spread-out suburban community on a land area of about 100 square miles (260 km2), while Sarasota is a concentrated urban center on less than 15 square miles (39 km2). Additionally, many areas outside of the Sarasota city limits carry a "Sarasota" address and locals use "Sarasota" in reference to these unincorporated areas alongside the city proper. The federal government only considers the City of Sarasota's population in the MSA nomenclature. The columnist also objected to the MSA boundaries, noting that North Port is much closer to Port Charlotte than it is to Sarasota and Bradenton and stating that North Port is generally treated as part of the Port Charlotte area. 
At the 2010 census, the MSA had a population of 702,281,  a 19% increase over the 2000 census population of 589,959.  The Census Bureau estimates that the area's population was 720,042 in 2012, a 2.5% increase since the 2010 census. 
|Five largest cities in the MSA |
|City||2010 Population ||County|
The Sarasota metropolitan area, like most of Florida, is located in the humid subtropical zone ( Köppen climate classification:Cfa).  There are hot, humid summers with frequent afternoon thunderstorms and relatively drier and mild winters.
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- Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical area definitions