Punta Gorda City Hall

Charlotte County is located along the Gulf of Mexico on the southwestern shoreline of Florida. Charlotte County contains 694 square miles of land and 166 square miles of water surface. The county seat is Punta Gorda. These days, the Charlotte County area has become a bit of a mecca for retirees and snowbirds escaping the winter cold of the northern states and Canada.

The Spanish named Carlos Bay (perhaps as a corruption of "Calos" or "Calusa," the name for the indigenous tribe that occupied the area of southwest Florida from Charlotte Bay to Cape Sable and the Florida Keys - although "Carlos" is said to have meant "fierce people" in that native language). In 1775, the English came along and changed the name to "Charlotte Bay," in honor of Queen Charlotte Sophia, the wife of King George III. Charlotte County was established by the Florida Legislature on April 23, 1921.

Charlotte Harbor Estuary (inland from Charlotte Bay) is one of the most productive natural preserves in Florida. Part of the estuary is included in the Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness.

Hurricane Charley came ashore near Port Charlotte as a Category 4 hurricane in 2004 and damaged the area heavily.