Archaeological evidence indicates the shores of Tampa Bay were inhabited by indigenous peoples for thousands of years.The Safety Harbor culture developed in the area around the year 1000 AD, and the descendant Tocobaga and Pohoy chiefdoms were living in or near the current city limits of Tampa when the area was first visited by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.One particular post saw the socialite flaunting her slender figure in the vibrant frock, alongside the caption: 'Cup Day here we come.' A following image saw the brand ambassador giving a close-up of her beauty look, alongside the text: 'On Cup Day we wear PINK (of course).' a black and white off-the-shoulder lace dress with fringe detail on the sleeves and hems.
The first civilian residents were pioneer ranchers and farmers who settled near the fort for protection from the nearby Seminole population.
The town grew slowly, and had become a minor shipping port for cattle and citrus by the time of the United States Civil War. Census data showed an average annual growth of 2.47 percent, or a gain of approximately 97,000 residents per year.
Interactions between native peoples and the Spanish were brief and often violent, and although the newcomers did not stay for long, they introduced European diseases which brought the collapse of native societies across the Florida peninsula over the ensuing decades.
Although Spain claimed all of Florida and beyond as part of New Spain, it did not found a colony on the west coast.
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While "Tanpa" may be the basis for the modern name, archaeologist Jerald Milanich states that the Calusa village of Tanpa was on the shores of Charlotte Harbor, which is about 65 miles south of Tampa Bay.
A later Spanish expedition did not notice the mouth of Charlotte Harbor while sailing north along the west coast of Florida and assumed that the current Tampa Bay was the bay they sought, thus accidentally transferring the name on Spanish navigational charts.
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After the disappearance of the indigenous populations, there were no permanent settlements in the Tampa Bay area until after the United States acquired Florida from Spain in 1821.