Sarasota is a city located in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the state of Florida in the United States. Its current official limits include Sarasota Bay and several barrier islands between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. These islands separating Sarasota Bay from the gulf near the city, known as keys, include Lido Key and Siesta Key, which are famous worldwide for the quality of their sandy beaches. Today the keys that are included in the boundary of Sarasota are Lido Key, Saint Armand Key, Otter Key, Coon Key, Bird Key, and portions of Longboat Key and Siesta Key. Previously, Siesta Key was named Sarasota Key. At one time, it and all of Longboat Key were considered part of Sarasota and confusing contemporaneous references may be found discussing them. Longboat Key is the largest key separating the bay from the gulf, but it now is evenly divided by the new county line of 1921. Most of the portion of the key that parallels the Sarasota city boundary (at that county line) along the bay front of the mainland was removed from the city boundaries at the request of John Ringling in the mid-1920s, to avoid taxation of his new developments at the southern tip of the key. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sarasota had a population of 54,349 in 2004. In 1986 it became designated as a certified local government. Sarasota is a principal city of the Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, and is the seat of Sarasota County. It is among the communities included in a two-county federally-mandated Metropolitan Planning Organization that includes all of Sarasota and Manatee counties and the chairs of the three elements of that organization belong to the eight-county regional planning organization for western central Florida.