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Forty miles south of Tampa and just seven miles west of Bradenton, Anna Maria is a paradise island. With the Gulf of Mexico to the west, Tampa Bay and Anna Maria Sound to the east and Sarasota Bay to the south, the seven-mile-long tropical island is a gem, with beautiful white-sand beaches on all sides and a year-round population of just 1800. The island was originally discovered by the Timucan and Caloosan Native Americans and then by Spanish explorers.