Gainesville is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Alachua County, Florida, United States as well as the principal city of the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The preliminary 2010 Census population count for Gainesville is 124,354. Gainesville is home to sixth largest campus in the USA, the University of Florida, as well as to Santa Fe College. The Gainesville MSA was ranked as the #1 place to live in the 2007 edition of Cities Ranked and Rated. Gainesville was also ranked as one of the "best places to live and play" in 2007 by National Geographic Adventure. Gainesville was additionally ranked as the 5th meanest city in the USA by the National Coalition for the Homeless twice in a row, in 2004 for its criminalization of homelessness and in 2009 for its ordinance restricting soup kitchens to 130-meals a day.
12,000 years ago Paleo Indians lived in Florida, but fewer than 100 sites have been found and although it is not known for certain whether any permanent settlements from that period were in the present city limits of Gainesville, archeological evidence of human presence exists.
By around 700 AD, the environs of Gainesville region were inhabited by the people of the Alachua culture. In the recorded period, the region was home to the Potano, a Timucua chiefdom (the town of Potano was in what is now the San Felasco Hammock northwest of Gainesville).