Pensacola, city, seat (1822) of Escambia county, extreme northwestern Florida, U.S. It lies on Pensacola Bay (an arm of the Gulf of Mexico), about 35 miles (55 km) west of Fort Walton Beach and 60 miles (100 km) southeast of Mobile, Alabama.
A Spanish settlement was made on the bay coast in 1559 but was abandoned two years later. The Spaniards formally took possession in 1698 and built Fort San Carlos de Austria, but this was ravaged during the colonial fighting between France and Spain in 1719–20. After the British gained control in 1763, Pensacola (a name derived from Pansfalaya, a local Native American tribe) became the capital of West Florida.