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The Central Coast is an area of California, United States, roughly spanning the area between the Monterey Bay and Point Conception. It extends through Santa Cruz County, San Benito County, Monterey County, San Luis Obispo County, and Santa Barbara County.
The Central Coast is also the location of the Central Coast American Viticultural Area.
The region is known primarily for agriculture and tourism. Major crops include lettuce, strawberries, and artichokes. In particular, the Salinas Valley is one of the most fertile farming regions in the United States. Popular tourist attractions include Cannery Row (in Monterey), the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the golf courses of Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula, the rugged coastline of Big Sur and Hearst Castle in San Simeon.
Overall, the area is not very densely populated, not surprising considering that the primary industry is agriculture. The largest city in the region is Salinas, with approximately 150,000 people. Due to the low population density of the central coast, educational and cultural resouces are relatively scarce. University of California campuses are found both in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, on the extreme north and south edges of the region, respectively. One of the universities found within the central coast area itself is California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), founded in 1994 using facilities donated when Fort Ord was converted from military to civilian uses. In San Luis Obispo, the state university California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) was founded in 1901, and has been in full operation for decades.