Seattle's location in the northwest United States gives it one of the most stunning natural settings in North America. It is the largest city in Washington state and is nestled between three national parks and two mountain ranges. Seattle is pristine and tourists and residents alike are drawn by its bounty of urban and outdoor attractions. The “Gateway to Alaska” is home to all branches of the performing arts and is well-known for its many festivals, concerts and fairs. Sports lovers will also find themselves at home - baseball, soccer and basketball are just a few of the sports represented at a professional level. Indeed, Seattle's mild climate lends itself to all sorts of outdoor pursuits, with hiking, swimming, cycling and skiing all popular pastimes. What is special or unique about your city? Resting on the Pacific coast, Seattle is approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of Canada and has an enthralling history. It is famous for Starbucks, Amazon, Boeing, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix and, most of all, the Space Needle. What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city? Some people still think of Seattle as a "best-kept secret" for the US. It appears clean and fresh and visually appears to be surrounded by a lush forest. The mild temperatures in all the seasons make it a balanced place to live, but you'll notice after a while that Seattle gets more rain throughout the year than other cities. For some, that's enjoyable; but for others it can be inhibiting. Are these impressions likely to change? No, the natural resources and the beauty of Seattle cannot be easily altered. Even after years of residing in this city, you'll still see be able to view Seattle as you did on arrival. What is the local language? English is the local language; however, other languages, such as Spanish and Chinese, are spoken in some neighborhoods. Like many larger U.S. cities, Seattle is multicultural and modern, so chances are you'll find many different people and languages here. How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language? We recommend that you learn the basics of English. It will be a big help in your daily activities in this city. Relatively few residents are natives of Seattle, though, so there will be large numbers of immigrants from Asia, Latin America and other regions, so you will be able to get around even without a full grasp of English. What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city? Because Seattle is so progressive and diverse, respect and acceptance of other customs and values must be demonstrated at all times. All expected, socially acceptable behavior should be displayed when in public (such as not staring at other people). Asking too many personal questions when you first meet someone and/or using certain hand gestures (such as displaying your middle finger) is considered offensive. How might the local weather affect my daily life? Seattle's climate is, for a large part of the year, damp and cool with overcast skies. During the winter, there can be rain, ice and snow but, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't rain everyday in Seattle. Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people? The UK consulting firm Mercer, in a 2012 assessment, ranked Seattle 44th worldwide for quality of living. The survey factored in political stability, personal freedom, sanitation, crime, housing, natural environment, recreation, banking facilities, availability of consumer goods, education, and public services, including transportation. Seattle is a beautiful fun city, especially for those who love the water and the outdoors.