The Tampa Bay area, part of Florida's West Coast, is known as the Suncoast or the Seashell Coast. It is situated on the Gulf of Mexico and surrounded by the Hillsborough and Tampa bays. Although it is a small city, Tampa Bay has a population of about 380,000, almost equal to that of Miami. It is the busiest and most densely populated area on the western coast of Florida.

There are limitless cultural possibilities in and around Tampa. Just a few miles away are the Ybor City quarter with its restaurants and shops of local Latin American influence and Hyde Park with its old colonial homes and architecture. Tampa's downtown area has also made a concerted effort to assert its own cultural individuality. Attractions include the historic Tampa Theater on Franklin Street and the Tampa Museum of Art on the banks of the Hillsborough River. The Tampa Theater was built during the 1920s when silent movies were popular, and the Tampa Museum of Art offers free public tours of its classical and 20th century American art collections.

The history of Tampa dates back to the 1500's when Hispanic explorer Pánfilo de Narváez came to the area. During the 1820's Tampa was a small settlement located next to Fort Brooke, a US army base. In the 1880's, with the dredging of the Hillsborough River, the development of the railroad, and the acquisition of a major tobacco industry, Tampa became a prosperous port. During the 1920's, the port remained one of the nation's busiest. Today, the city itself is the business and financial hub of Florida's West Coast.

Tampa is part of Florida's Hillsborough County, which is known for having the fastest growing economy in the state. Although a relatively small city, Tampa is the business hub of Florida's West Coast and has accordingly received many awards from well-known national business magazines. It is also a major relocation area for both retirees and businesses. Due to the fact that it is one of the nation's least expensive cities in which to build, commercial and residential construction has been strong.

Tampa Bay creates more jobs than any other area in the state of Florida, which in turn is ranked first in the nation for employment growth. One major employer is Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base, which generates more than US$3.5 billion dollars of revenue annually. The Port of Tampa is another major economic sector and the nation's seventh largest port. It exports phosphate, citrus, seafood, cattle, and yachts, as well as moves over 50 million tons of international cargo every year. Overall, the city of Tampa offers an excellent quality of life with a cost of living which is lower than many major cities in the South, including Atlanta, Orlando, Charlotte, and Charleston.

Life for the assignee
Making the transition to life in the Tampa Bay area - as to anywhere new - is generally not achieved without some slight difficulties. To minimise adjustment, a firm grasp of the English language is absolutely necessary. Almost every aspect of life in Tampa is conducted in English, and unfortunately most Americans do not speak other languages. There is a large Hispanic population located in the Tampa Bay area, and you will find that Spanish is another language that is spoken widely. Foreign nationals will feel comfortable in Tampa as it remains aware and accepting of all multiethnic and international perspectives, cultures, and traditions. There is a lot to enjoy in Tampa, including miles of beaches, downtown attractions, historical museums, art galleries, live music venues, and local restaurants that serve American as well as international cuisine.