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Merced is in the San Joaquin Valley near the foothills of the Sierras. It prides itself on being "The Gateway to Yosemite" -- located only one hour and 45 minutes from Yosemite National Park. It is approximately two hours from San Francisco and the coast. Merced is a semi-rural area with a very rich cultural diversity including a large population of Hmong/Mienh/Thai/Laotian immigrants, Portuguese, Sikhs/Punjabis, and Latino peoples. Merced is a town of about 83,000, drawing from a county population base of about 272,000. It has the advantages of a small-town atmosphere.
There are numerous recreational opportunities including bike paths, a racquet club, an 18-hole golf course, and Lake Yosemite which is available for water sports. We are within two hours of excellent hiking and snow skiing areas in the Mother Lode and Sierrra's. There is an excellent junior college in Merced which provides sports and cultural activities and in 2005, UC Merced, the 10th University of California campus opened. The University has brought new growth and many new cultural activities to the city.