SANTA BARBARA is situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States.  The city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.  Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the "American Riviera”.  A land expedition led by Gaspar de Portolà, and accompanied by missionary Padre Junípero Serra, visited in 1769, but did not stay.  The first permanent European residents were Spanish missionaries and soldiers under Felipe de Neve, again accompanied by Serra, who came in 1782 to build the Presidio.  They were sent both to fortify the region against expansion by other powers such as England and Russia, and to convert the natives to Christianity.  Many of the Spaniards brought their families with them, and those formed the nucleus of the small town – at first just a cluster of adobes – that surrounded the Presidio.  In addition to being a popular tourist and resort destination, the city economy includes a large service sector, education, technology, health care, finance, agriculture, manufacturing, and local government.