Melbourne is located on east central Florida's Space Coast, about an hour and a half east of Disney World, and an hour south of the Kennedy Space Center. With a population of 76,742 (2006), Melbourne is the hub of southern Brevard County. Most of the city is located on the Florida mainland, however, a small portion is on a barrier island which is separated from the mainland by the Indian River Lagoon. The narrow strip of island separates the Lagoon from the Atlantic Ocean. Two four-lane high-rise bridges connect the barrier island to the mainland.
In a survey by the National Association of Homebuilders, the Melbourne metropolitan area was ranked among the most affordable in the nation for home-buyers. Melbourne and Brevard County were also ranked 7th among medium-sized Southern communities by Money Magazine's “Best Places” survey (1998). The Space Coast is considered the high-tech hub of the Southeast. This is evident in some of Melbourne's major employers: Harris Corporation, Rockwell Collins, Florida Institute of Technology, Liberty Aerospace, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Surveillance and Battle Management Systems, and GE Transportation Systems, to name a few.
There are a number of activities for visitors and residents of Melbourne to enjoy. The Brevard Zoo, for instance, is home to over 480 animals, representing 130 species. The Duran Golf club is ideal for golf lovers, and those seeking a leisurely day at the beach can check out the Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area—an unspoiled, beautiful beach looking out onto an ocean filled with dolphins and turtles. In June and July, turtle walks are held by the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at Melbourne Beach.