North Carolina’s landscape is rich and varied, with the Appalachian mountains in the west, the centrally located Piedmont plateau, and the Outer Banks to the east, where narrow sandy islands separate the inland waterways from the Atlantic. The waters along the coast of North Carolina have been referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” and those treacherous seas have swallowed up more than 1,000 ships since the 1500s. The coastal areas of North Carolina attract visitors to 3,375 miles of pristine beaches, abundant wetlands and rolling sand dunes. The Cape Hatteras lighthouse dates back to the 17th century, and nine other such towering beacons dot the North Carolina coast. Kite boarding, scuba diving, windsurfing and hang gliding are popular at North Carolina beaches. Further inland, the capital city of Charlotte has attractions like the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Broadway productions at the Belk Theater and roller coasters at Carowinds amusement park. Durham prides itself on its creative culture with bustling venues like the Durham Performing Arts Center and the Nasher Museum of Art. The eclectic clubs and restaurants of Raleigh offer Sourthern hospitality of the edible kind, with cuisines ranging from Mediterranean to Pan-Asian to Jamaican. North Carolina is home to Research Triangle Park, which is the largest research park in the United States and a leading center for biotechnology, medicine and public health research.