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The 2014 Winter Olympics are officially underway in Sochi Russia! Now, you might have your eye on your favorite athlete or Olympic event, but how much do you know about the place where all the excitement is happening? Here are 6 fun facts you should know about Sochi.

1. There are palm trees.

Sochi is actually quite the beach town destination for Russians in the summertime. Even now it’s about 52 degrees, there are palm trees and beaches but it’s also cold up in the mountains where many of the olympic events will be taking place.

According to the Sochi Project, it’s the “Florida of Russia” and even cheaper. Nothing really happens there in the winter—until now, since the winter games have moved in!

 Photos: 7 athletes to watch at the Winter Olympics

2. So where is it? 

Sochi is located on the Black Sea and is about 995 miles from Moscow, 37 hours by train. From New York, it’s 5,178 miles away and 9 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

3. Sochi is ready to go…

Since it was announced in 2007 that Sochi would be the host town of the 2014 Winter Olympics, they have spent billions of dollars (the latest estimates are around $50 billion—wow!) getting the town all fancied up, which includes over 669,000 jobs created due to Olympic projects and building 200 miles of roads and bridges and 125 miles of railway tracks.

OK! News: 11 weird facts about the 2014 Winter Olympics

4. …For the most part 

While the sports facilities are in tip-top shape, some of the hotel rooms journalists arrived to were less than ready. Not surprising considering they built 40,000 new rooms for the event. Many took to Twitter to complain about the situation while others lucked out. If you aren’t in Russia right now, you can still be entertained by a quick search of the hashtag #SochiProblems.

4. Oh, the Olympics aren’t the only thing happening there. 

This is a super busy year for Sochi and for many years to come. The Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix will happen there starting this year until at least 2020 and Sochi is one of the host towns for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. All hotels should be good to go by then!

Watch: Tara Lipinski shares some of her favorite Olympic memories

Maria Sharapova

Getty

5. Someone who is no stranger to Sochi? 

Tennis player Maria Sharapova. She moved to the Russian town when she was 2 and started playing tennis in a local park.So this town is clearly familiar with top-notch athletes!

6. Russia is reaching for the gold 

This is a big deal for Russia. In case the $50 billion dollar price tag wasn’t an indication, there is a lot riding on the Russian teams to bring home, er, already be home and win the gold, especially for the men’s hockey team. After all, the world is watching! And if the weather is any indication, more people will be shivering while watching outside Sochi than the ones who are actually present for the winter games.

OK! News: The latest on Shaun White’s participation in the Olympics

What Olympic event are you most excited for? Have you heard any other Sochi fun facts? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @OKMagazine

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