Montreal is the most populous city in Quebec and Canada’s second most populated municipality. Originally known as Ville-Marie, or “City of Mary,” it is named after Mount Royal, a three-peaked hill in the city’s centre. The city is located on the Island of Montreal, which was named after the same source as the city, as well as a few considerably smaller surrounding islands, the biggest of which is Île Bizard. It has a four-season continental climate, with warm to hot summers and freezing snowy winters.
The city has a population of 1,649,519 in 2011. The metropolitan area of Montreal had a population of 3,824,221 and a population of 1,886,481 in the urban agglomeration, which includes all municipalities on the Island of Montreal. The population of the Montreal metropolitan region was estimated to be 4.1 million in 2014. French is the city’s official language, and it is spoken at home by 56.9 percent of the city’s inhabitants, followed by English (18.6 percent) and other languages (19.8 percent) (in the 2006 census). In the greater Montreal Census Metropolitan Area, 67.9% of the population speaks French at home, while 16.5 percent speak English. With 56 percent of the population speaking both English and French, Montreal is one of the most multilingual cities in Quebec and Canada. After Paris, Montreal is the world’s second biggest predominantly French-speaking metropolis.
Historically Canada’s commercial capital, it was overtaken in population and economic power by Toronto in the 1970s. It is still a major hub for business, aircraft, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, education, culture, tourism, gaming, cinema, and international affairs. Montreal, the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization, is one of three North American cities home to United Nations institutions (together with Washington, D.C. and New York), and it also boasts the continent’s second-highest number of consulates. Montreal has also been designated as a UNESCO City of Design. According to the International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) preliminary 2009 rankings, Montreal was designated North America’s top host city for international association events in 2009. According to the 2016 edition of QS Best Student Cities, Montreal is the seventh best city in the world to be a university student. The Economist Intelligence Unit placed Montreal 14th out of 140 cities in its 2015 Global Liveability Ranking.
Throughout its history, Montreal has hosted a number of major conferences and events, including the 1967 International and Universal Exposition and the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. It is the only city in Canada to have hosted the Summer Olympics. The Canadian Grand Prix of Formula One, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and the Just for Laughs festival are now held in the city. Montreal was designated a Beta+ world city in 2012.