Toronto is Canada’s most populous city, the provincial capital of Ontario, and the heart of the Greater Toronto Region, the country’s most populated metropolitan area. Toronto has a population of 2,615,060 people according to the 2011 census, making it the seventh biggest metropolis in North America. According to a 2013 municipal report, the city is currently the fourth most populous in North America, after only Mexico City, New York City, and Los Angeles. Toronto, a global metropolis, is an international center of commerce, finance, arts, and culture, and is often regarded as one of the world’s most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities.
For thousands of years, Aboriginal peoples have lived in what is now known as Toronto. The city’s urban history stretches back to 1787, when British authorities negotiated the Toronto Purchase with the New Credit Mississaugas. They founded York and eventually proclaimed it as the capital of Upper Canada. During the War of 1812, the town was the location of the Battle of York, which was heavily damaged by American soldiers. In 1834, York was renamed and established as the City of Toronto, and in 1867, it became the capital of the province of Ontario. At different points in its history, Toronto’s initial limits were enlarged by merger with neighboring municipalities, the effects of which can be seen in the city’s 140 individually distinct and well defined designated neighbourhoods.
Toronto is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern side of Lake Ontario, on a large sloping plateau crossed by a vast network of rivers, steep ravines, and urban forest. It is the focal point of the Golden Horseshoe, a heavily populated area encircling Lake Ontario’s western shore that is home to 8.7 million people, or about 26% of Canada’s total population. Toronto’s demographics make it one of the world’s most varied cities, with over half of its citizens born in countries other than Canada and over 200 various ethnic origins represented among its residents. The city’s large foreign population reflects its present and historical significance as a major destination for immigrants to Canada. While English is the predominant language of the majority of Torontonians, the city is home to over 160 distinct languages.
Toronto is a significant center for music, theater, film production, and television production, as well as the headquarters of Canada’s main national broadcast networks and media sources. Its many cultural institutions, which include multiple museums and galleries, festivals and public events, entertainment districts, national historic monuments, and sporting activities, are significant draws for the city’s roughly 25 million visitors each year. Toronto is well-known for its skyscrapers and high-rise structures, including the CN Tower, the largest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. The Toronto Stock Exchange, the headquarters of Canada’s five major banks, and the headquarters of many significant Canadian and global firms are all located in the city, which serves as the country’s commercial center. Its economy is diverse, with strengths in technology, design, financial services, life sciences, education, the arts, fashion, business services, environmental innovation, food services, and tourism.