Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver is a city in southwest British Columbia on the west coast of Canada. It lies between the Georgia Strait and the Coast Mountains, about 45 kilometers northwest of the US border. The city is part of the Metro Vancouver regional district, which, with 2,642,825 inhabitants, is the largest metropolitan area in western Canada and the third largest in the country after Toronto and Montreal. The population of the city of Vancouver proper is 662,248. The city is named after the British captain George Vancouver, who explored and surveyed the region at the end of the 18th century. The name Vancouver itself comes from the Dutch "van Coevorden", derived from the town of Coevorden.

The city emerged in the 1860s as a result of immigration during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and grew from a small lumber mill town to a metropolis within a few decades after the opening of the transcontinental railroad in 1887. The economy was initially based on the exploitation of British Columbia's natural resources: forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture. The port of Vancouver gained international importance after the opening of the Panama Canal. Today it is the largest in Canada and exports more goods than any other port in North America.

Over time, Vancouver was transformed into a service center and (particularly after the Expo 86 World's Fair) a tourist destination. The city is also the third most important location for the North American film industry after Los Angeles and New York and is therefore also referred to as "Hollywood North". The financial sector also plays an important role. In a ranking of the most important financial centers worldwide, Vancouver ranks 15th (as of 2018). In the 2018 city ranking by the consulting firm Mercer, Vancouver ranked fifth out of 231 major cities worldwide in terms of quality of life.

Vancouver hosted the XXI from February 12th to 28th, 2010. Olympic Winter Games. Some competitions of the Games took place in Whistler, 125 kilometers from Vancouver. After Montreal in 1976 (Summer Games) and Calgary in 1988, Vancouver was the third Canadian city to host the Olympic Games.



Architecture and cityscape

From a structural point of view, Vancouver is a very young city, which is why modern buildings characterize the cityscape throughout. Some are outstanding in terms of architecture, such as the main building of the Vancouver Public Library, reminiscent of the Colosseum, or the tent-like building Canada Place, the former Canadian Pavilion at the 1986 World's Fair.

Some striking buildings have been preserved from the first decades of the 20th century. These include the neoclassical Vancouver Art Gallery (a former courthouse) and the terracotta-clad Dominion Building. The latter was the tallest building in the British Empire from 1908 to 1910; this role was then occupied by the Beaux-Arts-style Sun Tower with its striking green dome until 1912. A landmark of the city is the Marine Building, built in 1930 in Art Deco style and modeled on New York's Empire State Building. For more than three decades, from 1939 to 1972, the Hotel Vancouver was the tallest building in the city. The Qube was born in 1970.

The Living Shangri-La, completed in January 2009, leads the list of tallest buildings in Vancouver with a height of 201 m (as of 2010). In 1989 the City Council approved "view protection guidelines" which were expanded in 1990. These define several corridors in the city center in which the buildings must not exceed a certain height in order to guarantee the unrestricted view of the North Shore Mountains. The guidelines proved to be a successful urban development, but many found Vancouver's skyline to be flat and visually uninteresting.

In 1997, the city council commissioned a study to determine whether taller buildings could be constructed to accentuate the skyline without disrupting the mountain views. As a result, five locations were identified where buildings may exceed the 137 m limit and two additional locations in the northwest of the central business district where buildings may be up to 122 m tall (31 m higher than the local limit). . Eight years later, five of these seven locations were developed or in the approval phase. The tallest of these new buildings was the Living Shangri-La, surpassing the previous tallest building, the One Wall Centre, by 51 metres.

The numerous parks and gardens in Vancouver cover a total of 1298 hectares, which corresponds to around eleven percent of the city's area. The largest is the 404 hectare Stanley Park with the Vancouver Aquarium. Also of note is Queen Elizabeth Park. In Chinatown is the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. Vancouver has two botanical gardens, the VanDusen Botanical Garden in the Shaughnessy Borough and the UBC Botanical Garden (including the Nitobe Memorial Garden) on the University of British Columbia campus.


Arts and Culture

Museums and galleries

Vancouver has several museums and galleries. Housed in a former courthouse, the Vancouver Art Gallery is the largest art museum in western Canada with around 8,000 works of art (including 200 important works by Emily Carr and illustrations by Marc Chagall). The Vancouver Maritime Museum, a maritime museum, exhibits, among other things, the schooner St. Roch, the first ship ever to complete the Northwest Passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The Museum of Anthropology, on the campus of the University of British Columbia, is one of the Pacific Northwest's premier museums of First Nations culture, while the Museum of Vancouver is the nation's largest municipal museum. Science World explores the world of science in a fun way, while the Vancouver Police Centennial Museum introduces visitors to the history of the Vancouver police force.


Sculptures and a steam clock

A sculpture park with 14 bronze sculptures entitled A-maze-ing Laughter was created by the Chinese artist Yue Minjun and exhibited as part of the "Vancouver International Biennale" (2009-2011). The Laughing Men sculptures - each about 8 feet tall - are located near Morton Park.

The Trans Am Totem installation is located at the intersection of Quebec Street and Milross Avenue.

In 1986, the Greater Vancouver cultural community formed an alliance to promote and develop cultural diversity in the region. The alliance now serves as a mouthpiece for around 320 groups and artists. Its goal is to create greater acceptance of art in the city and to clarify the contribution of art to social life.

A special feature of Gastown is the steam clock, a steam-powered public clock that whistles every 15 minutes.


Theater and music

Major theaters in Vancouver include the Arts Club Theater Company, Vancouver Playhouse Theater Company, Touchstone Theatre, Studio 58, Carousel Theater and United Players of Vancouver. Outdoor performances are hosted by Bard on the Beach and Theater Under the Stars during the summer. In addition, the Fringe Festival and the International Film Festival take place every year.

Vancouver has played an important role in the development of Canadian music, particularly in the classical, folk and pop genres. The city was a leader in the development of punk with bands such as D.O.A. and No Means No, but also in the post-industrial sector, with Skinny Puppy, Delerium and Front Line Assembly being particularly noteworthy. More mainstream are Bryan Adams, Nickelback, Diana Krall, Sarah McLachlan, Michael Bublé and Loverboy. The most well-known hip-hop formation is the Swollen Members.

Bigger rock and pop concerts take place at Rogers Arena, BC Place Stadium and the Pacific Coliseum, while lesser-known artists perform at the Plaza of Nations, the Commodore Ballroom, the Orpheum Theater or the Vogue Theatre. Two major music festivals are held in Vancouver each year, the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Vancouver also has two professional orchestras, the CBC Radio Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Vancouver Opera performs at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.


Regular events and leisure opportunities

One of the most well-known events is the Celebration of Light, a musical fireworks competition on the beaches of English Bay, which is watched by over 1.5 million spectators in late July and early August. The city's ethnic minorities also contribute to the cultural scene, particularly the Chinese. They celebrate the Chinese New Year with a big parade and hold an international dragon boat race on False Creek in June.

Vancouver has an influential lesbian and gay movement. In July 2003, British Columbia became the second Canadian province to recognize same-sex marriage as a constitutional right, a few weeks after Ontario. The gay and lesbian scene is concentrated around Davie Street in the city center; this area is also known as Davie Village. One of the largest gay pride parades in the country takes place in Vancouver every year.

Nightlife in Vancouver has historically been more limited than in other cities. Reasons for this were the early night rest for bars and nightclubs and the reluctance of the city authorities to encourage further development. This changed in 2003 when opening hours were extended and regulations relaxed. The city made efforts to establish the Downtown area (particularly the area around Granville Street) as an entertainment center.


Sports and recreation

The most popular sport among the residents is ice hockey; there are two professional teams, the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL and the Vancouver Giants in the junior league WHL. The dominant team at the beginning of the 20th century was the Vancouver Millionaires, who won the 1915 Stanley Cup. From 1973 to 1975 there was another professional team, the Vancouver Blazers, which belonged to the World Hockey Association.

Canadian football, the Canadian variant of American football, is practiced by the professional team British Columbia Lions in the CFL. The Vancouver Canadians play in the Northwest League, one of the leagues in minor league baseball. The Vancouver Whitecaps have a men's and women's professional soccer team represented in Major League Soccer and the W-League, respectively. Professional basketball failed to catch on, and the NBA team Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis (Tennessee) in 2001.

The most popular team sports at amateur level are Gaelic football and indoor lacrosse. Vancouver has been the venue for the Slam City Jam, the North American skateboard championship, since 1994. The Vancouver Marathon takes place in May and the 10-kilometer Vancouver Sun Run in April. From 1990 to 2004, Champ Car races were held on a street circuit.

Sports for all are common among Vancouverites, with joggers in the parks and waterfront, canoeists on False Creek and boaters on English Bay. There is also a well-developed network of cycle paths, beach volleyball courts, kayak rental stations, swimming pools and artificial ice rinks.

There are numerous beaches along the coast. These extend on the one hand on the western edge of downtown from Stanley Park to False Creek, on the other hand along the entire south coast of English Bay. The total of 18 kilometers of beaches include First Beach, Jericho Beach, Kitsilano Beach, Locarno Beach, Second Beach, Spanish Bank, Sunset Beach and Third Beach.

The nearby North Shore Mountains are home to three ski resorts, Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Mount Seymour. These can be reached within half an hour from the city center, the winter season usually lasts from early December to late April. Whistler, with more winter sports facilities, is about a two-hour drive away. An extensive network of hiking trails and mountain bike routes runs through the mountains, the latter known as the North Shore Trails. Canoeing and rafting are practiced on the Capilano River, Lynn Creek and Seymour River. The North Shore Mountains also offer numerous opportunities for sport climbing.

The 1954 Commonwealth Games were held in Vancouver. The city hosted the 2009 World Police and Fire Games and the 2010 Winter Olympics.



Location and neighboring towns

Vancouver is located on the Strait of Georgia, an estuary shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. The 114.67 km² large urban area extends on the Burrard Peninsula, between the approximately 25 km long Burrard Inlet in the north and the Fraser River in the south. On the west side of the peninsula is English Bay. On its north coast, the Burrard Peninsula is divided again by another arm of the sea, the False Creek, which is around two kilometers long. This smaller peninsula is home to Downtown and Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. Towering on the west side of the park is Siwash Rock, a prominent volcanic rock. The metropolitan area of Vancouver includes flat and hilly terrain, the highest point is 167 m above sea level. NN, on Little Mountain in Queen Elizabeth Park.

The city is known for its scenic location. Towering mountains characterize the cityscape; these belong to the North Shore Mountains, the southernmost range of the Coast Mountains. The three local mountains Grouse Mountain (1231 m), Mount Seymour (1449 m) and Mount Strachan (1454 m) are on the north shore of Burrard Inlet directly opposite the city. On a clear day, the Mount Baker volcano, located in Washington state, can be seen to the southeast. The mountains on the Sunshine Coast to the northwest and Vancouver Island to the west and southwest complete the scenery.

Vancouver's neighboring communities are West Vancouver to the northwest, North Vancouver to the north, North Vancouver District to the northeast, Burnaby to the east and Richmond to the south. The University Endowment Lands to the West is an unincorporated area and forms part of Greater Vancouver Electoral Area A.

The original vegetation of Vancouver and its suburbs was temperate rainforest, composed of conifers and scattered maples and alders, interspersed with swamps (due to poor drainage even at higher elevations). The conifers were a coastal British Columbia hybrid of Sitka spruce, cedar cedar, western hemlock, Douglas fir, and Pacific yew. Only at Elliott Bay in Seattle the mightiest trees of these species are said to have been larger than at Burrard Inlet and English Bay. The tallest trees in Vancouver's primary forest were in the Gastown area, where forestry activity first took place, and on the south shores of False Creek and English Bay (particularly at Jericho Beach). Most of the tree population in Stanley Park is secondary forest, but there are also some protected and marked trees that were processed by Native Americans in pre-European times (Culturally Modified Trees).

Numerous species of plants and trees that grow in Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland were imported here from other parts of North America and other continents. Various types of palm trees are common, but also a large number of other exotic trees such as araucaria and Japanese maple as well as magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Numerous rhododendrons have grown to enormous sizes, as have other species native to the colder climates of eastern Canada and Europe. Japanese cherry trees donated by Japan have lined many of the city's streets since the 1930s.



Compared to the Canadian average, Vancouver's climate is unusually mild due to the influence of the Kuroshio Current. Winters are the fourth warmest in Environment Canada tracked cities, after Victoria, Nanaimo and Duncan (all located on nearby Vancouver Island). The proximity to the sea creates a microclimate, winter temperatures are usually 2 to 4 °C warmer and summer temperatures 3 to 8 °C colder than inland. On an average of 46 days a year, the daily low temperature falls below the freezing point, on only two days below −10 °C. The average daily highs in July and August are around 22 °C, but can occasionally rise to more than 26 °C.

Vancouver is considered a rainy city, with an average of 166 days of rain per year. Rain can often fall for up to 20 straight days between November and March when the subtropical wind current known as the Pineapple Express brings warm and humid air from Hawaii. As a rule of thumb, around 100 mm more precipitation can be expected for every 100 meters of altitude. Snow falls far more frequently in the higher eastern and northern suburbs than in the city and at sea level. Although the annual amount of snow is just under half a meter, even light snowfall can lead to the closure of schools and shops and to large-scale traffic problems. This has to do with the fact that the snow is very wet due to the proximity to the coast and icy roads form due to the repeated rise and fall of the temperature above and below freezing.

There are up to six thunderstorms a year. These usually occur in late autumn and winter and are sometimes accompanied by hail. The low number is because the estuary rarely warms up enough to create ideal conditions for thunderstorms.



Pre-European settlement

Archaeological finds indicate that the First Nations presence in the Vancouver area dates back approximately 4,500 to 9,000 years. At the time of the first encounter with Europeans, there were numerous settlements of the Musqueam, Squamish, Stó:lō, Tsawwassen and Tsleil'wau-tuth, who count among the Coastal Salish, along the lower Fraser River and the adjacent Pacific coast. Located between Vancouver Island and Washington State, these tribes are closely linked through language and culture, but also through kinship and trade.

Although food procurement was based on gathering and hunting, they possessed a comparatively highly developed culture with strong social differentiation. Thus - similar to contemporary Europe - there was a tripartite division of society into a dominant "nobility", simple tribesmen and slaves. Their economic system rewarded hard work, the accumulation of wealth, and the social redistribution of that wealth, particularly through the ruling families, whose heads Europeans called chiefs. The winter quarters in the Vancouver area consisted of large longhouses built from the wood of the giant cedar. The potlatch ceremonies were an important part of the social and spiritual life of these tribes.


European discovery and settlement

Spanish captain José María Narváez, in 1791, was the first European to sail the coasts in the area of present-day Vancouver. A year later, British Captain George Vancouver explored the Georgia Straits, Burrard Inlet and Puget Sound. The first European to reach the area by land was Simon Fraser, a fur trader for the North West Company, who in 1808 and his companions explored the full length of the Fraser River, which bears his name.

As a result of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush (1858–1860), and particularly the Cariboo Gold Rush (1861–1862), some 25,000 men, many from California, moved to the Fraser River drainage basin. The first permanent European settlement, McCleery Farm, was established in 1862 on the riverbank, east of the Musqueam winter camps in what is now Marpole. In 1863 the first sawmill went into operation in Moodyville (now North Vancouver) and established the traditional forestry industry. Other sawmills soon sprang up on the south bank of Burrard Inlet, then owned by Captain Edward Stamp. Stamp, who had been a lumberjack around Port Alberni, first set up a sawmill at Brockton Point, at the east end of Stanley Park. But treacherous currents and reefs forced him to relocate operations in 1865. Stamp's Mill was built near what is now Gore Street.

The various sawmills in the area were important manufacturers of wood products for shipping. Many of the masts of the Royal Navy's numerous windjammers and ever-growing ships were made of timber from the Vancouver area. Among the numerous orders was one from the Chinese Emperor, who ordered dozens of huge beams for the Gate of Heavenly Peace in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Gastown grew up next to Stamp's Mill. It was named after John Deighton, nicknamed Gassy Jack, who opened a pub there in 1867. In 1870 the colonial government of British Columbia surveyed the settlement and officially named it Granville on March 1 in honor of Lord Granville, Minister for the Colonies. However, this designation never caught on and the district is still called Gastown today.

The settlement was located at a natural harbor and was therefore designated in 1885 by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) as the western terminus of the transcontinental railway line, in place of Port Moody, 20 km to the east. The construction of the line was one of the preconditions for British Columbia's entry into the Canadian Confederation in 1871. CPR President William Cornelius Van Horne advocated changing the name of the place to Vancouver because he said people in the east of the country knew where Vancouver Island was while Gastown or even Granville was completely unknown.


After the founding of the city

On April 6, 1886, the city was officially founded with the new name Vancouver. On June 13 of the same year, a fire that got out of control due to a violent gust of wind almost completely destroyed the young town. Within 45 minutes more than 1000 wooden houses were consumed by the flames, but reconstruction work began the following day. The first train pulled into Waterfront Station on May 23, 1887, on the banks of Burrard Inlet. Thanks to the economic boom brought about by the railroad, Vancouver recovered quickly, growing from 5,000 in 1887 to 15,000 in 1892 and 100,000 in 1900.

In the early decades, large corporations dominated economic activity because they had the capital to drive the city's quantitative and qualitative growth. Some industries developed, but the backbone of the city's economy was the exploitation of natural resources. Forestry dominated first, and later export traffic via the port of Vancouver. The port particularly benefited from the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, which created a more direct export route to Europe. During World War I, about a third of the False Creek inlet was filled in to make room for other railway facilities, most notably the Canadian Northern Railway's (later Canadian National Railway) Pacific Central Station.

Corporate dominance often led to violent labor movements. The first major strike took place in 1903 when CPR railroad workers demonstrated for recognition of their union. In 1918 Vancouver was the starting point of the first Canadian general strike. Other social movements such as feminists, moral reformers, and teetotalers also exerted influence on city politics. In 1906 the city council tried in vain to close the brothels on Dupont Street. During World War I and until 1921, an alcohol prohibition law was in effect.

During the 1920s, Vancouver was repeatedly rocked by racial riots, particularly against the Chinese and Japanese; various newspapers warned of an "oriental threat".

On January 1, 1929, the City of Vancouver's area was expanded to its current extent with the incorporation of Point Gray and South Vancouver. Since then it has encompassed almost the entire western part of the peninsula between the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River. The population on that day was 228,193, making Vancouver the third largest city in the country. The economic boom of the 1920s ended abruptly with the global economic crisis. Neighboring communities of North Vancouver and Burnaby went bankrupt, while Vancouver narrowly averted it. Thousands of young people traveled across Canada to Vancouver hoping to find work. The communists, who organized mass strikes several times, were very popular in the slums. Many members of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, which fought in the Spanish Civil War, were from Vancouver.

The outbreak of World War II helped the region experience rapid economic growth. The shipyards produced corvettes and minesweepers for the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Boeing plant in neighboring Richmond produced parts for B-29 bombers. In 1942, a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government viewed Japanese Canadians as a national security threat, much like the Germans in World War I. The Canadians of Japanese origin were dispossessed, rounded up in Hastings Park and then interned in camps inland. It was not until 1988 that the government officially apologized and paid compensation.


Since 1950

In December 1953, CBUT, the first television station in western Canada, began broadcasting. Several new bridges created better transport connections. The Second Narrows Bridge (1925) and the Lions Gate Bridge (1938) on the north bank of Burrard Inlet had already been built before the war. In 1957 the Oak Street Bridge followed over the Fraser River to Richmond and in 1960 the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing over Burrard Inlet.

Two new universities were founded in the suburb of Burnaby, both of which now have branches in Vancouver and complement the University of British Columbia, founded in 1908: the British Columbia Institute of Technology was the first in 1960, followed in 1965 by Simon Fraser University. Residents of the Chinese-influenced Strathcona neighborhood formed a protest movement in the late 1960s and prevented the neighborhood from being demolished to make way for a planned highway. The protests led to a rethinking of traffic policy and in 1980 to the ban on further motorways in the city area. Greenpeace was founded in Vancouver in 1971 and is now one of the world's most important environmental protection organizations. The continued growth of Vancouver International Airport on Sea Island necessitated the construction of another bridge over the Fraser River, the Arthur Laing Bridge was dedicated in 1976.

After Vancouver was awarded the contract to host the 1986 World's Fair, a construction boom began in the city that, with a few brief interruptions, has continued to this day. In 1983, BC Place Stadium opened, Canada's first indoor stadium. In January 1986, the first line of the SkyTrain followed, an elevated railway that connects Vancouver with the suburbs. Other striking buildings that were built with Expo 86 in mind and have shaped the cityscape ever since are Science World, Canada Place and the Plaza of Nations.

The world exhibition, which lasted from May to October 1986 and was the last in North America, proved to be a great success with over 20 million visitors. The exhibition site on the north bank of False Creek had previously been an extensive brownfield site and was sold to Hong Kong entrepreneur Li Ka-shing after the exhibition closed. He implemented one of the largest urban development projects in North America, and within a few years False Creek was transformed into a high-density and attractively located residential area on the edge of downtown. As early as the 1970s, the Granville Island peninsula in False Creek had been converted from an industrial zone into a popular shopping and cultural district. This sustainable urban planning increased the quality of life in the region.

In 1998, Canada's National Olympic Committee decided to bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. In the intra-Canadian eliminations, Vancouver received the most votes ahead of Québec and Calgary. On February 22, 2002, in a (legally non-binding) municipal referendum, 63.9% of the participating voters approved the candidacy. Vancouver was awarded the contract on July 2, 2003 at the 115th IOC session in Prague, beating Pyeongchang and Salzburg.

Since then, the city has been using the traffic infrastructure, which was improved for the Olympic Games, for targeted urban development at junctions. The Canada Line stations, which connect Vancouver's waterfront to Richmond and the airport, will become centers of high-density development and local amenities in the city and in Richmond. Although the Organizing Committee for the Games was able to present a balanced balance sheet, this did not include the costs for the construction of the new infrastructure for the Olympic Games, which have since weighed heavily on the budget of the City of Vancouver. The province's debt also increased by CA$24 billion over a ten-year period as a result of the Games.

The immigration policy of the USA, which has prevented American companies from recruiting employees since Donald Trump was elected President, means that many of them are switching to Canada and especially to Vancouver. Microsoft founded its Microsoft Canada Excellence Center (MCEC) in Vancouver with 750 employees. 50,000 new technology jobs are expected to be created there by 2020. Vancouver is now Canada's leading city for start-ups. However, this leads to rapidly increasing real estate prices and rents. Amazon has been acquiring and constructing properties since 2015 to house at least 5,000 employees.



Multicultural society

People of many ethnic groups and religions live in the city, which has created a multicultural society here. 47.1 percent of the population belong to what Statistics Canada calls a "visible minority group" (i.e. all non-whites or non-Caucasians with the exception of First Nations, Inuit and Métis). Vancouver has the highest interracial marriage rate in Canada at 7.2 percent (the national average is 3.2 percent).

From the early years of European settlement in the second half of the 19th century, people from the British Isles formed the largest immigrant group and are still the largest ethnic group in Vancouver. Up until the 1960s, the city was distinctly British, with most British immigrants moving directly here without having previously lived in the eastern Canadian provinces. The British influence on cultural life is particularly noticeable in the districts of South Granville and Kerrisdale. Before the 1980s, people of German descent formed the second largest group, followed by those from Ukraine and Scandinavia. Most European immigrants or their descendants have now been fully assimilated.

With a share of almost 30 percent, the Chinese are by far the largest non-European population group. They came to British Columbia in two major immigration waves, in the second half of the 19th century during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and during the construction of the transcontinental railroad line, and in the 1980s and 1990s before Hong Kong's handover to the People's Republic of China. Of the Chinese languages spoken in Vancouver, Cantonese is the most widely spoken. Other significant ethnic groups from Asia include Indians (primarily from the Punjab, commonly referred to as Indo-Canadians), Vietnamese, Filipinos, Koreans, Khmers and Japanese.

Vancouver is the second most popular immigrant destination in Canada, behind Toronto and ahead of Montreal. There are several neighborhoods that are strongly influenced by a specific ethnic group. In addition to the second largest Chinatown in North America (after San Francisco), Vancouver also has areas where Indian (“Punjabi Market”), Italian (“Little Italy”), Japanese (“Japantown”), Korean (“Koreatown”) or Greek ("Greektown") influences are noticeable.


First Nations and non-visible minorities

The ten First Nations in Greater Vancouver are special in a number of ways. Thus, the traditional areas of the Indians demarcate jurisdictions in which the state has an obligation to timely consultations on all matters affecting that area. As a result, government buildings may not be sold without consultation with the First Nation concerned. In addition, the Musqueam, for example, whose traditional area is largely occupied by the university, have leased land there and maintain a special relationship with the university itself. In addition, the First Nations are not considered a "visible minority".

In 2001, there were 22,700 Native Americans in Vancouver County, of whom 17,475 were registered status Indians and 5,225 non-status Indians; 10,445 lived in Vancouver itself. In 2006 there were already 23,515 Indians living in the city. The 22 reservations in the greater Vancouver area cover only 17.22 km² or 0.6 percent of the total area. Also living in the city in 2001 were 12,505 Métis, their number increasing to 15,075 by 2006, and 260 Inuit, whose number decreased to 210. There were also 1,395 people of mixed affiliation or other indigenous peoples. This means that 21.7 percent of the indigenous people of British Columbia lived in Greater Vancouver, in 2006 there were exactly 40,310.



There is no dominant religion or denomination in Vancouver. According to the 2001 census, Roman Catholics make up the largest proportion of the population at 19.0 percent. On the one hand, this is due to immigration from Catholic countries such as Italy and, on the other hand, to the fact that the first missionaries among the First Nations were Catholic religious, especially Oblates. 17.4 percent belong to various Protestant denominations, with the Anglican community, which emerged in Great Britain, dominating due to the British origin of many residents. 1.7 percent described themselves as orthodox Christians, which is mainly due to Ukrainian and Greek immigration, 4.4 percent stated that they belonged to an unspecified Christian denomination. The followers of various directions of Buddhism are mainly of Chinese origin with a share of 6.9 percent. Adherents of Sikhism and Hinduism come predominantly from the Indian subcontinent with 2.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. 1.8 percent of the population profess Judaism, Islam 1.7 percent and other religions 0.8 percent.

42.2 percent indicated no religious affiliation. The city, like the rest of British Columbia, has a low percentage of regular churchgoers compared to the rest of North America. While this was 67 percent in 1946, it fell steadily over the following decades and was only 20 percent in 2001.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver replaced the older Diocese of New Westminster in 1908. It includes the southwestern part of the province of British Columbia excluding Vancouver Island. Bishop's seat is the Holy Rosary Cathedral built in 1899/1900. United with the Roman Catholic Church is the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, with Vancouver belonging to the Eparchy of New Westminster, which forms part of the Archeparchy of Winnipeg. The Anglican Diocese of New Westminster moved its seat to Vancouver in 1929, to Christ Church Cathedral, built in 1894/95. The diocese forms part of the ecclesiastical province of British Columbia and the Yukon. The Holy Trinity Cathedral belongs to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada; it is one of two cathedrals of the Diocese of Edmonton and Western Canada affiliated with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The most widespread branch of Buddhism that came to the region with the Asian immigrants is Amitabha Buddhism, which is dominant in East Asia. The most important temple in the metropolitan region is the International Buddhist Temple in neighboring Richmond.

Vancouver's Jewish community, which can also be traced back to before the actual founding of the city, is now the third largest in Canada. Conservative Judaism has the most members, followed by Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims from what was then British India also moved here. The former British colonial empire has shaped its former colony of Canada to this day.


Visible social problems

The economic boom and the housing needs of wealthy immigrants have led to sharply rising rents. As a result, around 100,000 people in the Vancouver metropolitan area are threatened with homelessness, and around 2,200 live on the streets in Vancouver. In addition, there is an increasing number of drug addicts, prostitution and crime.

At the same time, the street level social problems, i.e. the problems that become apparent on the street, are increasing. For several years now, they have not only affected well-known districts such as downtown Vancouver, but also Metrotown in Burnaby and the Whalley/Centre City area in Surrey. Yet in 2005, 63 percent of the homeless population was concentrated in Vancouver itself, while 21 percent are in the sub-region south of the Fraser River. Homelessness, but above all drug addiction, prostitution and (procurement) crime are closely linked. The desolate living situation of several hundred residents is easy to see, especially in the vicinity of East Hastings Street (also known as Downtown Eastside, DTES for short) between downtown and Chinatown.


Life quality

According to numerous statistics and surveys, Canada in general and Vancouver in particular achieve top rankings in terms of quality of life. Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the top three cities in the world to live in. This means that the metropolis has been the most livable city in Canada for many years. The unusually mild climate is considered by many to be one of the main reasons why Vancouver is ahead of other Canadian cities (such as Toronto, Calgary and Montreal) that are also well-ranked. In a 2018 Mercer ranking of cities with the highest quality of life in the world, Vancouver ranked fifth.

In addition to surveys, such surveys also include statistics on, for example, unemployment rates, crime or the like.


Politics and law

The Vancouver Charter, enacted in 1953, gives the city more powers than other municipalities subject to the BC Municipalites Act of British Columbia. The city is governed by a City Council (Vancouver City Council), which is composed of ten MPs plus the mayor. There is also a school council with nine members and a park council with seven members. Councils are elected every three years by proportional representation, with the entire city forming a single constituency. The introduction of the majority voting with single constituencies, which is otherwise customary in Canada, was rejected in a referendum on October 17, 2004.

In Canada, the parties are strictly separated at the federal and provincial level (members of one party level do not necessarily belong to the other). In Vancouver, this system continues at the local level. The centre-right Non-Partisan Association (NPA) has dominated city politics since the 1940s and has held the mayor with few interruptions ever since. Opposite her is the centre-left Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE). Central to the political spectrum, Vision Vancouver split from COPE in 2005. In the most recent election, on November 15, 2008, Vision Vancouver won eight seats, including newly elected mayor Gregor Robertson (his predecessor, NPA's Sam Sullivan, lost in the party's internal elimination). COPE won two seats, the previously governing NPA one seat.

Traditionally, the more affluent residents of the western parts of the city tend to vote conservatively and liberally, while those in the eastern parts of the city tend to vote left. Consensus has emerged across the political spectrum on some issues: the city's parks will be protected from development, the development of public transport has priority over the construction of city freeways, drug users will not be prosecuted.

In April 2019, the city declared a "Climate Emergency" due to global climate change and announced an action program to reduce CO2 in its sphere of influence.


Representation at provincial and federal level

Vancouver is represented in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly by ten MPs elected in as many constituencies. In the last election on May 17, 2005, the British Columbia Liberal Party and the British Columbia New Democratic Party each won five seats.

Five MPs represent Vancouver in the Canadian House of Commons. In the October 14, 2008 election, the Liberal Party won three seats and the New Democratic Party two seats. The ruling Conservative Party has no representative from Vancouver.



While most of the Lower Mainland region is managed by Division E of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Vancouver has its own police force, the Vancouver Police Department. According to the 2016 Annual Report, the Vancouver Police Department has a staff strength of 1,716 (1,327 police officers and 389 civilian employees) and has a budget of approximately C$265 million to carry out its duties. In 2006, the city's police force established its own anti-terrorist unit, leading to speculation about potential tensions with the RCMP, given the latter's sole responsibility for national security matters. The Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service, formed in December 2005, provides safety on public transportation. In 2005, Greater Vancouver had the fourth highest crime rate among Canada's metropolitan areas. Property crime rates are particularly high, and one of the highest in North America, but declined 10.5 percent between 2004 and 2005. Car theft accounts for the majority of property crimes.


Badges and flags

Coat of Arms Statement: Vancouver's coat of arms has existed in its current form since 1969 and was awarded by the College of Arms. The coat of arms shows - framed by shield holders, helmet, helmet jewel and motto - four blue and white wavy bars, above each in the corners a dogwood blossom with white petals, green petals and orange carpel. The shield is divided by a tapering Indian totem pole.


Economy and Infrastructure


Commerce makes up the bulk of Vancouver's economy. The Port of Vancouver is Canada's largest and the second largest on the west coast of North America (it is the continent's largest in terms of exports). Goods worth CAD 43 billion are traded with more than 90 countries every year. The port creates around 69,200 jobs and generates four billion CAD gross domestic product.

Another mainstay of Vancouver's economy is forestry. Global corporations such as Canfor and West Fraser Timber (the second and third largest timber producers in the world) have their headquarters here. Vancouver is also the headquarters of numerous mining companies such as Teck Resources and Goldcorp. Vancouver's stock exchange, the Vancouver Stock Exchange (now part of the Toronto Stock Exchange), is the world's premier venture capital market for small to mid-sized mining companies. Vancouver has numerous branches of national and international banks and service companies (e.g. HSBC, RBC, BMO, CIBC).

Vancouver is the third most important location for the North American film and television industry after Los Angeles and New York City. Around ten percent of all Hollywood films are shot in and around Vancouver, which is why the city is often referred to as "Hollywood North". The Vancouver Film Studios are among the most important film and television studios in the world, other companies in the film and television industry have their headquarters in various suburbs. Reasons for switching to Vancouver are the favorable exchange rate of the Canadian dollar, the same time zone as Los Angeles and the scenic and architectural diversity in Greater Vancouver, which makes it possible to recreate scenes from (almost) all over the world. The film industry also benefits from tax breaks from the Canadian government.

Numerous universities and the high quality of life led to the settlement of several cutting-edge technology and software companies. A particularly large cluster of computer game developers has formed in the region, the largest being Electronic Arts and Relic Entertainment. In addition, Vancouver is developing into the center of research into fuel cells. The world's leading manufacturer, Ballard Power Systems, has its headquarters in the neighboring city of Burnaby, while the National Research Council of Canada's institute for fuel cell research is located in Vancouver.

Especially since the World Exhibition Expo 86, the importance of tourism has increased significantly. In addition to numerous sights, parks and beaches in Vancouver itself, it is above all the diverse nature in the area and the associated leisure activities that attract many tourists. 126 km north, the Whistler-Blackcomb resort is one of the most popular ski areas in North America. Plenty of summer and winter sports are also available in the nearby North Shore Mountains. Cruise ships operate regularly from Vancouver, usually bound for Alaska. With almost 3.9 million foreign visitors, Vancouver was the 34th most visited city in the world in 2016. Tourists brought in $2.1 billion in revenue that same year. Most foreign visitors came from the USA and Asia.



Inner-city railways
Since 1998, TransLink has served almost all transportation in Metro Vancouver and parts of the adjacent Fraser Valley Regional District, except for intercity rail, ferry and taxi services. TransLink operates local public transport in this area and partially or fully finances and maintains roads and bridges (excluding motorways).

The backbone of local public transport in Vancouver and the surrounding area is the fully automatic SkyTrain, which is mostly designed as an elevated railway. The Expo Line and Millennium Line go to Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey. Since August 17, 2009, the Canada Line has connected downtown with Richmond and the airport. The companies Coast Mountain Bus Company and West Vancouver Blue Bus operate a dense bus network on behalf of TransLink. 13 routes are also served by the Vancouver trolleybus. In 1948, this replaced the British Columbia Electric Railway's streetcars and interurbans that existed from 1890 to 1958. In 2008 there were studies at the city council to reintroduce the tram; the first line will run from Granville Island along False Creek via the Waterfront Station to Stanley Park. In 2019, this study was updated under the aspect of a potential long-term realization. The Vancouver Downtown Historic Railway, a heritage tram, runs along the south bank of False Creek on summer weekends. Historical omnibuses are also used in downtown Gastown as a tourist attraction.

Vancouver International Airport is located in the neighboring city of Richmond on Sea Island, an island in the Fraser River estuary. Vancouver's airport is the second busiest in Canada and the second busiest on the west coast of North America with international flights. Other major airports in the area include Abbotsford International Airport in Abbotsford and Boundary Bay Airport in Delta. Downtown also has docks for seaplanes, particularly Harbor Air, which flies north to Vancouver Island, as well as sightseeing flights over the surrounding area. There is also a helipad just east of Canada Place; Scheduled flights are also offered from here.

The Airwest Airlines crash in Vancouver Harbor in 1978 claimed 11 lives.

road network
Due to spatial planning measures and the geographical location, there are no freeways in Vancouver with one exception. The only one is the Trans-Canada Highway in the far east of the city. All others narrow before the city limits to main streets. In general, the street network of the metropolis is structured according to a grid pattern. A 170 km long cycle path network runs through the city. Most cycle paths lead along traffic-calmed side streets, in the more densely populated city center cycle lanes predominate.

There is no direct ferry service between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. BC Ferries operate ferries from Horseshoe Bay west of West Vancouver to Nanaimo and Bowen Island, and from Tsawwassen in Delta Township to Swartz Bay near Victoria and the Gulf Islands. The SeaBus ferry connects downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver.

The port makes the city the main terminus for Canada's two transcontinental freight trains, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway. The American BNSF Railway (formerly Great Northern Railway) also has a route to Vancouver. The Canadian Pacific reached the city in 1887, the Great Northern in 1891, and the Canadian Northern (predecessor to the Canadian National) in 1915. The railroads offer direct freight trains to Chicago, the railroad hub of North America, and to New York/New Jersey. The necessary shunting systems of the companies are all outside the city area. The route network of the British Columbia Railway, which has belonged to the CN since 2004, ends in North Vancouver.

long-distance rail transport
InterCity trains to other Canadian cities are operated by VIA Rail under the name The Canadian and depart from Pacific Central Station. Amtrak Cascades offers service to Seattle. Great Canadian Railtour excursion trains operate under the Rocky Mountaineer name to Calgary, Jasper and Whistler. The West Coast Express is a commuter train that runs from Waterfront Station to Mission.

Greyhound Canada intercity buses operated from Pacific Central Station until late 2018, but operations have been suspended.




The city of Vancouver forms School District 39, the second largest in British Columbia with around 57,000 students and 119 schools. As in other parts of the province, there are a variety of private schools that qualify for partial government funding—including religious, secular, and special education schools, most of which require additional tuition. In addition, there are three schools that offer French language courses. These are subordinate to the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique, which is responsible for francophone pupils throughout the province.


Colleges and universities

There are two major public universities in the Vancouver area. Founded in 1908, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is located just west of the city on the western tip of the Burrard Peninsula. Founded in 1965, Simon Fraser University (SFU) is headquartered in Burnaby. UBC and SFU have off-campus teaching facilities in Vancouver. The British Columbia Institute of Technology at Burnaby is a technical university with campuses in Vancouver, Richmond and North Vancouver. In September 2007, a campus of the private Fairleigh Dickinson University was opened in Vancouver.

Important art colleges are the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the Vancouver Film School and the Studio 58. Two technical colleges (called colleges in Canada) also offer higher education courses in Vancouver, these are the Vancouver Community College and the Langara College.

The Collège Éducacentre offers adult education in French.



Two regional daily newspapers, The Vancouver Sun and The Province, are published in Vancouver. Both are published by the Pacific Newspaper Group, a subsidiary of CanWest Global Communications. Two national dailies, The Globe and Mail and National Post are also distributed. The three daily newspapers Ming Pao, Sing Tao Daily and World Journal are aimed at the Chinese-speaking part of the population. 24 Hours and Metro are free commuter newspapers. The weekly newspaper The Georgia Straight is also free. The local newspaper Vancouver Courier appears twice a week.

In British Columbia, too, the nationally active television stations are represented with regional branches. In the case of the public broadcasters Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Télévision de Radio-Canada, these are the channels CBUT and CBUFT, while the commercial providers Citytv, CH, Global and CTV are represented by Citytv Vancouver, CHEK-TV, Global BC and CTV British Columbia . The station Global BC has the highest market shares in the news sector. Channel m caters to the large number of immigrants and broadcasts in five Asian languages.

The three main radio stations are CBC Radio One, CKNW and News1130. There are also a large number of sports or news channels, mainly on AM, as well as numerous music channels, most of which can be received on FM.



Vancouver is the birthplace and place of work of numerous prominent personalities. Due to the great importance of the city for the North American film industry, many actors are represented among them. Among the best known are James Doohan (Star Trek), Hayden Christensen (Star Wars) and Yvonne De Carlo (The Munsters). Numerous well-known athletes who have excelled in ice hockey, Canada's national sport, come from Vancouver. Glenn Anderson is a six-time Stanley Cup winner, and Olympic champion Paul Kariya is one of the best-known Canadians of Japanese descent.

Due to the very short terms of office, only a few mayors had a lasting influence on the development of the city. The first, Malcolm Alexander MacLean, oversaw the rebuilding of the city after the 1886 fire. Louis Denison Taylor served four times between 1910 and 1934, and his eleven-year tenure is the longest of any previous mayor. Larry Campbell's previous career as a coroner served as a template for the hit television series Da Vinci's Inquest. Gordon Campbell was Prime Minister of British Columbia from 2001 to 2011 and has been Canada's Ambassador to the UK since 2011.

Squamish chief Joseph Capilano (actually Su-á-pu-luck) also had an influence on Canadian politics. First Nations Congregation leader Shawn Atleo is also from Vancouver. Environmental activist David McTaggart founded Greenpeace here.