Vancouver skyline 2009
Vancouver (pronounced /vænˈkuːvər/) is a coastal city located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is named for British Captain George Vancouver, who explored the area in the 1790s. The name Vancouver itself originates from the Dutch "van Coevorden," denoting somebody from Coevorden, a city in the Netherlands.
The largest metropolitan area in Western Canada, Vancouver ranks third largest in the country and the city proper ranks eighth. The city of Vancouver has a population of just over 578,000 and its Census Metropolitan Area exceeds 2.1 million people. Its residents are ethnically diverse, with 52% having a first language other than English.
Logging sawmills established in 1867 in the area known as Gastown became the nucleus around which the townsite grew, and Vancouver was incorporated as a city in 1886. By 1887, the transcontinental railway was extended to the city to take advantage of its large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada, and London. The Port Metro Vancouver is now the busiest and largest in Canada, as well as the fourth largest port (by tonnage) in North America. While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second largest industry. It also is the third largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York City, earning it the nickname Hollywood North.
Vancouver has ranked as one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade. It has hosted many international conferences and events, including the 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements and the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication. The 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics will be held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler, a resort community 125 km (78 miles) north of the city.