Toronto is the capital city of the province of Ontario and the largest city in Canada by population, with 2,731,571 residents in 2016. Also in 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), the majority of which is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), had a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada’s most populous CMA. Toronto is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe, in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A global city, Toronto is a centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Indigenous peoples have travelled through and inhabited the Toronto area, situated on a broad sloping plateau interspersed with rivers, deep ravines, and urban forest, for more than 10,000 years. After the broadly disputed Toronto Purchase, when the Mississaugas surrendered the area to the British Crown, the British established the town of York in 1793 and later designated it as the capital of Upper Canada. During the War of 1812, the town was the site of the Battle of York and suffered heavy damage by U.S. troops. York was renamed and incorporated as the city of Toronto in 1834, and became the capital of the province of Ontario during Canadian Confederation in 1867. The city proper has since expanded past its original borders through both annexation and amalgamation to its current area of 630.2 km2 (243.3 sq mi).
The diverse population of Toronto reflects its current and historical role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada, with over 50 percent of residents belonging to a visible minority population group, and over 200 distinct ethnic origins represented among its inhabitants. While the majority of Torontonians speak English as their primary language, over 160 languages are spoken in the city.
Toronto is a prominent centre for music, theatre, motion picture production, and television production, and is home to the headquarters of Canada’s major national broadcast networks and media outlets. Its varied cultural institutions, which include numerous museums and galleries, festivals and public events, entertainment districts, national historic sites, and sports activities, attract over 25 million tourists each year. Toronto is known for its many skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, the CN Tower. The city is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the headquarters of Canada’s five largest banks, and the headquarters of many large Canadian and multinational corporations. Its economy is highly diversified with strengths in technology, design, financial services, life sciences, education, arts, fashion, business services, environmental innovation, food services, and tourism.