The city of Vancouver is found along Canada's west coast in the province of British Columbia. Vancouver is named for a British explorer who found the area around 1790. The name comes from the Dutch van Coevorden referring to somebody who was from Coevorden in the Netherlands.
Vancouver is one of Canada's largest cities with more than a half million living in the core, and another 1.5 million in the surrounding area.
Right after the development of sawmills in 1867, Vancouver began to develop in industry. The downtown area often known as Gastown was the center of the town from which the city grew. In 1886, Vancouver became officially incorporated as a city and saw rapid advancement with the development of the transcontinental railway and placement on the busy seaport. Essential trading took place as a result of the seaport, providing links to London, the Orient and Eastern Canada. Presently Vancouver's seaport is the largest and busiest port in Canada.
The urban culture, diverse ethnic traditions and film industry are trademarks of the city. With recent popularity and growth in the film industry, Vancouver is aptly nicknamed "Hollywood North". Vancouver has also played host to many events and galas including the 1954 Commonwealth Games, 1976 United Nations Conference, 1986 Word Exposition and most recently, the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Vancouver is situated on the Burrard Peninsula and the Fraser River. Rolling slopes and flat ground make up the city area of 114 square km or 44 square miles. Vancouver and Bowen Island can be seen on clear days west of the city and in many cases the Northshore Mountains. To the southeast, often Mount Baker, a snow-capped volcano is seen (located in Washington State). The two huge bodies of water adjacent to the city are the Strait of Georgia and the Pacific Ocean. Another notable geographic city feature is Stanley Park. The park spans 404.9 hectares (1001 acres) providing a breathtaking woodland in the city. The park is one of the most well known in North America complete with attractions, the Seawall, recreational space and events held daily in the 150 year old forested area.
Various species of vegetation are able to prosper in the city due to the moderate climate found in Vancouver. Cedars, alders, maples, Douglas firs and various exotic species of trees can be found throughout the city and especially in Stanley Park.
Vancouver's environment is Oceanic and temperate. During the summer weeks the city experiences semi-drought conditions receiving little to no precipitation and maintaining average temperatures around 22 C. On July 30, 2009, Vancouver noted its highest temperature at 34.4 C. The winter months in Vancouver are marked with large amounts of rainfall of up to 47.2 in and a snowfall average of 19.0 inches typically not lasting more than a day or two. Seldom will temperatures go below 14.0 F or remain below freezing for a long period of time.
Many people groups are represented in the city of Vancouver. The city has been referred to a city of neighbourhoods as it consists of areas such as Chinatown, Little Italy and Greektown. A large gay community in the city's downtown area can likewise be found. In the most recent census (2006) it was reported that 52% of the city's population list a second language other than English as their mother tongue. The city has a sturdy Chinese representation with one third of Chinese origin. The largest people groups are still of European descent; even so, in recent years the city has seen a rapid increase of Asian immigrants.