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Vancouver is truly a jewel. It is nestled between the picturesque North Shore Mountains, with Burrard Inlet in the north and False Creek in the south. It is this natural beauty (combined with its cultural diversity and thriving communities) that allows Vancouver to rate as one of the world's most livable cities. The city, much like the province to which it belongs, is rich in natural resources, which led to its development in 1867. Back then it was known as Gastown, a beloved burrow of the city that stills exists today, and was later named Vancouver, after the explorer George Vancouver, when the railway came to town in 1886. The city developed during this economic boom and is now, with its many industries and exports, a major player on the world stage. It is the beautiful tapestry of such diverse communities, from Chinatown to Point Grey, that truly make Vancouver such a wonderful city to call home.
Vancouverites are serious about their recreational activities. If you ever get tired of exploring Stanley Park (the 1000 acre forest right in the heart of the city), you could stroll through Queen Elizabeth Park or cycle around the 22 kilometer seawall that lines Vancouver's waterfront. On a beautiful sunny day in Vancouver, there are miles of beach front for sunbathing—from English Bay to Sunset Beach, Kitsilano Beach, and Jericho Beach, or the scenic views of Spanish Banks, it doesn’t take long to find a beautiful beachfront. There are also 24 community centres to join and numerous yoga studios. For a cultural immersion, visit The Museum of Anthropology, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Vancouver Art Gallery, and many more. Or take a trip to the main library branch at Library Square for an architectural delight. Vancouver is on par with other metropolitan cities in the level of excellent medical care provided at Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul's Hospital.
City planning allowed for only one major freeway, Highway #1, to connect Greater Vancouver Regional District to Vancouver Proper. The urban development of the city relies heavily on rapid transit, operated by TransLink, which includes a massive system of buses, seabuses, and a three-line Skytrain system (Millenium Line, Expo Line, and the most recently added Canada Line). Three bridges—Burrard Street, Granville Street, and Cambie Street—feed traffic in and out of the downtown core. Vancouver has also developed an avid cycling community. For this reason, there are many dedicated bicycle lanes which offer another convenient, and environmentally friendly, way to get around the city.
Vancouver is home to over 56,000 students who are spread out amongst 74 elementary schools, 17 elementary annexes, and 18 secondary schools. Many schools are representative of their diverse communities and offer some courses in non-official languages. Students are encouraged to excel in all areas, from arts to academics and athletics. One of the most notable secondary schools is Lord Byng, which has graduated many famous alumni, including screenwriter Chris Haddock. For students interested in post-secondary education, they can choose from one of Vancouver’s world-renowned universities, including the University of British Columbia, which is located on the UBC Endowment Lands.
Vancouver is urban living at its best and it attracts many residents. The current population is 603,502, up 4.4% since 2006. The city covers 114 square kilometers, making it one of the most densely populated cities in North America. A community founded by immigrants, Vancouver is proudly multicultural and visible minorities now make up the majority. In fact, over 50% of inhabitants do not speak English as a first language and 30% of residents are Chinese. The average income in 2009 for Vancouver proper was $43,911, which is greater than the average Metro Vancouver income of $41,176. The property tax for the city of Vancouver in 2013 is $3.79 per every $1000 of taxable property value. The metered water rates vary from rainy to dry seasons, from $2.30 to $2.89 per unit (with a unit measuring 2,831 litres).
Vancouver is rich in culture and hosts many events and festivals all year round. If you love to run you will want to be a part of the famous Vancouver Sun Run or BMO Marathon every spring. With the arrival of spring also come the cherry blossoms, an event that is celebrated annually by the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Vancouver is also famous for its vibrant gay community in Davie Village, which is the heart of the annual Gay Pride Parade, one of the largest in Canada. Summer would not be complete without a visit to the International Jazz Festival (with venues around the city), outdoor plays at Bard on the Beach, and the fireworks competition at English Bay. The celebrations continue into the winter with many holiday events, from the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Gardens to the Lights of Hope at St. Paul's Hospital to the Bright Nights train ride at Stanley Park. Vancouver is an incredible city brimming with arts, culture, sport, culinary creations, business, exports, and a multicultural heritage. Whether you are taking in a hockey game at Rogers Arena, watching a performance at the Orpheum Theater, or cycling along the seawall, Vancouver is sure to deliver something special for everyone.