Gateway to the Canadian Rockies – Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia
By John McKiernan
It is an exciting time to be in Vancouver. Often used as a gateway to Canadian Rockies’ towns like Banff and Jasper, it has a huge amount to offer in itself. This coastal town is the largest city in both British Columbia and Western Canada with a city population of just over 2.5 million. Home to some of Canada’s classiest accommodations, most varied activities and soon to be host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver is the place to be.
Vancouver is named after British explorer George Vancouver. It was first settled in the 1860’s as a result of immigration caused by the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. Following the arrival of the transcontinental railway in 1887, the city developed at increasing speeds. Once the Panama Canal was completed, Vancouver became more internationally important as it became viable to transport goods west through Vancouver. Today, it has become the busiest sea port in North America, exporting more cargo than anywhere else.
Vancouver is very ethnically diverse with 52% of city residents speaking a first language other than English. Although traditionally Vancouver’s’ economy relied on natural industries like forestry, mining, fishing and agriculture, it has slowly changed over the years. The tourism industry has grown rapidly and after Los Angeles and New York, it has become the largest film production centre in North America. Because of this, it has been nicknamed Hollywood North.
Vancouver is consistently ranked one of the three most livable cities in the world. In 2008, only Zurich, Vienna and Geneva outranked Vancouver as the city with the highest quality of living in the world. It was ranked first by The Economist. After Toronto, it is the most expensive city to live in Canada and the 89th most expensive globally.
2010 Winter Olympics
If skiing, bob sleighing and general winter sports are your cup of tea then Vancouver in 2010 is the perfect place for you. The 2010 Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics will be raging in Vancouver and nearby Whistler, a great ski mountain 125km north of the city. If you plan on visiting, book your accommodations early as it is going to be hectic up here!