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Vancouver (British Columbia), city in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, on Burrard
Inlet (an arm of the Strait of Georgia), opposite Vancouver Island, near the state of
Washington in the United States. It is a leading Pacific coast seaport and the main
commercial, manufacturing, financial, tourist, and cultural center of the province. The
Vancouver area is the third largest metropolitan area in Canada, after Toronto, Ontario, and
Montreal, Quebec. Principal products include wood and metal items, refined petroleum,
processed food, and printed materials. Vancouver is served by major railroads and highways
and by an international airport on nearby Sea Island.
Occupying a picturesque site near the rugged Coast Mountains, Vancouver is a
cosmopolitan city with numerous large modern buildings. Among the city’s many parks are
Stanley Park, which contains the Vancouver Public Aquarium and a zoo; and Vanier Park,
where the Vancouver Museum, with a collection of aboriginal art and artifacts, the Maritime
Museum, and the H. R. MacMillan Planetarium are located. The Pacific Coliseum hosts the
city’s professional ice hockey team; professional football is played at the domed B.C. Place
Stadium. In 1994 the National Basketball Association (NBA) granted franchises to Vancouver
and Toronto; the teams, which will begin play in the 1995-1996 season, will be the first NBA
clubs outside of the United States. Other points of interest include the Vancouver Art Gallery,
with a collection of predominantly British Columbian and other Canadian art; the Van Dusen
Botanical Gardens; Chinatown, containing one of the largest Chinese communities in North
America; and Gastown, a restoration of an old section of the city. Vancouver is the home of
the University of British Columbia (site of the important Museum of Anthropology), the Emily
Carr College of Art and Design (1925), and a community college; Simon Fraser University
(1963) is in adjacent Burnaby. The city supports a symphony orchestra, an opera company,
and a number of theater groups.
The Salish tribe inhabited the site when the Spanish explorer Jose Maria Narvaez visited the
area in 1791. The first permanent white settlement, established around 1865 and
subsequently known as Gastown, was renamed Granville in 1870. When the city was
incorporated in 1886, it was given its present name, for Captain George Vancouver, the
British explorer who had surveyed the region in 1792. The community grew as a
wood-processing center, a railroad terminus, and a port, surpassing Victoria as the largest
commercial center on Canada’s west coast by the turn of the century. Many new buildings
were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, when Vancouver prospered as a shipping center
for trade with eastern Asia. In 1986 Vancouver was the site of Expo ‘86, a Canadian world’s
fair. Population (1986) 431,147; (1991) 471,844. Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area
(1986) 1,380,729; (1991) 1,602,502.
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