Ottawa, Ontario, the national capital of Canada. It is located at the junction of the Ottawa and Rideau rivers, about 105 miles (170 km) west of Montreal and 220 miles (355 km) northeast of Toronto. Gatineau, Quebec, on the opposite bank of the Ottawa River, is Ottawa's largest suburb.
Ottawa owes its size and importance primarily to its position as the national capital. The federal government is the city's largest employer. Tourism is also a major part of Ottawa's economy. Manufacturing consists mainly of food processing and the making of computer chips. The city is served by Canada's two transcontinental railways, the Trans-Canada Highway, and an international airport.
Ottawa's area is 42 square miles (109 km2). The city is situated along the south bank of the Ottawa River. Part of the Rideau Canal, a waterway linking the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario, winds through the city. Among the city's attractions are two waterfalls: Chaudière Falls, on the Ottawa River, and Rideau Falls, on the Rideau River.
Boulevards and parks border the two rivers and the canal in many areas. The city has an extensive park system. Outside the city limits the national government maintains the 1,235-acre (500-hectare) Central Experimental Farm with an arboretum and botanic garden open to the public.
The Rideau Canal forms the dividing line between the two sections of the city. The lower, or eastern, section is mainly French-speaking while the upper, or western, section is mainly English-speaking.
Canada's Parliament Buildings are located on Parliament Hill, a prominent bluff overlooking the Ottawa River. Rising from the Centre Block, the main building, is the 291-foot (89-m) Peace Tower with a carillon of 53 bells. Overlooking the river, attached to the rear of the Centre Block, is the Library of Parliament. Nearby are the Supreme Court of Canada, the National Library and Public Archives, and the Royal Canadian Mint.
There are many museums in Ottawa. Among the national museums are the National Gallery of Canada (art), the National Museum of Natural Sciences, and the National Museum of Science and Technology, which includes the National Aviation Museum. Other museums include the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Ski Museum. Just across the Ottawa River, in Gatineau, is the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Ottawa has several annual festivals, including Tulip Festival (April) and Winterlude (February). The Rideau Canal is a popular site for year-round recreation. Paths along its course are used for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing, and the canal is used for canoeing, sailing, and skating. Lansdowne Park is the site of the Civic Centre, home of the Rough Riders (professional football). The Corel Center hosts the Senators (professional hockey).
The National Arts Centre, overlooking the Rideau Canal, features symphony concerts, opera, and dramatic productions in two theaters. Nepean Point, an outdoor theater at the edge of the Ottawa River, presents musical, variety, and dramatic shows during summer.
Ottawa's two leading institutions of higher learning are Carleton University and the University of Ottawa.
Ottawa is governed by a popularly elected mayor and city council. The federal government participates in local planning and development through the National Capital Commission.