Vancouver, Canada, the largest city in British Columbia and one of the most populous in Canada. It is magnificently situated on a peninsula in southwestern British Columbia between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains. Burrard Inlet borders the city on the north, the Strait of Georgia on the west, and the North Arm of the Fraser River on the south. Downtown Vancouver faces Burrard Inlet, site of the city's port.
Vancouver is the principal commercial, industrial, and shipping center for western Canada. Western Canada's abundant natural resources and heavy trade with Asian countries have made Vancouver the busiest port in the nation. Manufacturing includes lumber and paper milling, food processing, oil refining, metal fabricating, and the production of chemicals, machinery, electronic items, and printed matter.
Vancouver's port is ice-free all year and handles both overseas and coastal trade. Vancouver is served by the Trans-Canada Highway, the nation's two transcontinental railways, and one of the busiest international airports in Canada. Pipelines link the city with oil and gas fields of British Columbia and Alberta.
Vancouver has numerous scenic and recreational attractions. Parks, beaches, and marinas dot much of the city's extensive shoreline. There are ski resorts and a provincial park in the mountains, just north of Burrard Inlet. On a wooded peninsula near the downtown area is 1,000-acre (400-hectare) Stanley Park. It has beaches, nature trails, a lagoon, and a symphony bowl where concerts and plays are performed in summer. The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Center is here. Queen Elizabeth Park is noted for its botanical gardens and conservatory of exotic plants. Vancouver is home to the Canucks (professional hockey).
Cultural institutions include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Opera, the Vancouver Art Gallery; MacMillan Planetarium; and the Maritime Museum. The Vancouver Government Centre is near by. The University of British Columbia campus overlooks the Strait of Georgia.
A settlement called Granville was established on the site of Vancouver about 1870. It remained insignificant until it was made the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885. A year later the community was renamed for the British explorer George Vancouver and granted a city charter. Thereafter, Vancouver grew rapidly as a transshipment point for goods bound to and from the Far East. The city also became a center of fishing operations. Its stature as a port was greatly enhanced by the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. The canal provided an economical water route to Europe and helped make the city an outlet for wheat from the Prairie Provinces.
Vancouver was hit hard by the depression of the 1930's, but its economy was revived by expansion of shipping and industry during World War II. Since the war, growth has stemmed mainly from increased world demand for Canadian natural resources and the rise of Japan as a leading industrial nation. In 1986 Vancouver celebrated its centennial and Expo 86, a world's fair, was held there.