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Vancouver is the third largest city of Canada and it is considered one of the best places on earth to live. The city has atmosphere and a lot of green: there are over 180 city parks. Rugged nature is but a stone's throw away. The city was named after an English captain, George Vancouver, who had Dutch ancestors, whose original name was Van Coevorden. Indirectly, Vancouver was named after Coevorden in the Netherlands.
The city itself has 600,000 inhabitants, but the large urban area around Vancouver has 2 million inhabitants. The people of Vancouver have various ethnic backgrounds. There are plenty of Chinese and Vancouver has the second largest Chinatown of North-America (after San Francisco). There are also immigrants from India, Italy, Greece, Japan, de Philippines, Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia. Recently, immigration form Eastern Europe has increased.
Vancouver is located in the west of Canada, just north of the American border. The city is famous for its beautiful location on the Georgia Straits. Vancouver and Georgia Straits are west of the Coast Mountains. Vancouver is located at 4800 kilometers from Montreal.
Vancouver's location plays an important role in the region's economy. The city trades many products from the interior, like timber and ore. Many large timber and mining companies have their headquarters in Vancouver. The products are exported via the port or via the road (Trans Canada Highway) or by train, to the east of Canada.
The city is also a center of high-tech industry, software development and biotechnology.
The beautiful location of Vancouver attracts many tourists, both in the summer and in the winter. In 2010, the city will organize the Olympic Winter Games.
A little to the south of the city lies Vancouver International Airport. There are many connections to cities in North-America, Europe and Asia. To the east of the city, at about an hour's drive, there is a smaller airport, Abbotsford International Airport. Despite its name, this airport is used primarily for domestic flights.
Vancouver has an excellent public transport system with buses, ferries and an elevated city train called Sky Train. In the buses people have to pay with exact change for a ticket. You can buy tickets for the Skytrain from a machine which returns change and also accepts bank and credit cards. You can also buy a day pass or a booklet with tickets for ten rides (Fare Saver tickets).
In contrast to many other North-American cities, there are no motorways that reach the center of Vancouver. The Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) runs to the east of 'downtown', and ends at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Highway 99 runs from the American border and ends in the Richmond suburb to the south of the city center.
The center of Vancouver is a very densely populated area. There is busy traffic and it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a parking space in the street. The city council discourages this anyway: the parking rates are higher than they are in the car parks. If you forget to fill the parking meter in time, your car may be towed away.
Vancouver is considered very safe, but the city has one big problem: car theft. Leave nothing of value behind in your car, because chances are your door will be forced open or your window smashed in.
Greater Vancouver offers a wide range of hotels, motels and bed & breakfast accommodations. Because the city is a popular holiday destination, we recommend you book your hotel room in advance, in particular if you want a room in the city center, because they are often in short supply.
For more information about Vancouver, we recommend Google, and the following sources: