It is the largest city in British Columbia and in the Pacific Northwest region. It is bounded by the Strait of Georgia, Burrard Inlet, the Fraser River, the city of Burnaby, and the University Endowment Lands.
Vancouver is also part of the slightly larger Lower Mainland metropolitan area which comprises a total population of 2,524,113, making it the largest metropolitan area in Western Canada and the third largest in the country.
Vancouver is ethnically diverse, with 52% of city residents and 43% of Metro residents having a first language other than English.
Vancouver was first settled in the 1860s as a result of immigration caused by the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, particularly from the United States, although many immigrants did not remain after the rush. The city developed rapidly from a small lumber mill town into a metropolitan centre following the arrival of the transcontinental railway in 1887. The Port of Vancouver became internationally significant after the completion of the Panama Canal, which reduced freight rates in the 1920s and made it viable to ship export-bound prairie grain west through Vancouver. It has since become the busiest seaport in Canada, and exports more cargo than any other port in North America.
Vancouver is consistently ranked one of the three most livable cities in the world and is considered one of the cleanest cities.