Study in Vancouver, Canada

Study in Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a gorgeous city in British Columbia, Canada; a northern coastal seaport bordered by the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.  By population, Vancouver is the eighth largest city in Canada, with 603,000 residents as of the 2011 census, and the third largest metropolitan area in the country, with a population of 2.3 million.  It is also very densely populated, the densest city in all of Canada with just over 13,500 people per square mile. 

Vancouver has a unique history, one that dates back to 1867 when the settlement of Gastown (also known as Granville), the original name for the region, was established around a logging sawmill and a burgeoning forestry industry.  Employment opportunities at the mill sparked a surge in population growth, and with that surge the region’s incorporation as a city in 1886, at which time the name was changed to Vancouver.  Not surprisingly, the decision to grant Vancouver cityhood came on the heels of an announcement that the transcontinental railroad route would be extended to Vancouver to take advantage of its large seaport, which rapidly made the city a vital link in the trade route between the Orient, Canada and Europe.

With regard to its people, Vancouver is astoundingly varied; one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in the entire world.  One of the nicknames offered for this coastal melting pot is the “City of Neighborhoods,” this because of its layout which features various communities, each with a distinct character and ethnic mix.  In the early to mid 20th century, this diversity consisted mainly of people of European descent, with neighborhoods, for example, separating the Scottish/Irish—once the largest ethnic group in Vancouver—from the Germans, a community who fell out of favor during the First World War and were essentially driven out.  Today, however, Vancouver looks much different. Since the 1980s the city has seen a major influx of people of Asian descent, particularly Chinese, and Punjabi, better known as Indo-Canadians.  As of the last census, 30 percent of Vancouver residents were of Chinese descent, and although the national and official language of Vancouver is English, an estimated 52 percent of the population does not speak English as their first language.

People planning to move to Vancouver, to perhaps take advantage of an educational or business opportunity, will be pleased to know the city ranks highly in the worldwide “livable cities” rankings.  In fact, according to statistics, it is the first city ever to rank among the top-ten for five straight years.  These statistics, among other things, have sparked great demand for housing in Vancouver, unfortunately making it a very expensive city in which to live—the least affordable in all of Canada.  As of 2010, the average two-level home was valued at over $600,000, compared to just over $300,000 in other Canadian cities.  However, the city has and continues to make efforts to reduce housing costs by encouraging builders to focus on smaller homes and high-rise condominiums.  Those who plan to rent while they’re living in Vancouver can expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000, depending on the type of accommodations and the area in which the unit is located.

In its efforts to protect the city’s reputation as a beautiful and peaceful place to work, study, and live, the city council of Vancouver has consistently rejected any plans to build a freeway system within the city, making Highway 1 along the coastline the only way out of town for those traveling north or south.  Population growth in the city has, naturally, led to more automobiles and traffic congestion, but unlike other major cities in Canada, the number of people driving to the city for work has actually decreased in recent years.  This is due in large part to TransLink, the organization that operates Vancouver’s public transportation system.  Made up of rapid bus service called the B-Line; a foot passenger and bicycle ferry service titled SeaBus; an automated rapid transit service called SkyTrain and a West Coast commuter rail, the public transportation in Vancouver is among the best and most efficient in the world.

Obtaining goods and services while in Vancouver is very convenient, and depending on where you live in the city, you may find everything you need within walking distance.  This includes branches of almost every North American bank, shopping malls, grocery stores, hair and nail salons, churches, restaurants, barbers, drug stores, convenience stores and more.  The city also features over 200 lush-green parks for walking, jogging, picnicking, etc., botanical gardens, fitness centers, ballparks and gymnasiums.

New residents and tourists in Vancouver will quickly realize the city is much more than just a bustling and cosmopolitan urban center, but one surrounded by miles and miles of beautiful nature.  As a result, the city has become a major tourist attraction for internationals, a place where people can enjoy all of its museums, galleries, world-class shopping and 5-Star restaurants on one day, and the next day explore the breathtaking lakes, rivers and trees that supply the city’s backdrop.  Individuals and families alike are drawn to Vancouver not just for the excitement of its urban area, but for the wonderful opportunities available for hiking, fishing, boating and skiing.  This unique urban/natural combination has ultimately made tourism the second-largest economic industry in Vancouver—second only to forestry, the industry on which the city was founded.

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