Vancouver Guide

Vancouver is a coastal city located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is named for British Captain George Vancouver, who explored and first mapped the area in the 1790s.

The metropolitan area is the most populous in Western Canada and third-largest in the country, with Vancouver itself ranking eighth among Canadian cities. According to the 2006 census Vancouver had a population of 578,041, and just over 2.1 million people resided in its metropolitan area. Over the last 30 years, immigration has dramatically increased, making the city more ethnically and linguistically diverse; 52% do not speak English as their first language. Almost 30% of the city's inhabitants are of Chinese heritage.

Climate

In winter, a majority of days receive measurable precipitation. Summer months are drier and sunnier with moderate temperatures, tempered by sea breezes. The daily maximum averages 22 °C (72 °F) in July and August, with highs rarely reaching 30 °C (86 °F). On average, snow falls on eleven days per year, with three days receiving 6 centimetres (2.4 in) or more. Average yearly snowfall is 48.2 centimetres (19.0 in) but typically does not remain on the ground for long.

Winters in Greater Vancouver are the fourth mildest of Canadian cities. Vancouver has daily minimum temperatures below freezing for an average of 46 days per year and below −10 °C (14.0 °F) on two days per year. On average, 4.5 days a year have temperatures staying below freezing.

Education

There are five public universities in the Greater Vancouver area, the largest being the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU), with a combined enrollment of more than 80,000 undergraduates, graduates, and professional students in 2008. In 2006, UBC was ranked 27th best university in the world by Newsweek magazine, and SFU ranked as the best comprehensive university in Canada by Maclean's University Rankings in 2009. The other public universities are Capilano University, the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

The Canadian College and other colleges in the surrounding areas of Metro Vancouver provide career, trade, and university-transfer programs.

Quality and cost of living

Vancouver has been ranked one of the most livable cities in the world for more than a decade. As of 2010, Vancouver has been ranked as having the 4th highest quality of living of any city on Earth. In contrast, according to Forbes, Vancouver had the 6th most overpriced real estate market in the world and was second-highest in North America after Los Angeles in 2007. Along with Toronto, Vancouver has also been ranked among Canada's most expensive cities in which to live. Forbes has also ranked Vancouver as the tenth cleanest city in the world.

Sports and Recreation

The mild climate of the city and close proximity to ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes make the area a popular destination for outdoor recreation. The city has several large beaches, many adjacent to one another, extending from the shoreline of Stanley Park around False Creek to the south side of English Bay, from Kitsilano to the University Endowment Lands, (which also has beaches that are not part of the city proper). The 18 kilometres (11 miles) of beaches include Second and Third Beaches in Stanley Park, English Bay (First Beach), Sunset, Kitsilano Beach, Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, Spanish Banks Extension and Spanish Banks West. The coastline provides for many types of water sport, and the city is a popular destination for boating enthusiasts.

Within a 20-to-30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver are the North Shore Mountains, with three ski areas: Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, and Mount Seymour. Mountain bikers have created world-renowned trails across the North Shore. The Capilano River, Lynn Creek and Seymour River, also on the North Shore, provide opportunities to whitewater enthusiasts during periods of rain and spring melt, though the canyons of those rivers are more utilized for hiking and swimming than whitewater.