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"Young, healthy and cosmopolitan, Vancouver is a truly liveable city"[1]


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[edit] Introduction

"Coming in to land at Vancouver International Airport, it's already obvious why so many people have been seduced by Canada's third-largest city, although the reasons themselves have little to do with urban development, and everything to do with its immediate proximity to the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the beautiful Gulf Islands just a hop and a skip to the west, and the snow-capped Coast Mountains immediately to the north."[4]

Vancouver is located in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. It is known for their beautiful landscape and has been used in a number of films and has coined the term "Hollywood North".[5]Vancouver is also ethnically diverse, more than half the population has a first language other than English. They accommodate many different cultures such as Chinese, Japanese, Indian, First Nations and Italian culture. [6]

Vancouver is the most densely populated city in Canada, and is ranked among the top five cities in North America to have over 250,000 residents. [7]


[edit] Globalization

Vancouver’s geographic location makes it very important to Canada as a whole. It is the closest major city to Asia. It provides many economic opportunities for the whole country when it comes to doing business with some of the most powerful countries in the world and some of the biggest companies in the world.

Vancouver also offers the most densely populated city in Canada represented by a mix of ethnicities. [9]

[edit] Population

Vancouver has a diverse population. During the years leading up to the First World War Vancouver experienced an influx of immigrants from the British Isles and many more from Ontario. Its expansion during the 1920s is when Vancouver became one of Canada’s largest cities. The growth continued in the late 1920s as more people continued to migrate from Britain and people in the prairies started to migrate west.

In the time between the first and Second World War Vancouver saw an influx of Asian immigrants. Mainly Chinese and Japanese. Even through the persecution the Japanese faced during the Second World War the Asian population in Vancouver continued to be a significant group.

Today people of British decent account for roughly 30 per cent of Vancouver’s population. While roughly half of the city’s population is of Asian origin. This section of the population is mostly contrived of Chinese, but also includes Filipino, East Indian, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Vancouver’s population relies so heavily on immigrants that by 1979 the school board reported that nearly 40 per cent of the children in elementary school did not speak English as a first language. More than 45 per cent of Vancouver’s population identifies with a language other than English or French as their primarily spoken language at home. Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi and others are the most prominent dialects in Vancouver. [10]

[edit] Connection to Asia

The geographic location of Vancouver provides many benefits to Canada as a trade hub. Vancouver is the closest major Canadian city to Asia. So it is only natural that Vancouver is Canada’s primary trade hub with Asia.[11] Throughout history many Japanese people have made their way to Vancouver, some vacationing in the mountains and many immigrating. “The world system is constantly reorganizing, and the growing global importance of China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan as emergent economic and political centers refocused the global economy on the Pacific Rim in the 1990s. By the end of that decade, Japan had become an economic powerhouse, with major investments in North America and Europe and a host of multinational corporations.” The importance globally of these Asian nations contribute to the importance of Vancouver. Vancouver in recent years has been working on its relationship with China, who is going to be world power very soon.

One of the ways that Vancouver is developing a relationship with China is through their bid to become an offshore trading hub for the Chinese yuan (the Chinese currency). Companies all across Canada would benefit from a deal such as this. [12]

Furthering the relationship that Vancouver has with China and other Asian nations will bring more business and attention to the area. Vancouver could be the hub for other cities in North America and cities across Asia when it comes to international trade.

Each year Forbes ranks the biggest companies in the world, in 2014 China offered 5 companies of the top 10 and Japan and South Korea contributed one more each to the top 25. With so much influence in Asia, Vancouver could become more and more important. [13]

[edit] Political Geography

[edit] City Council

Vancouver is a city in the province of British Columbia, and is run by the Vancouver City Council which consists of the Mayor who is the Chair of City Council, who is currently Gregor Roberson and nine other council members. They are each elected for three year terms and a deputy mayor is chosen every month from the nine Councillors. Unlike other cities in British Columbia, The City of Vancouver is governed by the Vancouver Charter which gives the council the power to:

  • Pass bylaws regulating such things as businesses, building, noise, and land use
  • Buy and sell property
  • Collect property taxes and other taxes
  • Approve major spending for all parts of the City government
  • Take on debt
  • Allocate funds for special activities, such as arts and community services
  • Set up departments and offices for City services
  • Hire staff for City departments and offices

[edit] Mayor Gregor Robertson

Gregor Robertson is currently in his second term as Mayor of Vancouver after being re-elected in 2011 due to his accomplishments during his first term. Mayor Robertson is currently working to end street homelessness, further improving public transit and making Vancouver the greenest city in the world. Mayor Robertson has helped made Vancouver internationally known as the Green Capital and has made going green good for the economy by implementing the award-winning Greenest City 2020 Action Plan that works towards making Vancouver an environmental leader in energy efficiency, waste reduction, cleaner air and local food. Mayor Roberton’s top priority however is housing and getting homeless people off the streets by opening new homeless shelters throughout the city. [14]

[edit] Population

[edit] Population Density

Chart 1.Vancouver Population Density
Chart 1.Vancouver Population Density [15]

Population density is defined as "a measurement of the number of people per given unit of land. [16] The overall population for Vancouver as a whole is an outstanding 2,451,779. [17] As of 2011, the population of the city of Vancouver is estimated at 603,502 people, a 4.4% increase from 2006. [18] “The city is the tenth most populous city in Canada, but the most densely populated city in all of Canada”. [19] The city consists of 115 km, therefore the population density per square kilometer is approximately 5,249.1. [20]

[edit] Population Composition

Population composition is the "structure of a population in terms of age, sex, and other properties such as marital status and education. [21]

[edit] Age and Sex

Chart 2.Vancouver Age Groups
Chart 2.Vancouver Age Groups [22]

As Chart 2 shows, age distribution in Vancouver City for 2006 Census and 2011 Census. Approximately 75% of people that reside in Vancouver are between 15-64 year olds. Ages 0-14 account for approximately 12% and ages 65 and over account for approximately 14%. Furthermore, Chart 3 breaks down the population even further to examine population by five-year age groups and sex. Vancouver City is occupied by a large population of ages 20-54 with a median age of 39.7[23] and slightly more females than males. For the total population, there are 295,100 males compared to 308,400 females. [24]

Chart 3.Vancouver Age Groups and Sex Differences
Chart 3.Vancouver Age Groups and Sex Differences [25]

[edit] Marital Status

Chart 4.Vancouver Marital Status
Chart 4.Vancouver Marital Status [26]

In Vancouver, approximately 50% of the total population aged 15 and over were either married (41%) or living with a common-law partner (9%). The remaining 50% were not married and not living with a common-law partner, including those who were single (36%), separated (2%), divorced (7%) or widowed (5). Therefore, the majority of the population of Vancouver is made up of single individuals who have never been married and married couples. [27] Among couples in the census subdivision of Vancouver, 42.8% were couples with children aged 24 and under at home with 50,100 married couples with children and 4,075 common-law couples with children. There were 52,925 married couples without children and 19,505 common-law couples without children. For comparison, 46.9% of couples in Canada had children aged 24 and under at home. Therefore, Vancouver is slightly below the average amount among Canada, but only by approximately 4%. [28]

[edit] Housing

When referring to structural types of dwelling places, "apartment, building that has fewer than five storeys" ranked the highest with 33% of people in Vancouver City residing there, followed by "apartment, building that has five or more storeys" (26.6%), "single-detached house" (18%) and "apartment, duplex" (17%). Among household types, "one-person household" ranked the highest with 38.3%, followed by "couple-family households without children" (24.5%), "couple-family households with children" (18.5%), "lone-parent family households" (8.2) and "other households" (7.7%).[29]

[edit] Education Levels

For education attainment in Vancouver City among ages 15-64, "High school certificate" ranked highest at 27%, followed by "University certificate" (25%), "No certificate" (17%), "College" (16%), "Apprenticeship" (9%) and "University certificate, below bachelor" (6%). Within major fields of study "No postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree" ranked highest with 44%, followed by "Other" (19%), Business; management and public administration" (12%), "Architecture: engineering; and related technologies" (11%), "Health: parks, recreation and fitness" (7%) and "Social and behavioural sciences and law" (6%). Overall, 39% of study was done inside Canada and 17% outside of Canada and similar education levels among males and females.[30]

[edit] Immigration

"Within Canada, BC was second only to Ontario in terms of the proportion of foreign-born people in the population. More than half (53.4%) of the foreign-born population came from Asia, primarily Mainland China, India, Hong Kong, the Philippines and the Middle East, while 31.2% were born in Europe."[31] When referring to gender, females accounted for 52% of the foreign-born population and the large majority was in the 25 to 54 age group. As of 2011, Vancouver's recent immigrants % was equal to 7.82%, compared to 4.36% for all of British Columbia. There was an overall decrease in recent immigrants of just over 2% in Vancouver and 0.58% in all of British Columbia. Approximately 32% of the population in Vancouver spoke a language other than English or French in the home in 2006 with the major foreign languages spoken were Chinese and Punjabi. "It is worth noting that 9% of foreign- born people in BC had no English language ability, while nearly 15% of those who arrived between 2001 and 2006 had no English".[32]

[edit] Population Change

[edit] Total Fertility Rate

Total Fertility Rate (TFRs) is defined as the average number of births per woman of childbearing years, usually considered between 15 and 49 years of age.[33]

The following are values of TFR from 2008:

  • Vancouver 1.36
  • BC 1.51
  • Canada 1.68 [34]

Vancouver has a slightly lower value of TFRs than both British Columbia and Canada, however the difference is minimal.

[edit] Life Expectancy

The following values are for Vancouver (average from 2005-2009) in years:

  • Total Life Expectancy: 82.6
  • Male: 80.0
  • Female: 85.1

The following values are for British Columbia (average from 2005-2009) in years:

  • Total Life Expectancy: 81.4
  • Male: 79.2
  • Female: 83.6 [35]

These values show that even though there is only a slight increase, Vancouver has longer life expectancy than British Columbia as a whole. Females have a greater life expectancy than males in both Vancouver and British Columbia, but this is a known fact for most places.

[edit] Migration

[edit] Trends

Chart 5
Chart 5[36]
Chart 6
Chart 6[37]
Chart 7
Chart 7[38]

Vancouver consists of the lowest portion of local residents who were born within the province, compared to the rest of Canada. Canada reports that 70 percent of all recent immigrants of Metro Vancouver have origins in Asia. 19 percent from a European background, and small portions have roots from Latin America or Africa. [39]

Between 2001 to 2006 Vancouver received 151,695 new Canadian immigrants. Those of British origin were historically the largest ethnic group in the city, the British society and culture was highly visible within some areas like South Granville and Kerrisdale. But currently the Chinese culture is the largest visible ethnic group in the city. [40]

Prior to the influx in the 1980s, the largest non- British ethnic group in Vancouver was German, Ukranian, Scandinavian and Italians. [41]

Hong Kong immigrants made Vancouver their home in anticipation of the transfer of the former colony’s sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China. This continued around the world that has already established Vancouver as the second most popular destination for immigrants in Canada, after Toronto. Some Asian ethnic groups in Vancouver are South Asians, Punjabis, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Cambodian and Japanese. [42]

Vancouver experiences high volumes of migration because of its location. It is located on the Pacific, which makes this city one of the nation’s largest industrial centres due to its transcontinental highway and rail routes. [43]

As you can see in Chart 5, it is displays the changes in population from migration and immigration. Chart 6 displays the changes in population within Vancouver, British Columbia. The last chart only shows changes of population due to immigration. [44]

Vancouver Port does more than 43 billion dollars in trade with over 90 countries annually. Port activities generate 4 billion dollars in gross domestic products and 8.9 billion dollars in economic output. [45]

The scenic location makes is a major migration destination as well. Not just for immigrants over seas but within Canada.

[edit] Asian Migration

Chart 8- Migration in Vancouver
Chart 8- Migration in Vancouver[46]

In 2006, of the total of 33,062 mainland Chinese immigrants coming to Canada, 33.1 percent of them (10,946) chose to live in British Columbia. Of those who resided in the province, only 644 lived outside the greater Vancouver area. In recent years, however, Chinese immigrants may have had a harder time finding satisfactory employment in Vancouver as opposed to other cities of Canada.[47]

To many Chinese immigrants, Vancouver is a much better city. Respondents found the city large, but felt it had fresh air and a tranquil lifestyle which in China they felt could only be found in the countryside.[48]

Many Chinese immigrants migrate to Vancouver because they have found that government officials in Canada treat people in much more polite and fairer ways than their counterparts in China, there are many other pull factors for instance, social insurance system and education systems.[49]

[edit] Push and Pull Factors

Arial view, Vancouver
Arial view, Vancouver[50]

One of the main reasons people migrate towards Vancouver is due to their landscape. From downtown's upbeat atmosphere, to the ski slopes. There is a wide variety of lifestyles it is suitable for.

More specific reasons of push factors might be from floods and wars in China, made it hard for people to grow crops for food, live in safety and peace, or make a living. Decisions on where to migrate were also shaped by other factors, such as the efforts of labour recruiters, and influence of family and village networks. [51]

Pull factors for Canada were related to the young nation’s pace of growth. New settlements and new industries often had a shortage of workers. Vancouver's distance from Europe and eastern North America meant that China was the closest large source of low-cost labour. [52]

In the earlier years, the Gold Rush of 1858, hundreds of Chinese miners joined 30,000 gold-seekers heading to Vancouver. In three years’ time, several thousand Chinese were prospecting there, and more arrived in the following years. Chinese workers were employed for several reasons. The most important reason was that, before the railroad was built, the easiest way to bring large numbers of labourers to Vancouver was by water across the Pacific or northwards from California.[53]

[edit] Social Geography

[edit] Sports

[edit] Pro Sports

Sports are a big part of how people identify themselves as well as with others in Vancouver. Vancouver offers pro sports teams such as the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks, Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps and is home to the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.

Vancouver’s deep connection to their sports teams has been evident in a couple of occasions where the city has rioted after loses in key games. In June of 1994 a riot erupted after the Canucks lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. A riot broke out again in 2011 after the Canucks again lost a game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals this time to the Boston Bruins.

[edit] Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010

The winter Olympics being held in Vancouver in 2010 brought more attention to the region than any other event possibly could. For a couple weeks of the year the whole world had their eyes on Vancouver. Because of the Olympics many people around the world will now think of Vancouver anytime Canada is referenced. Vancouver and the surrounding areas stand to benefit greatly from the experience. Globalization has made it easier for people to travel from one place to another. Whether that be on a trip, or a permanent move. Vancouver is a very diverse city, events showcasing the city such as this will contribute to the diversity. Different ethnic pockets around the city can provide comfort to others who are looking to move to Vancouver.

The opening and closing ceremonies as well as news pieces done around the time of the Olympics showcased Vancouver’s diversity, as well as how the city embraces other cultures.

The Olympics was also a positive experience because of how well the Canadian Olympic team performed on home soil. Team Canada’s performance was not only memorable but also historic with a total of 26 medals, 14 of those gold, a new record for gold medals won by a single nation in a Winter Olympics. [55]

Not only was the Olympics a positive experience for the athletes but also the people of Vancouver. They knew that there would be a large amount of people from around the world coming to compete and watch therefore improvements to the city had to be made. Such as making the Sea-to-Sky Highway which was a dangerous highway that transformed into a safer, faster road. Secondly, the creation of the Canada Line which made for quick transportation to and from the Vancouver International Airport and the Vancouver Convention Centre. Even though these projects drove up the cost of the games they improved the lives of Vancouver residents by giving them improvements and venues for the future that they may have not received if it wasn't for the Games. [56]

[edit] Cultural Geography

[edit] Introduction

"Distinctive cultural traditions, norms, and values are interwoven into place and have an impact on those of us who live in or experience those places" [57]. Culture is defined as "a set of shared belief systems, norms, and values practiced by a particular group of people [58].

[edit] Types of Cultures

Punjabi Market, Vancouver
Punjabi Market, Vancouver[59]

[edit] Indian Culture

More than a century ago, Vancouver’s booming lumber industry attracted thousands of immigrants from Punjab, a region located on the Indian-Pakistani border. As this cultural group became more established in Vancouver, Punjabi Market or Little India, as it’s sometimes called, has grown as an exotic district taking up six blocks along Main Street. From East 49th Avenue to Main Street you are able to visit the markets that sell sparkly gold bangles, vibrant silks, aromatic spice and try authentic Indian cuisine.[60]

[edit] Chinese Culture

During the late 1800s, the first Chinese immigrants began arriving in Vancouver to work on railroads and in the mines. As more workers and families began migrating to Vancouver, the neighbourhood kept growing, eventually developing into the third most populous Chinatown in North America. They have dedicated specific areas for authentic cuisine, shopping for specialty items in traditional markets and teashops, and contemporary nightlife with a new generation of Chinese-Canadians.[61]

[edit] First Nations Culture

Totem Pole's found throughout Vancouver
Totem Pole's found throughout Vancouver[62]

Although a very small percentage of Vancouver’s current population consists of First Nations people, the culture of these native tribes are displayed throughout the city, from towering totem poles located throughout public green spaces to contemporary aboriginal art galleries located along downtown. In Vancouver they also allow you to see historical artifacts and authentic artwork at the UBC Museum of Anthropology or view collections of artwork, carvings and jewelry at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. Interactive experience is also available at Stanley Park’s Klahowya Village, where you are able to witness a living village where visitors can taste authentic aboriginal cuisine, hear some ancient stories, and interact with First Nations weavers and carvers.[63]

[edit] Japanese Culture

Through Vancouver, the influence of Japanese culture is everywhere, from public gardens to the thousands of blooming cherry trees planted throughout the city’s green spaces. The first wave of Japanese immigrants, arrived in Vancouver between 1877 and 1928, many of whom settled in small fishing villages along the Pacific coastline and on farms in the Fraser Valley. Since then, it’s become easy to experience an authentic part of this culture by eating at one of the many Japanese restaurants, enjoying a tea ritual at the Nitobe Memorial Garden or attending the annual Powell Street Festival, the largest Japanese-Canadian community event in Vancouver.[64]

[edit] Italian Culture

Little Italy, Vancouver
Little Italy, Vancouver[65]

After World War II, thousands of Italians moved to Vancouver, settling into the Grandview neighborhood, which is located on Commercial Drive. During the 1950s, this area became known as Little Italy due to its high concentration of Italian residents, restaurants and businesses, but over time, a number of other ethnicities infiltrated the area, creating a culturally diverse neighborhood. Despite the name Commercial Drive, this area continues to have parts of Italian culture. There is an opportunity to learn about Italian-Canadian heritage at the Italian Cultural Centre, where you can watch a bocce ball game in Confederation Park or enjoy authentic Italian coffee.[66]

[edit] Language

Vancouver Languages [67]

In Vancouver in 2011, approximately 50% of the population reported "English only" as their mother tongue, 1.5% reported "French only" as their mother tongue, and approximately 45% reported a "non-official language only". These values differ from the provincial/territorial percentages by having less people who reported "English only" and having more people who reported "non-official language only", suggesting that there is a larger amount of immigrants residing in Vancouver. Also in 2011 in Vancouver, the three most common non-official language mother tongues were Cantonese (11%), Chinese (8%) and Mandarin (4%), where as the most common non-official language mother tongues at the provincial/territorial level were Panjabi, Cantonese and Chinese, suggesting that Vancouver has a larger amount of immigrants from China. [68]

[edit] Religion

Vancouver Religions
Vancouver Religions [69]

"Along with the ethnic breakdown of the city, the city of Vancouver is also very religiously diverse. The largest denomination, however, is the Roman Catholic Church, making up about 19% of the population. Protestantism is right behind Roman Catholicism as 17% of the population identifies as Protestant. However, due to the increasingly diverse population, Sikhism is quickly gaining ground on Protestantism and is thought to be the second largest religion in a few years".[70] The following chart shows the breakdown of the major religions that represent Vancouver. "No religion" and "Christianity" make up 85% of religion in Vancouver.

[edit] Notes and References

  9. News, C. (2012, February 9). B.C. population outpaces national growth rate - British Columbia - CBC News. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
  10. Vancouver. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
  11. Vancouver. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
  12. Marlow, I., McCarthy, S., & Bailey, I. (2014, June 12). Toronto, Vancouver join forces to make Canada offshore yuan trading hub. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
  13. Chen, L. (2014, July 5). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
  14. Mayor Gregor Robertson. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2014, from
  16. Fouberg, E. H., Murphy, A. B., De Blij, H. J., Nash C. J. (2012). Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture - Canadian Ed. Mississauga, ON: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
  21. Fouberg, E. H., Murphy, A. B., De Blij, H. J., Nash C. J. (2012). Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture - Canadian Ed. Mississauga, ON: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
  33. Fouberg, E. H., Murphy, A. B., De Blij, H. J., Nash C. J. (2012). Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture - Canadian Ed. Mississauga, ON: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
  55. Vancouver. (n.d.). Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
  56. Vancouver Olympics worth the $7-billion price tag, study says. (2013, October 23). Retrieved December 9, 2014, from
  57. Fouberg, E. H., Murphy, A. B., De Blij, H. J., Nash C. J. (2012). Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture - Canadian Ed. Mississauga, ON: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
  58. Fouberg, E. H., Murphy, A. B., De Blij, H. J., Nash C. J. (2012). Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture - Canadian Ed. Mississauga, ON: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
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