Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario. It is considered the centre of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) The four regional municipalities that surround it: Durham, Halton, Peel, and York combine to form what is now known as the GTA. The regional span of the Greater Toronto Area is sometimes combined with the city of Hamilton, Ontario and its surrounding region, to form the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The Greater Toronto Area is the northern part of the Golden Horseshoe.
Located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto is situated on a broad sloping plateau intersected by an extensive network of rivers, deep ravines, and urban forest. It anchors the Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated region surrounding the western end of Lake Ontario that is home to 8.7 million people, or around 26% of the entire population of Canada. The demographics of Toronto make it one of the world's most diverse cities, with about 50% of residents having been born in a country other than Canada, and over 200 distinct ethnic origins represented among its inhabitants. The vastly international population of the city reflects its current and historical role as an important destination for immigrants to Canada. While English is the primary language spoken by the majority of Torontonians, there are over 160 different languages spoken in the city.
Aboriginal peoples have inhabited the area now known as Toronto for thousands of years. The urban history of the city dates back to 1787, when British officials negotiated the Toronto Purchase with the Mississaugas of the New Credit.They established the Town of York, and later designated it as the capital of Upper Canada. During the War of 1812, the town was the site of the Battle of York and suffered heavy damage by U.S. troops.York was renamed and incorporated as the City of Toronto in 1834, and became the capital of the province of Ontario in 1867. The original borders of Toronto were expanded through amalgamation with surrounding municipalities at various times in its history, the results of which can been seen in the 140 independently unique and clearly defined official neighbourhoods that make up the city.
In the 2011 census, Toronto had a population of 2,615,060, making it the fourth most populous city in North America, after Mexico City, New York City, and Los Angeles. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is widely recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Toronto is a prominent centre for music, theatre, motion picture production, and television production, and is home to the headquarters of Canada's major national broadcast networks and media outlets. Its varied cultural institutions, which include numerous museums and galleries, festivals and public events, entertainment districts, national historic sites, and sports activities, are key attractions to the over 25 million tourists that visit the city each year. Toronto is well known for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere, the CN Tower. As Canada's commercial capital, the city is home to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the headquarters of Canada's five largest banks, and the headquarters of many large Canadian and multinational corporations. Its economy is highly diversified with strengths in technology, design, financial services, life sciences, education, arts, fashion, business services, environmental innovation, food services, and tourism. Toronto is placed among the Global Leaders in the Global Financial Centres Index, and is also consistently rated as one of the world's most liveable cities.