Toronto is the most populous city in Canada, the provincial capital of Ontario, and the centre of the Greater Toronto Area, the most populous metropolitan area in Canada. Growing in population as of 2015, the population is now estimated at 2,826,498, making Toronto the fourth-largest city in North America based on the population within its city limits. Toronto trails only Mexico City, New York City, and Los Angeles by this measure, while it is the fifth-largest (behind also Chicago) if ranked by the size of its metropolitan area. An established global city,Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and widely recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.
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 broadly disputed Toronto Purchase with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation that saw the surrender of their ancestral lands to the British Crown. 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 be seen in the 140 independently unique and clearly defined official neighbourhoods that make up the city.
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. Toronto is one of the world's most diverse cities, as about 49% of residents belong to a visible minority population group, and over 200 distinct ethnic origins represented among its inhabitants. The cosmopolitan 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.
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.