Calgary is a city in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is situated at the confluence of the Bow River and the Elbow River in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, approximately 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. As of the 2011 census, the City of Calgary had a population of 1,096,833 and a metropolitan population of 1,214,839, making it the largest city in Alberta, and the third-largest municipality and fifth-largest metropolitan area in Canada.
The city is recognized as an economic leader within Canada. The economy of Calgary includes Energy, Financial Services, Film and TV, Transportation and Logistics, Technology, Manufacturing, Aerospace, Health and Wellness, Retail, and Tourism sectors.
Located 294 km (183 mi) south of Edmonton, Statistics Canada defines the area between these cities as the “Calgary–Edmonton Corridor.” In 1988, Calgary became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Winter Games.
With the energy sector employing a huge number of Calgarians, the fallout from the economic slump of the early 1980s was understandably significant, and the unemployment rate soared. By the end of the decade, however, the economy was in recovery. Calgary quickly realized that it could not afford to put so much emphasis on oil and gas, and the city has since become much more diverse, both economically and culturally. The period during this recession marked Calgary’s transition from a mid-sized and relatively nondescript prairie city into a major cosmopolitan and diverse centre. This transition culminated in the city hosting Canada’s first Winter Olympics in 1988. The success of these Games essentially put the city on the world stage.
Thanks in part to escalating oil prices, the economy in Calgary and Alberta was booming until the end of 2009, and the region of nearly 1.1 million people was home to the fastest growing economy in the country. While the oil and gas industry comprise an important part of the economy, the city has invested a great deal into other areas such as tourism and high-tech manufacturing. Over 3.1 million people now visit the city annually for its many festivals and attractions, especially the Calgary Stampede. The nearby mountain resort towns of Banff, Lake Louise, and Canmore are also becoming increasingly popular with tourists, and are bringing people into Calgary as a result. Other modern industries include light manufacturing, high-tech, film, e-commerce, transportation, and services.
Widespread flooding throughout southern Alberta, including on the Bow and Elbow rivers, forced the evacuation of over 75,000 city residents on June 21, 2013 and left large areas of the city, including downtown, without power.
Calgary is located at the transition zone between the Canadian Rockies foothills and the Canadian Prairies. The city lies within the foothills of the Parkland Natural Region and the Grasslands Natural Region. Calgary’s elevation is approximately 1,048 m (3,438 ft) above sea level downtown, and 1,084 m (3,557 ft) at the airport. The city proper covers a land area of 726.5 km2 (280.5 sq mi) (as of 2006) and as such exceeds the land area of the City of Toronto.
There are two major rivers that run through the city. The Bow River is the largest and flows from the west to the south. The Elbow River flows northwards from the south until it converges with the Bow River near downtown. Since the climate of the region is generally dry, dense vegetation occurs naturally only in the river valleys, on some north-facing slopes, and within Fish Creek Provincial Park.
The city is large in physical area, consisting of an inner city surrounded by communities of various density. Unlike most cities with a sizeable metropolitan area, most of Calgary’s suburbs are incorporated into the city proper, with the notable exceptions of the City of Airdrie to the north, Cochrane to the northwest, Strathmore to the east, and the Springbank and Bearspaw acreages to the west. Though it is not technically within Calgary’s metropolitan area, the Town of Okotoks is only a short distance to the south and is considered a suburb as well. The Calgary Economic Region includes slightly more area than the CMA and has a population of 1,251,600 in 2008.
The city has undertaken numerous land annexation procedures over the years to keep up with growth; the most recent was completed in July 2007 and saw the city annex the neighbouring hamlet of Shepard, and place its boundaries adjacent to the hamlet of Balzac and Town of Chestermere, and within a very short distance of the City of Airdrie. Despite this proximity, there are presently no plans for Calgary to annex either Airdrie or Chestermere, and in fact Chestermere’s administration has a growth plan in the works that calls for it annexing the intervening land between the town and Calgary.
The City of Calgary is immediately surrounded by two municipal districts, Rocky View County to the north, west and east; and Foothills No. 31 to the south.