Orientation and quality of life
Canada's largest city and one of its southernmost, Toronto is located on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario. It is 641 sq km/247 sq mi. in area, with a population of 2.5 million in the city itself, and 5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Toronto is an expensive city. Rents are some of the highest in Canada, and real estate is some of the country's priciest. On the other hand, it is one of the safest cities in North America, and Toronto ranks high in livability studies. The Economist magazine ranked it fifth in the world for livability, while Mercer Human resource Consulting's 2009 report ranked Toronto 15th worldwide (and second within Canada) for overall quality of life.
Health care is one of the reasons Toronto scores so well. This city boasts the continent's fourth largest medical community and is home to world-class medical facilities and research institutions. Mount Sinai Hospital, as one example, is described in The Globe and Mail as one of the top teaching hospitals in north America and one of the most respected research institutions in the world.
Education also factors into Toronto's quality of life. The city is served by Canada's biggest school board, the Toronto District School Board, and three universities: The University of Toronto, known worldwide for its medical faculty and home of the country's highest-rated Department of Computer Science; Ryerson University, respected for its journalism program; and York University, recognized for its education faculty. Residents can also choose between four community colleges (Seneca, Humber, Centennial and George Brown), as well as the Ontario College of Art & Design, The Royal Conservatory of Music (which includes The Glenn Gould School), and The Canadian Film Centre.
The driving force behind Canada's economy, Toronto is the country's biggest employment center. It is also the nation's banking and investment capital and one of the continent's largest financial-services clusters, behind only New York and Los Angeles. Banking and financial services comprise the city's largest industry. Five of Canada's six largest banks have their headquarters near the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canada's busiest stock exchange and the world's seventh largest.
The technological heart of Canada, Toronto's information- and communication-technology industry annually contributes over $20 billion to the economy. Alliance Technologies, Bell Canada, Celestica, IBM Canada, Nortel, Motorola, Rogers, Sprint Canada, and Xerox Canada are all located here. In fact, there are more nationally and internationally top-ranked companies here than in any other Canadian city.
Toronto is also at the center of this country's printing and publishing industry: half of Canada's major magazines and newspapers are published here. This city is home to the headquarters of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC) English-language services, and is served by seven television stations and 27 radio stations. Other major industries include tourism, food and beverage, fashion, film, manufacturing, and aerospace.
Leisure options and visual appeal
New Toronto residents will also find a wealth of entertainment options, with over 50 ballet and dance companies, six opera companies and two symphony orchestras located here, including the national Ballet of Canada, the Canadian opera Company and Toronto Symphony orchestra. It is also an enormous theater center and active concert venue.
There is a multitude of museums and galleries, large and small, sprinkled across the city, showcasing everything from hockey history (Hockey Hall of Fame) to footwear throughout the ages (The Bata Shoe Museum). Most notable among them are The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), which is newly redesigned by award-winning architect Frank Gehry, and the royal ontario Museum, Canada's biggest.
Finally, there's Toronto's aesthetic appeal. This city's skyline is impressive - and instantly recognizable, defined as it is by the CN Tower. Although no longer the world's tallest freestanding structure (it was surpassed in 2007 by the Burj Dubai), at a height of 553.33 m/1,815 ft, it is still the tallest in the Western Hemisphere. Second only to New York City, Toronto boasts more than 2,000 buildings over 90 m/300 ft tall.
Even more impressive is the amount of green space there is to be found in the midst of all that concrete and glass. Over 1,500 parks cover 8,000 hectares/31 sq mi, while 90 km/56 mi of paved trails wind their way through the city. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority operates several conservation areas in the Toronto region, including two inside city limits. You will also find gardens and conservatories in all four corners of the city.
Toronto is a waterfront city, the jewel in Lake Ontario's crown. Once a wasteland of factories and warehouses, the waterfront, which spans about 50 km/31 mi, has been revitalized and now includes luxury condominiums, marina, open-air performance ventues and a Waterfront Trail that stretches from one end city to the other - ideal for walking, cycling and in-line skating. All in all, Toronto presents a comprehensive package for newcomers to embrace and enjoy.