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Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census: Immigrants in metropolitan areas

Vast majority of immigrants chose city life

Unlike immigrants who arrived years ago in search of good farmland to till, today's immigrants are mostly urban dwellers. In fact, they are much more likely to live in a metropolitan area than the Canadian-born population.

In 2006, 94.9% of Canada's foreign-born population and 97.2% of recent immigrants who landed in the last five years lived in either a census metropolitan area or a census agglomeration, i.e., urban community. This compares with 77.5% of the Canadian-born population.

Conversely, only 5.1% of the immigrant population lived in a rural area in 2006, compared with 22.5% of the Canadian-born population.

Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver home to nearly two-thirds of Canada's foreign-born population

Canada's three largest census metropolitan areas — Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver — were home to 3,891,800 foreign-born people in 2006, who made up nearly two-thirds (62.9%) of Canada's total foreign-born population.

In contrast, these three urban areas were home to slightly more than one-quarter (27.1%) of the Canadian-born population.

The 2006 Census enumerated 2,320,200 foreign-born people in Toronto, 831,300 in Vancouver and 740,400 in Montréal. These individuals represented 45.7% of Toronto's population, 39.6% of Vancouver's and 20.6% of Montréal's.

Immigration has been the major factor in the population growth of these three census metropolitan areas.

Toronto and Vancouver led major cities in Australia and the United States in terms of the proportion of its population born outside the country. Toronto's and Vancouver's closest competitors were Miami, Florida, where 36.5% of the population was foreign-born, and Los Angeles, California, where the proportion was 34.7%.

Figure 4 Foreign-born as a percentage of metropolitan population, 2006

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