Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.
Appendix 2006 Geographic areas
The 2006 geographic areas, for which census data are disseminated, vary greatly in how they are defined and delineated. The diagram 2006 Census geographic hierarchy, located at the bottom of this page, illustrates the relationship between these different levels of geography. The goal of the 2006 Census geography structure is to provide an exhaustive set of geographic areas to meet the maximum number of client needs. Detailed definitions of geographic concepts are available in the 2006 Census Dictionary and 2006 Illustrated Glossary.
Definition of geographic areas
Each geographic area is defined by a certain set of criteria. Some are defined by their population and others by federal and provincial legislation, by commuting patterns, or by road networks. The following sections describe the definitions and relationships within census levels of geography.
- Census agricultural region
Census agricultural regions (CARs) are composed of groups of adjacent census divisions.
In Saskatchewan, census agricultural regions are made up of groups of adjacent census consolidated subdivisions, but these groups do not necessarily respect census division boundaries.
- Census consolidated subdivision
A census consolidated subdivision (CCS) is a group of adjacent census subdivisions. Generally, the smaller, more urban census subdivisions (towns, villages, etc.) are combined with the surrounding, larger, more rural census subdivision, in order to create a geographic level between the census subdivision and the census division.
- Census division
Census division (CD) is the general term for provincially legislated areas (such as county, municipalité régionale de comté and regional district) or their equivalents. Census divisions are intermediate geographic areas between the province/territory level and the municipality (census subdivision).
- Census metropolitan area and census agglomeration
A census metropolitan area (CMA) or a census agglomeration (CA) is formed by one or more adjacent municipalities centred on a large urban area (known as the urban core). A census metropolitan area must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more must live in the urban core. A census agglomeration must have an urban core population of at least 10,000. To be included in the census metropolitan area or census agglomeration, other adjacent municipalities must have a high degree of integration with the central urban area, as measured by commuting flows derived from census place of work data.
If the population of the urban core of a census agglomeration declines below 10,000, the CA is retired. However, once an area becomes a census metropolitan area, it is retained as a CMA even if its total population declines below 100,000 or the population of its urban core falls below 50,000. The urban areas in the census metropolitan area or census agglomeration that are not contiguous to the urban core are called the urban fringe. Rural areas in the CMA or CA are called the rural fringe.
When a census agglomeration has an urban core of at least 50,000, it is subdivided into census tracts. Census tracts are maintained for the CA even if the population of the urban core subsequently falls below 50,000. All census metropolitan areas are subdivided into census tracts.
There are several rules associated with the delineation of these areas as outlined in the working document Preliminary 2006 Census Metropolitan Area and Census Agglomeration Delineation.
- Census subdivision
Census subdivision (CSD) is the general term for municipalities (as determined by provincial/territorial legislation) or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes (e.g., Indian reserves, Indian settlements and unorganized territories).
- Census tract
Census tracts (CTs) are small, relatively stable geographic areas that usually have a population of 2,500 to 8,000. They are located in census metropolitan areas and in census agglomerations with an urban core population of 50,000 or more in the previous census.
A committee of local specialists (for example, planners, health and social workers, and educators) initially delineates census tracts in conjunction with Statistics Canada. Once a census metropolitan area (CMA) or census agglomeration (CA) has been subdivided into census tracts, the census tracts are maintained even if the urban core population subsequently declines below 50,000.
- Designated place
A designated place (DPL) is normally a small community or settlement that does not meet the criteria established by Statistics Canada to be a census subdivision (an area with municipal status) or an urban area.
Designated places are created by provinces and territories, in cooperation with Statistics Canada, to provide data for submunicipal areas.
- Dissemination area
A dissemination area (DA) is a small geographic area composed of one or more adjacent dissemination blocks. DAs cover all the territory of Canada.
- Dissemination block
A dissemination block (DB) is an area bounded on all sides by roads and/or boundaries of standard geographic areas. The dissemination block is the smallest geographic area for which population and dwelling counts are disseminated. Dissemination blocks cover all the territory of Canada.
- Economic region
An economic region (ER) is a grouping of complete census divisions (CDs) (with one exception in Ontario) created as a standard geographic unit for analysis of regional economic activity.
- Federal electoral district
A federal electoral district (FED) is an area represented by a member of the House of Commons.
The federal electoral district boundaries used for the 2006 Census are based on the 2003 Representation Order.
Locality (LOC) refers to the historical place names of former census subdivisions (municipalities), former designated places and former urban areas, as well as to the names of other entities, such as neighbourhoods, post offices, communities and unincorporated places.
- Place name
Place name refers to the set of names that includes current census subdivisions (municipalities), current designated places and current urban areas, as well as the names of localities.
Province and territory refer to the major political units of Canada. From a statistical point of view, province and territory are basic areas for which data are tabulated. Canada is divided into 10 provinces and three territories.
- Rural area
Rural areas include all territory lying outside urban areas. Taken together, urban and rural areas cover all of Canada.
The rural population includes all population living in the rural fringes of census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs), as well as population living in rural areas outside CMAs and CAs.
- Statistical area classification
The Statistical Area Classification (SAC) groups census subdivisions according to whether they are a component of a census metropolitan area, a census agglomeration, a census metropolitan area and census agglomeration influenced zone (strong MIZ, moderate MIZ, weak MIZ or no MIZ), or the territories (Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut). The SAC is used for data dissemination purposes.
- Urban area
An urban area has a minimum population concentration of 1,000 persons and a population density of at least 400 persons per square kilometre, based on the current census population count. All territory outside urban areas is classified as rural. Taken together, urban and rural areas cover all of Canada.
Urban population includes all population living in the urban cores, secondary urban cores and urban fringes of census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and census agglomerations (CAs), as well as the population living in urban areas outside CMAs and CAs.
- Urban core, urban fringe and rural fringe
Urban core, urban fringe and rural fringe distinguish between central and peripheral urban and rural areas within a census metropolitan area (CMA) or census agglomeration (CA).
Urban core is a large urban area around which a census metropolitan area or a census agglomeration is delineated. The urban core must have a population (based on the previous census) of at least 50,000 persons in the case of a CMA, or at least 10,000 persons in the case of a CA.
The urban core of a census agglomeration that has been merged with an adjacent census metropolitan area or larger CA is called the 'secondary urban core'.
Urban fringe includes all small urban areas within a census metropolitan area or census agglomeration that are not contiguous with the urban core of the CMA or CA.
Rural fringe is all territory within a census metropolitan area or census agglomeration not classified as an urban core or an urban fringe.
2006 Census geographic hierarchy
Source: Statistics Canada, Illustrated glossary (92-195-XWE), http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/92-195-x/92-195-x2011001-eng.htm, October 2008.
- Date modified: