Vancouver's stable economy, high living standard, and cosmopolitan nature make it consistently rank among the world's most livable cities. As the fourth most densely populated city in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in Canada, Vancouver is a huge city with much to offer the intrepid tourist.
The tall glass and steel structures dotting its downtown area give Vancouver a metropolitan atmosphere not seen elsewhere in Canada. Many of these structures are designed as modernist high-rises, giving the city the character of a bustling metropolis – you will find many beautiful Edwardian and Neoclassical buildings as well, each imparting a special element to the city's overall character.
As the western terminus of Canada's transcontinental railways and highways, Vancouver is one of the country's largest and most active industrial centers. It also operates Canada's largest and most diversified port – but the city's most powerful native industry is forestry. Next to that rank tourism and movie production – the latter of which has earned it the nickname, "Hollywood North".
Part of what makes Vancouver such an attractive tourist destination is its scenic location. The mountains, ocean, forests, and parklands surrounding the city offer a unique natural beauty not found in the proximity of any other world-class city in the area. Every year, more than a million people pass through Vancouver on cruise ship vacations towards Alaska.
Vancouver is split into three sections – the Westside, East Van, and the City Centre. The metropolitan area includes the entirely separate cities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver located north of the Burrard Inlet, as well as at least ten other districts further to the east and south of the city proper. When giving or taking directions, keep the difference between "Westside" and "West Vancouver" in mind.
While Canada has a reputation for cold, Vancouver is one of the country's warmest winter cities. Snow only falls on an average of 11 days per year, but the rainy season between November and March can be a significantly wet one. Vancouver summers are mild, giving the city a generally pleasant year-round climate.