Nestled on the banks of the majestic Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau Rivers, Ottawa, the capital of Canada is one of the most beautiful G8 capitals in the world. Ottawa is the fourth largest city in Canada with a population of approximately 1.2 million residents. It is also the home of government organizations such as the Government of Canada, Parliament, the Senate and the Supreme Court of Canada. A thriving international technology and business centre and world class tourism and convention destination, Ottawa is also rich in culture and heritage with its many national institutions, parklands, waterways and historic architecture. It is home to a large number of foreign embassies and is a recognized centre for both academics and professional training. The region’s six universities and colleges, plus numerous technology institutes and professional schools create a highly integrated and flexible education and training delivery system. In addition, a number of world-class events are hosted in Ottawa to support specialized and advanced learning. With the highest-educated workforce in Canada, Ottawa has more engineers, scientists and PhDs per capita than any other city in the country. Due to the highest-educated workforce in Canada, Ottawa has a high standard of living and low unemployment.
In 1826, Ottawa was known as Bytown and was incorporated in 1855 as "Ottawa". The name "Ottawa" is derived from the Algonquin word "adawe" which means "to trade".
Initially an Irish and French Christian settlement, Ottawa is now a multicultural city with a diverse population. It is situated on the south bank of the Ottawa River and contains the mouths of the Rideau River and Canal. The older part of the city is known as Lower Town which is the area between the canal and the rivers. Centretown and Downtown Ottawa lie to the west of the Canal. The Downtown core is the city's financial and commercial area.
As of 29 June 2007, the Rideau Canal, which stretches 202 km to Kingston, Fort Henry and four Martello towers in the Kingston area was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ottawa and Gatineau rivers were historically important in the logging and lumber industries and the Rideau as part of the Rideau Canal system for military, commercial and, subsequently, recreational purposes. The Rideau Canal, connecting the Ottawa River and the Saint Lawrence River at Kingston, Ontario, by-passes unnavigable sections of the Rideau River as it winds its way through the city. During part of the winter season the frozen waters of the canal form the world's largest skating rink. This 7.8 kilometer skating rink provides winter skating transportation and recreation between the downtown core to Carleton University, Dow's Lake, the Rideau Centre and the National Arts Centre.
The National Capital Region also incorporates the city of Gatineau which is directly across the Ottawa River in Quebec. The National Capital Commission has significant land holdings in both cities, including sites of historical and touristic importance. The NCC, through its responsibility for planning and development of these lands, is an important contributor to both cities. Around the main urban area is an extensive greenbelt, administered by the National Capital Commission for conservation and leisure, and comprising mostly forest, farmland and marshland.
The city offers an open and welcoming environment to cultures from around the world, providing service in English, French, and a host of other languages. The city’s residents enjoy an enviable quality of life that is recognized around the world.