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Calgary

Calgary stands at the point where the vast Canadian prairie meets the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Its young, glittering skyscrapers rise out of older suburban neighbourhoods and seem oddly superimposed on this breathtakingly diverse western landscape, as though dropped from the sky onto the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. Accordingly, the land is never far from the minds of the people of Calgary. 

Situated on the Bow River in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, approximately 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The city is located in the grassland and parkland natural regions of Alberta. As of the 2011 census, the City of Calgary had a population of 1,096,833 and a metropolitan population of 1,214,839, making it the largest city in Alberta, and the third-largest municipality and fifth-largest metropolitan area in Canada.

Located 294 km south of Edmonton, Statistics Canada defines the area between these cities as the "Calgary–Edmonton Corridor." Economic activity in Calgary is mostly centred on the petroleum industry and agriculture. In 1988, Calgary became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Winter Games.

Calgary has ranked fairly high in some Mercer Quality of Living Surveys, from 25th place in 2006 to 32nd place for 2012. Calgary was ranked as the world's cleanest city by Forbes Magazine in 2007. Also, Mercer ranked Calgary as the world's top eco-city for 2010. More recently, the latest 2012 and 2013 report from the Economist Intelligence Unit said Calgary was tied for fifth-best place, with Adelaide, to live in the world. In addition, Money Senses's "Best Places to Live in Canada for 2013" study, ranks Calgary as the number one best city overall.

History

The oil boom

Oil was first discovered in Alberta in 1902, but it did not become a significant industry in the province until 1947 when huge reserves of it were discovered. Calgary quickly found itself at the centre of the ensuing oil boom. The city's economy grew when oil prices increased with the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973. The population increased by 272,000 in the eighteen years between 1971 (403,000) and 1989 (675,000) and another 345,000 in the next eighteen years (to 1,020,000 in 2007). During these boom years, skyscrapers were constructed and the relatively low-rise downtown quickly became dense with tall buildings, a trend that continues to this day.

Calgary's economy was so closely tied to the oil industry that the city's boom peaked with the average annual price of oil in 1981. The subsequent drop in oil prices were cited by industry as reasons for a collapse in the oil industry and consequently the overall Calgary economy. Low oil prices prevented a full recovery until the 1990s.

Recent history

With the energy sector employing a huge number of Calgarians, the fallout from the economic slump of the early 1980s was understandably significant, and the unemployment rate soared. By the end of the decade, however, the economy was in recovery. Calgary quickly realized that it could not afford to put so much emphasis on oil and gas, and the city has since become much more diverse, both economically and culturally. The period during this recession marked Calgary's transition from a mid-sized and relatively nondescript prairie city into a major cosmopolitan and diverse centre. This transition culminated in the city hosting Canada's first Winter Olympics in 1988. The success of these Games essentially put the city on the world stage.

Thanks in part to escalating oil prices, the economy in Calgary and Alberta was booming until the end of 2008, and the region of nearly 1.1 million people was home to the fastest growing economy in the country. While the oil and gas industry comprise an important part of the economy, the city has invested a great deal into other areas such as tourism and high-tech manufacturing. Over 3.1 million people now visit the city annually for its many festivals and attractions, especially the Calgary Stampede. The nearby mountain resort towns of Banff, Lake Louise, and Canmore are also becoming increasingly popular with tourists, and are bringing people into Calgary as a result. Other modern industries include light manufacturing, high-tech, film, e-commerce, transportation, and services.

Widespread flooding throughout southern Alberta, including on the Bow and Elbow rivers, forced the evacuation of over 75,000 city residents on June 21, 2013 and left large areas of the city, including downtown, without power.

Geography

Calgary is located at the transition zone between the Canadian Rockies foothills and the Canadian Prairies. The city lies within the foothills parkland natural subregion of the parkland natural region and the foothills fescue subregion of the grasslands natural region. Calgary's elevation is approximately 1,048 m (3,438 ft) above sea level downtown, and 1,084 m (3,557 ft) at the airport. The city proper covers a land area of 726.5 km2 (280.5 sq mi) (as of 2006) and as such exceeds the land area of the City of Toronto.

There are two major rivers that run through the city. The Bow River is the largest and flows from the west to the south. The Elbow River flows northwards from the south until it converges with the Bow River near downtown. Since the climate of the region is generally dry, dense vegetation occurs naturally only in the river valleys, on some north-facing slopes, and within Fish Creek Provincial Park.

The city is large in physical area, consisting of an inner city surrounded by communities of various density. Unlike most cities with a sizeable metropolitan area, most of Calgary's suburbs are incorporated into the city proper, with the notable exceptions of the City of Airdrie to the north, Cochrane to the northwest, Strathmore to the east, and the Springbank and Bearspaw acreages to the west. Though it is not technically within Calgary's metropolitan area, the Town of Okotoks is only a short distance to the south and is considered a suburb as well. The Calgary Economic Region includes slightly more area than the CMA and has a population of 1,251,600 in 2008.

The city has undertaken numerous land annexation procedures over the years to keep up with growth; the most recent was completed in July 2007 and saw the city annex the neighbouring hamlet of Shepard, and place its boundaries adjacent to the hamlet of Balzac and within very short distances of the City of Airdrie and Town of Chestermere. Despite this proximity, there are presently no plans for Calgary to annex either Airdrie or Chestermere, and in fact Chestermere's administration has a growth plan in the works that calls for it annexing the intervening land between the town and Calgary.

The City of Calgary is immediately surrounded by two municipal districts, Rocky View County to the north, west and east; and Foothills No. 31 to the south.

Climate

Calgary experiences a dry humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 3a) with , cold, dry, but highly variable winters and moderately warm summers. The climate is greatly influenced by the city's elevation and proximity to the Rocky Mountains. Calgary's winters can be uncomfortably cold, but warm, dry Chinook winds routinely blow into the city from over the mountains during the winter months, giving Calgarians a break from the cold. These winds have been known to raise the winter temperature by 20 °C (36 °F) in just a few hours, and may last several days.

Calgary is a city of extremes, and temperatures have ranged anywhere from a record low of −45 °C (−49.0 °F) in 1893 to a record high of 36.1 °C (97.0 °F) in 1919. According to Environment Canada, average daytime high temperatures in Calgary range from 24 °C (75 °F) in late July to −3 °C (27 °F) in mid-January.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/Chinook_Arch-Calgary.JPG

As a consequence of Calgary's high elevation and aridity, summer evenings can be cool. The average summer minimum temperature drops to 8 °C (46 °F). Calgary may experience summer daytime temperatures exceeding 29 °C (84 °F) anytime in June, July and August, and occasionally as late as September or as early as May. With an average relative humidity of 55% in the winter and 45% in the summer (15:00 MST), Calgary has a dry climate similar to other cities in the western Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Unlike cities further east such as Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa or even Winnipeg, humidity is rarely a factor during the Calgary summer.[citation needed]

Calgary has the most sunny days year round of Canada's 100-largest cities, with just over 332 days of sun. The city is among the sunniest in Canada, with 2,405 hours of annual sunshine, on average. Calgary International Airport in the northeastern section of the city receives an average of 412.6 mm (16.24 in) of precipitation annually, with 320.6 mm (12.62 in) of that occurring in the form of rain, and 126.7 mm (4.99 in) as snow. Most of the precipitation occurs from May to August, with June averaging the most monthly rainfall. In June 2005, Calgary received 248 mm (9.8 in) of precipitation, making it the wettest month in the city's recorded history. Droughts are not uncommon and may occur at any time of the year, lasting sometimes for months or even several years. Precipitation decreases somewhat from west to east; consequently, groves of trees on the western outskirts largely give way to treeless grassland around the eastern city limit.

Located in southern Alberta, Calgary can endure several cold spells in most winters. Conversely, Calgary can experience several warm spells above average temperatures due to chinook winds. Snow depths of greater than 1 cm (0.39 in) are seen on about 88 days each year in Calgary. However, snowfall (and temperatures) can vary considerably throughout the Calgary region – mostly due to the elevation changes, and proximity to the mountains. The town of High River (37 km (23 mi) south of Calgary) receives on average 42 cm (17 in) more snow a year than at the Calgary Airport in north-east Calgary. Temperatures tend to be slightly warmer in the southern areas of Calgary as well.

Calgary averages more than 22 days a year with thunderstorms, with most all of them occurring in the summer months. Calgary lies on the edge of Alberta's hailstorm alley and is prone to damaging hailstorms every few years. A hailstorm that struck Calgary on September 7, 1991, was one of the most destructive natural disasters in Canadian history, with over $400 million in damage. Being west of the dry line on most occasions, tornadoes are rare in the region.

 Information and images courtesy of wikipedia.org


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