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A map of the Greater Toronto Area with the City of Toronto and the four surrounding regional municipalities.

The Greater Toronto Area (locally abbreviated as the GTA) is the most populous metropolitan area in Canadamarker. The GTA is a provincial planning area in Southern Ontario with a population of almost 7 million, and consists of the City of Toronto and the surrounding regional municipalities of Durhammarker, Haltonmarker, Peelmarker and Yorkmarker.The entire region is part of the inner ring of Golden Horseshoe.

The Greater Toronto Area is the 7th largest metropolitan area in North America. The term GTA only came into use in the mid-1990s, after it was used in a widely discussed report on municipal governance restructuring in the region.

General information

The GTA consists of the City of Torontomarker and four regional municipalities in a total area of , which is approximately 10% larger than the state of Delawaremarker. Vast parts of the GTA remain farmland and forests, including protected sections of the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Parkmarker and the Niagara Escarpment. These areas include the Toronto ravine system, and the Greenbelt. Nevertheless, low-density suburban developments continue to be built, some on or near ecologically sensitive and protected areas.The government of Ontariomarker has recently attempted to address this issue through the "Places to Grow" proposal which emphasizes higher-density growth in existing urban centres over the next 25 years.

The work force is made up of approximately 2.9 million people, more than 100,000 companies, and a $109 billion gross domestic product. The GTA is Canada's business and manufacturing capital by a large margin. The GTA is home to a number of post-secondary educational institutions, including 4 universities and 7 colleges, most with multiple campuses.

The following regional municipalities are included in describing the Greater Toronto Area:

The population of this area is 5,555,912 as of 2006. The City of Torontomarker is a single-tier municipality, but before 1998 it had a similar "regional" structure under the name Metropolitan Toronto, and comprised of Toronto marker, Yorkmarker, North York, East Yorkmarker, Etobicokemarker and Scarboroughmarker. Originally, Toronto was called the City of Toronto, and the others were boroughs. Eventually, Etobicoke, Scarborough, York and North York were called "cities", though still part of the Toronto Municipal Government. Eventually, the idea of boroughs and cities was discarded and since 1998, there is one City of Toronto, with its northern border Steeles Avenue, and its southern border Lake Ontariomarker.

The City of Hamiltonmarker, Regional Municipality of Niagara and City of Guelphmarker all have significant ties to Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. They are not geographically distant enough to be considered separate from the GTA, officially or otherwise. In some cases the provincial government already includes Hamilton and Niagara as part of the GTA for record keeping purposes as well as for transportation planning.

In 2001, Statistics Canada identified four major urban regions exhibiting a cluster pattern of concentrated population growth. Among these regions, the Extended Golden Horseshoe Census Region includes all of the Greater Toronto Area (which includes Oshawa), as well as other Southern Ontario cities including Niagara, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo and Barrie. Combined, the Extended Golden Horseshoe has a population of 8,116,000 in 2006, containing approximately 25% of Canada's population.

The GTA is projected to have 7.7 million residents by 2025.

Toronto CMA

Some municipalities that are considered part of the GTA are not within Torontomarker's Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) whose land area (5,904 km² in 2006) and population (5,113,149 as of the 2006 census) is thus smaller than the land area and population of the GTA planning area. For example, Oshawamarker, which is the centre of its own CMA, or Burlingtonmarker, which is included in the Hamilton CMA are both deemed part of the Greater Toronto Area. Other municipalities, such as New Tecumseth in southern Simcoe County and Mono Township in Dufferin Countymarker are included in the Toronto CMA but not in the GTA. These different border configurations result in the GTA's population being higher than the Toronto CMA by nearly one-half million people, often leading to confusion amongst people when trying to sort out the urban population of Toronto.

Other nearby urban areas, such as Hamiltonmarker, Barriemarker or St. Catharines-Niagara and Kitchener-Waterloo are not part of the GTA or the Toronto CMA, but form their own CMAs that are in fairly close proximity to the GTA (all within one hour's drive to downtown Toronto). Ultimately, all the aforementioned places are part of the Golden Horseshoe metropolitan region, an urban agglomeration, which is the sixth most populous in North America. When the Hamilton, Oshawa and Toronto CMAs are agglomerated with Brock and Scugog, they have a population of 6,170,072.

Area codes

The Greater Toronto Area is served by seven distinct area codes. Before 1993, the GTA used the 416 area codemarker. In a 1993 zone split, the City of Toronto retained the 416 code, while the rest of the Greater Toronto Area was assigned the new area code 905. This division by area code has become part of the local culture to the point where local media refer to something inside Toronto as "the 416" and outside of Toronto as "the 905". Though for the most part this was correct, it is not entirely true as some portions of Durham and York Regions use the 705 area code, and some portions of Halton and Peel Regions use the 519 area code. Furthermore, there are areas, such as the Regional Municipality of Niagara, Ontario and Port Hope, Ontario that use the 905 area code, but are not part of the GTA.

To meet the increased demand for phone numbers, two overlay area codes were introduced in 2001. Area code 647 (supplementing the 416 area code) was introduced in March 2001 and area code 289 (supplementing the 905 area code) was introduced in July 2001. In 2006, area code 226 was created as an overlay, supplementing the 519 area code. As well, individuals within the 905 area code region may have to dial long distance to reach each other; although residents of Mississauga and Hamilton share the same area code (905), an individual from Toronto, for example, would have to dial "1" (long distance code before 905) to reach Hamilton, but not to reach Mississauga. Ten-digit telephone dialling, including the area code for local calls, is required throughout the GTA region.


Most of the GTA is served by GO Transit, a regional transportation authority that connects Toronto's suburban areas to its downtown. In addition, a number of local agencies provide public transportation services within their jurisdictions. These agencies are largely independent, although provision is being made to integrate them under the Greater Toronto Transit Authority (GTTA), which was renamed as Metrolinx. They will utilize the new 'Presto card', which allows for seamless connection between these and other transit operators.

A list of public transit operators in the GTA:

The GTA also has the largest and busiest freeway network in Canada, consisting mainly of 400-Series Highways and supplemented by municipal expressways. A list of major roadways in the GTA:

The main airport serving the GTA is Toronto Pearson International Airportmarker in Mississauga. John C.marker Munro Hamilton International Airportmarker in nearby Hamiltonmarker also handles international flights, while Billy Bishop Toronto City Airportmarker on Toronto Islandmarker serves flights to nearby regions.


There has been a growing tension between Toronto and the surrounding GTA area since the mid 1990s, with Toronto complaining that it has been economically exploited by its neighbours. The election of the Harris government was attributed to his support base in the suburban "905" region. During his time in office, many provincial services were downloaded to the municipal level, which caused great financial strain on an already indebted city. Although the succeeding McGuinty government has attempted to address this imbalance, Torontonians feel that his attempts are half-hearted because McGuinty also had significant "905" support during his 2003 election victory.

Most of the "905" municipalities have few cultural institutions, despite their significant populations. For instance, Mississaugamarker is one of the largest cities in Canada by population (at nearly 750,000) but has no television stations, or commercial radio stations (though the city does have CFBN-AM, a business and airport/traffic station, CJMR-AM, a multicultural independent, and CFRE-FM, the local campus radio station). Despite having attracted significant investment over the last few decades (particularly from high-tech computing firms, such as Microsoft Canada), the surrounding cities are still considered bedroom suburbs of Toronto, rather than independent municipalities, and as a result many are virtually unknown outside of Ontario. Prior to the municipal amalgamations that took place with the introduction of regional government, Oshawamarker was the only nearby city with a significant population and recognition.

Despite the political tensions between the city and its neighbouring regions, the groups have managed to cooperate with one another, through interregional public authorities such as Metrolinx, which manages the interregional transit system, GO Transit system, as well as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which manages the conservations in the area. Officials from the City of Toronto, Peel Region, York Region as well as the City of Hamilton had also previously met to discuss interregional affairs in the Greater Toronto Services Board. However, with the lack of real political power, the board ceased to exist in 2001. The municipal and regional governments, as well as local businesses in the region have also created a public-private partnership known as the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance to help with the overall growth of the GTA.


Name Total area (km²) Population Density
Province of Ontariomarker 1,076,395 13,425,124 13.8 /km2
City of Torontomarker 630 2,503,281 3,972/km2
Regional Municipality of Durhammarker 2523 561,258 222.4/km2
Regional Municipality of Peelmarker 796 1,159,405 933.2/km2
Regional Municipality of Yorkmarker 1,762 892,712 506.7/km2
Regional Municipality of Haltonmarker 967.17 439,526 454.45/km2
Greater Toronto Area 5,555,912

Language Toronto Ontariomarker Canadamarker
English 56.2% 69.8% 58.4%
Italian 3.8% 2.5% 1.5%
Unspecified Chinese 3.5% 1.8% 1.5%
Cantonese 3.4% 1.5% 1.2%
Punjabi 2.7% 1.3% 1.2%
Tagalog 2.2% 1.1% 0.9%
Portuguese 2.2% 1.4% 0.7%
Spanish 2.2% 1.4% 1.2%
Urdu 2.1% 1.0% 0.5%
Tamil 1.9% 0.9% 0.4%
Polish 1.6% 1.2% 0.7%
French 1.4% 4.4% 22.3%
Russian 1.3% 0.7% 0.4%
Persian 1.3% 0.7% 0.4%
Mandarin 1.3% 0.6% 0.6%
Arabic 1.2% 1.0% 0.9%
Gujarati 1.1% 0.5% 0.3%

See also


  1. Population and land area figures for Toronto and the regional municipalities come from the 2006 Canadian census: [1].
  3. [2]
  4. The constituent CMAs are Toronto (5,113,149), Hamilton (692,911), Oshawa (330,594), Brock(11,979) and Scugog(21,439) for a total agglomerated population of 6,170,072.

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