The Vancouver area has been inhabited from between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago. The first Europeans in the area who have been satisfactorily documented landed in the Vancouver area in 1791. The city eventually gained its name from George Vancouver, a British explorer who beat the original Spanish explorers to the area where Vancouver now stands in 1792. The area remained largely unpopulated for over half a century, and the influx of the Fraser Gold Rush largely bypassed Vancouver in favour of other nearby settlements. The first settlement in present-day Vancouver was established in 1862. The following year, a sawmill was established in nearby Moodyville. Another mill was established in the area in 1867, which would ultimately provide the catalyst for the formation of what would be called Vancouver. The new city, called Gastown, began to swell, and by the 1870s was established as a town by the colonial government and given the name Granville. In 1884 it was selected as the terminus for the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which was in the process of being constructed and, when completed, would stretch from sea to sea. Two years later, the railroad was completed, and the City of Vancouver was officially incorporated. Several months later, a majority of the burgeoning city was razed to the ground by the Great Vancouver Fire, which claimed dozens of lives and all but a few of the buildings. The city bounced back, however, and continued to grow at an accelerated rate; the Port of Vancouver quickly became an important hub of trade for the entire British Empire, and the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 brought hundreds of prospectors through Vancouver, bringing with them lucrative trade for the city's merchants. By the turn of the century the city's population had swelled from just 5,000 at the time of incorporation to almost 100,000. By 1929 the city was amalgamated with South Vancouver and Port Grey, establishing the city's final boundaries.
As industrialists interests in the region swelled, so too did an increasingly vocal workers' movement, which fought for unionization. These tensions characterized the next several decades in Vancouver, while the economy underwent a series of devastating downturns, and culminated in a number of strikes which themselves resulted in the On-to-Ottawa Trek in 1935, a parade of unemployed men who attempted to march to Ottawa to protest the working environment in Vancouver. They were unsuccessful, and their march was put down violently, though they did succeed in drawing national attention to their plight. Vancouver was also a hotspot for other social movements, including the feminist movement and the temperance movement. During the Second World War racial tensions, which had always been high between the Caucasian and Asian inhabitants of the city, reached a boiling point in 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Most of Vancouver's Japanese population was interned in the interior under the belief that they might sabotage the war effort. Following the war, the Japanese citizens were allowed to return to Vancouver, though many had lost their homes and possessions. After the war the city continued to expand, and several bridges were built connecting various parts of the city. The Greater Vancouver Regional District, which contains Vancouver and surrounding districts, was incorporated in 1967. Over the next several decades Vancouver continued to grow as a metropolitan centre, with the addition of a new airport, a new airport, the first domed stadium in Canada, Science World, Canada Place and the Plaza of Nations over the next few decades, the last three of which were constructed for Expo 86. The 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver.
Vancouver is the third largest city in Canada, the greater metropolitan area currently has a population of just over 2.3 million people, 643,000 of whom live in the city proper. A small majority of the population, about 36%, list their ethnic origin as British. About 28% list their origin as East or Southeast Asian. Small portions of the population also describe their origin as North American, European, South Asian, French, Aboriginal, South American, West Asian or African. The largest proportion of the city reports having no religious affiliation, with just over 42% listing this. A further 42% lists some denomination of Christian. The next largest religious population, with just under 7% of the population, is Buddhism. There are also small populations of Sikhs, Jews, Muslims and Hindus. There are also adherents of "other religions," who collectively make up less than 1% of the population.
Vancouver is located in the province of British Columbia, which lies between the Pacific Ocean to the west and Alberta to the east. It lies in the south of British Columbia, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It covers just under 115 square kilometres. It contains a number of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods that reflect the highly multicultural makeup of the city. Notable neighbourhoods include South Granville, Chinatown, Punjabi Market, Kerrisdale, and Greektown.
Vancouver is well-known as a city in which many television shows, such as Dead Like Me, Human Target, and Smallville, and movies, such as Elektra, Watchmen, and the X-Men trilogy, are filmed. As a widely known city, it often features in media.