Montreal is a city in the province of Quebec on the Island of Montreal in Canada. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, the largest in the province and the 9th largest city in North America with an estimated population of 1.75 million as of 2016.
Recent Population Counts
Montreal's population growth has been slow, and its previous 2014 population of 1.75 million is little changed from the 2011 census figure of 1.65 million. The urban agglomeration -- which includes all municipalities on the Island of Montreal -- has an estimated population of 1.95 million. The Montreal Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) has a population of 4.06 million.
City Size and Population Density
The city proper has a population density of 4,517 people per square kilometer (11,701 residents per square mile), while the metro area has a density of 898 people per square kilometer (2,326 residents per square mile). The surface area of the city comes to a total of 431.50 kilometers squared (166.60 square miles).
Montreal Population Demographics
The largest ethnic groups are those of European origins. The largest European ancestries in Montreal include French (26%), Italian (7%), Irish (6%), English (4%), Scottish (3%) and Spanish (2%).
About 31% of the Montreal population belong to a visible minority, up dramatically from just 5% in 1981. The most common visible minorities are black (9.1%), Arab (6.4%), Latin Americans (4.2%), South Asians (3.3%) and Chinese (2.9%).
French is the official and primary language of Montreal and the most common language spoken at home as Quebecois French by 57% of the population, followed by English (18.5%) and other languages (20%). Montreal is one of the most bilingual cities in Quebec and Canada with 56% of the population speaking both French and English.
Roman Catholicism is the most widely practiced religion, although weekly church attendance is one of the lowest in the country. Montreal has historically been a center of Catholicism on the continent. About 65.8% of the population is Christian, with 52.8% being Roman Catholic due to original French settlers and those of Irish and Italian origins. Protestants (5.9%) come mostly from German and British origins, while 3.7% of the population is Orthodox Christian, mostly in the Greek community. Montreal has the second-largest concentration of Muslims in the state at 154,540 members, while there are about 35,785 Jewish people in the region.
The earliest known inhabitants of the island were the First Nations native people, who lived in the area as early as 4,000 years ago, growing maize and building fortified villages. Evidence also shows the Saint Lawrence Iroquoians established the village Hochelaga in the area 200 years before the arrival of the French. French explorer Jacques Cartier visited this village in 1535 and estimated a population of more than one thousand.
70 years later, another French explorer reported the St Lawrence Iroquoians and settlements had disappeared, likely due to an epidemic of disease from the Europeans outmigration or wars between tribes.
A fur trading post was established in the area in 1611 at the site of present-day Pointe-a-Calliere. A Roman Catholic mission was established to evangelize the natives in 1642. The region became a base for fur trading and French exploration. To create a large French settlement, the Mohawks were encouraged to move from the fur trading post, creating Kahnewake(a mission village), Kanesatake (north of the Ottawa River) and Akwesasne (further upriver). All three are now Mohawk reserves.
The new Canadian territory was ruled as a French colony until it was surrendered to Great Britain in 1760. Montreal was eventually incorporated in 1832, becoming the largest municipality in British North America in less than thirty years. It was the capital of the Province of Canada from 1844 until 1849. By 1951, Montreal was home to more than one million people, and it was during this decade that the city hosted the World's Fair, constructed the tallest skyscrapers in the country and created the subway system (Montreal Metro).
The city was merged with 27 nearby municipalities on the Island of Montreal in 2002 to create a unified city. Many mergers were rescinded later as the move was unpopular in several suburbs. 13% of the population of the island in many municipalities voted to leave the unified city in 2004, leaving 15 total municipalities on the Island of Montreal.
Montreal Population Growth
In 2013, more than 35% of all Canadians were living in one of Canada's three largest metropolitan areas, including Montreal. Montreal was once the leading city in the country, although it has been passed since then as its population growth has slowed. Toronto passed Montreal in population in the 1970s, and the cities are now worlds apart in terms of size. In another 60 years, Vancouver is predicted to surpass Montreal. For the past five years, Montreal has also been behind the national average growth rate.
By 2030, the Greater Montreal Area is expected to grow to 5.275 million, of which 1.72 million will belong to a visible minority group.