Ontario is one of 10 provinces of Canada and located in the east-central region of the county. Ontario is the most populous province of Canada with almost 40% of the country's population and the second-largest in terms of land area, or the 4th largest in area when the territories of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are included. Ontario is also home to Canada's capital, Ottawa, and Toronto, the most populous city.
It is bordered by the province Manitoba to the west, Quebec to the east, James Bay and Hudson Bay to the north and the U.S. states Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Minnesota to the south. The province shares a 2,700 kilometer (1,678 mile) border with the United States.
Ontario has an estimated population of 13.6 million living in a total area of 1,076,395 square kilometers, or more than 415,000 square miles. This gives Ontario a population density of 14 people per square kilometer, or 36 individuals per square mile. Ontario is often divided into two regions: Southern Ontario and Northern Ontario. Most of the population and the arable land is in the south, along with the city of Toronto. The larger northern part of the province is very sparsely inhabited. The most populous city, Toronto, has a population density of 10,750 people per square mile, or 4,149 per square kilometer.
Most Ontarians are of English or European descent, which large populations of Italian, Irish and Scottish. Under 5% of the population is Franco-Ontarian, while those of French ancestry make up 11% of the population. Almost 26% of the province's population belongs to a visible minority group while 2.4% is Aboriginal, most of whom are of Metis and First Nations descent. There are also some Inuit people residing in the area.
Ontario has a percentage of foreign-born people that is much higher than the national average: in 2006, 28.3% of the population was foreign-born, compared to the Canadaian average of 19.8%.
At the 2011 census, the racial and ethnic composition of Ontario was 71.7% white, 25.9% visible minority groups and 2.4% Aboriginal groups (1.6% First Nations, 0.7% Metis, 0.1% other Aboriginal). The visible minority groups include:
The largest religious denomination in the province is the Roman Catholic Church at 31.4%, followed by Protestant (21.1%), other Christian (9.7%), Muslim (4.6%), Hindu (2.9%), Christian Orthodox (2.4%), Jewish (1.5%), Sikh (1.4%) and Buddhist (1.3%). Just over 23% of the population claim no religious affiliation.
The 2011 census found the population of Ontario was 12.85 million, up 5.7% from the 2006 population of 12.16 million. Much of the province's growth is driven by immigration, as it has been for more than 200 years. Recent sources of immigrants are Caribbeans, Latin Americans, Asians, Africans and Europeans, many of whom have settled in urban areas. The Aboriginal population of Ontario has been growing much faster than Ontario as a whole.
Ontario does have a demographics problem as the population is aging quickly with more Ontarians moving into retirement faster than they are being replaced by new workers. In Alberta, the number of people turning 65 last year increased by 5%, but its working-age population grew 5x faster than that of Ontario's.
The number of immigrants moving to Ontario has also slowed. Ten years ago, 50% of all immigrants to the country moved to Ontario, a number that has dropped to just over 38% today.
Prior to European arrival in the 17th century, the area was inhabited by first nations people, mostly Iroquoian and Algonquian. The French were the first Europeans to explore the area in the early 1600s, starting a lucrative fur trade that drew the English to the area just a few years later. Settlement truly began when Loyalists moved north after the War of American Independence in 1779. English explorer Henry Hudson sailed into the Hudson Bay in 1611, claiming the region for England.
French missionaries then began establishing posts in the areas, although settlement was hampered by hostility from the Iroquois, who allied with the British. The native population was also decimated by European disease such as measles from 1634 to 1640 with no natural immunity.
The British built trading posts along the Hudson Bay in the late 17th century. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended the Seven Years' War and awarded most of the North American possessions of France to Britain. In 1774, the region was annexed to Quebec. In 1791, Quebec was split into the Canadas: Upper Canada was southwest of the St. Lawrence-Ottawa River confluence while Lower Canada was to the east.
Upper Canada was invaded by the Americans in the War of 1812, although they were defeated. After the war, stability returned to the region and more immigrants from European arrived, particularly from Britain and Ireland. There was a boom in the 1850s with railroad expansion across the region and soon after Ontario became an official province of Canada.