Ontario is Canada’s largest, most diverse and developed economy and its most populous province, representing nearly 40% of Canada’s total population. If Ontario were a U.S. state, it would rank fifth by population, trailing only California, Florida, Texas and New York. Ontario covers more than one million square kilometres (415,000 square miles); larger than any U.S. state or territory other than Alaska, and larger than the countries of France and Spain combined.
Ontario is home to Canada’s capital (Ottawa) and the nation’s most populous city (Toronto). Ontario borders Hudson Bay and James Bay to the North, the Province of Quebec to the East, the Province of Manitoba to the West and, to the South, shares either a land or water border (or both) with the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Ontario generates approximately 40% of Canada’s national gross domestic product. More than US$841 billion in goods and services were exchanged over the Canada-U.S. border in 2016, with Ontario-U.S. trade accounting for more than half of this amount.
The province’s economy is rooted in the manufacturing, natural resources, and services industries, but is an emerging leader in financial services, fintech and artificial intelligence. Key manufacturing sectors include automotive, information and technology, oil and gas, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. Ontario’s natural resource industries include agriculture (with almost 52,000 farms producing fruits, vegetables, cash crops, poultry, hog, dairy and beef, flowers and ornamental plants), forestry and mining (producing metals like nickel, platinum gold, copper, zinc, cobalt and silver, along with minerals such as salt, gypsum, lime, and structural materials like sand, gravel and stone). Services provided by Ontarians include financial, professional, and scientific technical services.
Ontario is also home to the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), Canada’s largest, North America’s third largest and the ninth largest exchange in the world by market capitalization ($2.1 trillion). Over 1,500 companies are listed on the exchange, 60 of which, representing some 70% of total volume, are tracked to form the S&P/TSX Composite Index. In addition to conventional securities, the exchange lists various exchange-traded funds, split share corporations, income trusts and investment funds.
Ontario boasts an available labour force of over seven million people. More than two-thirds of Ontarians have completed a post-secondary education program – a rate higher than any OECD country. Ontario is also home to about 45% of all employees in high tech, financial services, and other knowledge-intensive industries in Canada.
Though Ontario’s official language is English, the province boasts a population that speaks more than 100 languages and dialects from around the globe, including French, Chinese, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish, Punjabi, Ukrainian, and Portuguese. French language rights are officially available from Ontario’s regulatory and educational systems.
Culture and Lifestyle
Ontario is home to many world-class museums, theatres, festivals, and performing arts companies. Some of the better known venues and events available to residents and visitors are the Art Gallery of Ontario (in Toronto), the National Gallery of Canada (in Ottawa), the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (in Kleinburg), Mirvish Productions (in Toronto), and seasonal performing arts festivals such as the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival. Ontario is Canada’s leader in film and television production, book and magazine publishing, and sound recording.
Ontario also boasts breathtaking scenery and a plethora of sporting and leisure activities to choose from: 70 million hectares of forested lands, approximately one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, and more than 3,600 species of plants, 154 species of fish, 50 species of amphibians and reptiles, 483 species of birds, and 81 species of mammals. From Algonquin Provincial Park to the parliament buildings, from the CN Tower to Niagara Falls, Ontario has many wonders to behold, both natural and man-made. Popular summertime and wintertime activities include swimming, boating, baseball, hiking, camping, fishing, skating, skiing, tobogganing, curling, and hockey.