The City of Vancouver was home to 514,000 residents in 1998, with Greater Vancouver supporting a population of 1.9 million. During the early 1990s, Greater Vancouver experienced a 14 percent growth in population. It is the third-largest city in Canada behind Toronto and Montreal. Some predict visible minorities will form the majority of the city's population during the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Truly a multicultural city, Vancouver residents find their origins in more than 40 different ethnic and cultural groups. More than 100 different languages are spoken. Almost half of the city's population, 44 percent, is of a visible minority.
In 1991, it was estimated that there were more citizens of Chinese ancestry living in the city than any other single cultural or ethnic group. Residents of Chinese descent first came to Vancouver during the gold rush in 1858. Later, immigrants from China's southern Guangdong province arrived as laborers to help build Canada's transcontinental railway. Today, the majority of Chinese immigrants are from Hong Kong.
Residents of English descent form the second largest ancestry group, and those of East Indian descent form the third largest group. Scottish, German, Filipino, Italian, and Irish account for the other major groups of ethnic ancestry.
Most religions and denominations are represented and practiced in Vancouver. Christian, Animist, and Pagan worshippers live a harmonious existence beside those who practice Asian or middle-eastern religions like Islam and Hindu.