Chicoutimi was founded by European Canadians as a city in 1842 at the confluence of the Saguenay and Chicoutimi rivers. The name Chicoutimi means the end of the deep water in Innu-aimun. During the 20th century, it became the main administrative and commercial center of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region. In 2002 it merged into the new city of Saguenay and forms the heart of the 5th-largest urban area of Quebec province. It is home to the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi).
At the 2011 census, it had a total population of 139,749. The borough was formed in 2002 from the merger of the former cities of Chicoutimi, Laterrière, and part of the former township of Tremblay.
Chicoutimi is located in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region on the western end of the Saguenay Fjord; most of the borough, including the downtown section, is on the south shore of the Saguenay River. It is the geographical center of the city of Saguenay; the Jonquière and La Baie boroughs adjoin on the west and east sides. Chicoutimi is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Quebec City and 126 kilometers (78 miles) northwest upriver from Tadoussac, at the confluence of the St. Lawrence River. The former cities of Chicoutimi borough are: Chicoutimi, Laterrière, Canton-Tremblay, Chicoutimi-Nord and Rivière-du-Moulin. They have maintained their names as wards in the amalgamated city.
The landscape of Chicoutimi consists of hills, valleys and plains, with the terrain becoming steeper near the Saguenay River. Its two major physical features are the Saguenay Graben, a rift valley of the Laurentian Highlands in which the city spreads, and the Saguenay Fjord, the glacier-carved steep shores of the Saguenay River. Mount Valin at 3,215 feet (980 meters) is the tallest mountain of the region, and overlooks Chicoutimi 30 kilometers (19 miles) north-east. The Chicoutimi, Du Moulin and Valin rivers all empty in the Saguenay river in Chicoutimi.