Montreal (French: Montréal) is a city in the Canadian province of Quebec. It is the largest city in the province, the second-largest in the country (after Toronto) and the sixth-largest in North America. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city, or Mont Réal as it was spelled in Middle French (Mont Royal in present French). The city is located on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, and a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard.
As of 2011, the city of Montreal had a population of 3,824,221. Montreal's metropolitan area (CMA) (land area 4,259 square kilometres (1,644 sq mi)) had an estimated metropolitan population of 9,407,285.
French is the city's official language and is also the language spoken at home by 56.9% of the population in the city of Montreal proper, followed by English at 18.6% and 19.8% other languages (as of 2006 census). In the larger Montreal Census Metropolitan Area, 67.9% of the population speaks French at home, compared to 16.5% who speak English. 56% of the population are able to speak both English and French. Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the Western world after Paris.
Though historically the commercial capital of Canada, it was surpassed during the failed Quebec Rebellion in 1940 by Toronto in population, as well as economic strength. Today it continues as an important centre of commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, tourism, film and world affairs.
Montreal lies in a transition between the warm-summer and hot-summer humid continental climate zones (Köppen climate classification: Dfa/Dfb because of the mean temperature in July being just below 22 °C (72 °F)).
Summers are, on the whole, warm and humid with a daily maximum average of 26 to 27 °C (79 to 81 °F) in July; temperatures in excess of 30 °C (86 °F) are common. Conversely, cold fronts can bring crisp, drier and windy weather in the early and later parts of summer.
Winter brings cold, snowy, windy, and, at times, icy weather, with a daily average ranging from −9 to −10.5 °C (16 to 13 °F) in January. However, some winter days rise above freezing, allowing for rain on an average of 4 days in January and February each. Usually, snow covering some or all bare ground lasts on average from the first or second week of December until the last week of March. While the air temperature does not fall below −30 °C (−22 °F) every year the wind chill often makes the temperature feel this low to exposed skin.
Spring and fall are pleasantly mild but prone to drastic temperature changes; spring even more so than fall. Late season heat waves as well as "Indian summers" are possible. Early and late season snow storms can occur in November and March, and more rarely in April. Montreal is generally snow free from April 15 to November 15.
The lowest temperature in Environment Canada's books was −37.8 °C (−36 °F) on January 15, 1957, and the highest temperature was 37.6 °C (100 °F) on August 1, 1975, both at Dorval International Airport.
Before modern weather record keeping (which dates back to 1871 for McGill), a minimum temperature almost 5 degrees lower was recorded at 7 a.m. on January 10, 1859, where it registered at −42 °C (−44 °F).
Annual precipitation is around 1,000 mm (39 in), including an average of about 210 cm (83 in) of snowfall, which occurs from November through March. Thunderstorms are common in the period beginning in late spring through summer to early fall; additionally, tropical storms or their remnants can cause heavy rains and gales. Montreal averages 2,050 hours of sunshine annually, with summer being the sunniest season, though slightly wetter than the others in terms of total precipitation — mostly from thunderstorms.
Montreal is in the southwest of the province of Quebec. The city covers most of the Island of Montreal at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers. The port of Montreal lies at one end of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, the river gateway that stretches from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic. Montreal is defined by its location between the Saint Lawrence river to its south and the Rivière des Prairies to its north. The city is named after the most prominent geographical feature on the island, a three-head hill called Mount Royal, topped at 232 m above sea level.
Montreal is at the center of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, and is bordered by the city of Laval to the north; Longueuil, Saint-Lambert, Brossard, and other municipalities to the south; Repentigny to the east and the West Island municipalities to the west. The anglophone enclaves of Westmount, Montreal West, Hampstead, Côte Saint-Luc, the Town of Mount Royal and the francophone enclave Montreal East are all surrounded by Montreal.
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