- Western Canada consists of the country’s four westernmost provinces (including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia). It covers 2.9 million square kilometers – almost 29% of Canada’s land area – making it the seventh largest land mass in the world.
Abundant natural resources, thriving technology and services sectors, and low business cost make Western Canada an attractive place to do business. Its geographic proximity to Asian markets, access to inland and sea ports, and excellent transportation services to locations throughout North America has created increased efficiency in exporting products to international markets.
An increasingly diversified business economy has created tremendous opportunities for industries in Western Canada. The natural strengths driving emerging opportunities in Western Canada are creating competitive advantages that have helped keep the economy growing.
Western Canada is a significant contributor to the overall Canadian economy in 2011. Western Canada accounted for 34% of Canada’s real gross domestic product by industry and 40% of Canada’s exported goods. Western Canada’s export activity is closely linked to the largest economy in the world, The United States, and increasingly to the large and growing economies of the Asia-Pacific. The United States is Western Canada’s closest trading partner, accounting for roughly 71% of goods exported from Western Canada in 2011. In the same year, exports to the Asia Pacific region accounted for roughly 15% of Western Canada’s total exports, a 38% increase over the past five years. In 2011, the United States and the largest growing economies of the Asia Pacific purchased close to 87% of Western Canada’s total exported product.
Economic growth in Western Canada is anchored by the natural resources sector, with resource based goods accounting for approximately 73% of total exported products in 2011. This focus has been a benefit to the economy by providing the foundation for the creation of industry clusters in sectors such as mining, forestry, oil and gas, and agriculture.
Approximately 10.6 million people, roughly 31% of Canadians, call Western Canada home. The majority of the population lives in urban areas, dominated by the cities, which include:
British Columbia (provincial population 4.5 million)
- Vancouver – population 2.5 million
- Victoria – population 361,000
Alberta (provincial population 4.6 million)
- Calgary – population 1.3 million
- Edmonton – population 1.2 million
Saskatchewan (provincial population 1.1 million)
- Saskatoon – population 270,000
- Regina – population 220,000
Manitoba (provincial population 1.3 million)
- Winnipeg – 770,000
- Brandon – 56,000