The Capital Region is located on the border between Ontario and Quebec, Canada’s two most populous provinces. The Capital, as defined by the 1958 National Capital Act, is a region that measures 4,715 square kilometres, of which 11.6 percent is under the control and management of the federal government.
Straddling the boundary of two geological formations, the Canadian Shield and the St. Lawrence Lowlands, and situated at the confluence of three major river systems (the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau), the region is relatively flat south of the Ottawa River, contrasted by more elevated terrain directly to its north. It has a humid continental climate and four distinct seasons.
Prominent natural features, as well as its historical and cultural signature, characterize the Capital Region. It is situated on ancestral lands of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation. It also hosts many of Canada’s most important national symbols, including buildings and ceremonial spaces in the Parliamentary Precinct, as well as renowned cultural institutions.
The Capital Region’s northern climate and location at the cusp of the northern boreal forest are rare among major world cities. It has striking natural beauty, and the foresight of prior plans has protected key viewsheds and created public access to its shorelines. An extensive network of scenic recreational pathways and parkways links the Capital’s cultural institutions, parks and natural spaces. The region boasts protected wetlands, valued ecosystems and habitats, important natural features and near-wilderness areas, as well as productive agricultural lands in close proximity to its urban centres.
The Capital spans two provinces populated by two of Canada’s founding cultures, and is home to a diverse community of immigrants. Many residents of the region speak both of Canada’s official languages. As the seat of the Government of Canada, the Capital hosts over 130 diplomatic missions representing nations from around the world.