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Spawned out of post-glacial alluvial deposits and bluffs, the area was populated at different times by Iroquois and later Wyandot (Huron) peoples.
The settlement by Europeans started with the French building a seldom occupied fort near today's Exhibition grounds in the mid-1700s, then grew out of a backwoods English trading post established as York in 1793 (reverting to the current name Toronto in 1834).
Toronto, with a population of 2.6 million, is at the heart of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) which contains 6.2 million people.
The city is the anchor of the Golden Horseshoe region, which wraps around Lake Ontario from Toronto to Niagara Falls and totals over 8.5 million residents, approximately a quarter of Canada's entire population.
Toronto and its surrounding suburbs are collectively known as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Outlying suburbs are also known as "the 905" after their area code, although technically this code is also used in both Hamilton and the Niagara Region, stretching to the border within Niagara Falls.
This is also known as Metropolitan Toronto or "the 416" after its area code (although now there are some new area codes, the majority of landline phone numbers in the Toronto area are still "416").
Owing largely to the country's liberal immigration policies starting in the 1960s, and the region's strong economy, Toronto has, in recent decades, been transformed into one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the world.Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and the provincial capital of Ontario.