Ottawa, Canada's capital, is also this country's showcase. Here the nation's cultural treasures are displayed to millions of tourists every year. Here form, appearance and century-old traditions take precedence over speed and efficiency. Decades of effort have gone into Ottawa's beautification. The National Capital Region, including Hull and its other neighbouring communities in Quebec, has a total population of roughly 1 million, making it Canada's fourth-largest metropolitan area. But the city of Ottawa itself, at just over 300,000 has more of a small-city feeling and pace -- certainly compared to Canada's larger cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Though its rivers made Ottawa-Hull an industrial centre in the 19th century, today its major industries are government and tourism. With services, education and high-tech industries also playing an important role, the area has little of the polluting smoke-stack industries so common elsewhere. Ottawa's quality of life is exceptional both for tourists and permanent residents.

1999 Richard McGuire

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