Winnipeg is the largest city (containing over half of the provincial population) and capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, making it the seat of the provincial Crown. Located at the eastern edge of the prairie region of Western Canada, Winnipeg plays a prominent role in transportation, finance, manufacturing, agriculture and education. Because all rail and highway traffic between eastern and western Canada must travel through or near the city, it is often called the "Gateway to the West".
The city is located near the geographic centre of North America, at the confluence of the historic Red and Assiniboine Rivers, a point now commonly known as The Forks that is a focal point for many celebrations, public events, museums, shops, skating, restaurants, and tours.
Winnipeg lies in close proximity to hundreds of lakes, including Lake Winnipeg, Canada's fifth largest lake and the world's eleventh largest, as well as Lake Manitoba and the Lake of the Woods. Lake Winnipeg is the largest lake within the borders of Southern Canada, and along the east side are some of the most pristine Canadian Shield rivers.
The city is a cultural centre and is the home of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It boasts historic architecture, scenic waterways, a heritage river, numerous parks including Assiniboine Park, and distinctive neighbourhoods. Winnipeg is home to the Hudson's Bay Company Archives, and is in the area of the original settlements and farms in the west. Winnipeg has laid claim to the title of World's Longest Skating Rink along the Red and Assiniboine rivers.
Winnipeg is an important regional centre of commerce, industry, culture, finance, and government. In 2003 and 2004, Canadian Business magazine ranked Winnipeg in the top 10 cities for business. In 2006, Winnipeg was ranked by KPMG as one of the lowest cost locations to do business in Canada. As with much of Western Canada, in 2007, Winnipeg experienced both a building and real estate boom. In May of 2007, the Winnipeg Real Estate Board reported the best month in its 104-year history in terms of sales and volume.