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Cultures that Live in Toronto

Little Italy, Toronto
Chinatown, Toronto
Kensington Market, Toronto
Danforth Festival, Toronto

Toronto, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, has a number of picturesque neighborhoods that reflect the ethnic diversity of its inhabitants.
Two million people live in the Ontario capital, probably the Canadian city most influenced by the US given its proximity to the neighbouring country. Perhaps that is why the city is also the most multi-cultural: practically half of its inhabitants are immigrants or the children of immigrants from all over the world, who came to the economic capital of the country seeking a better life.
Toronto can boast of being among the world’s cities with most nationalities and ethnic and linguistic diversity, giving it an indisputable cultural richness. Furthermore, this multiculturalism is a phenomenon that is wholly accepted by the population, which enjoys an environment of equality and equal opportunities, in which outbreaks of discrimination towards ethnic and national minorities do not exist.
The city’s main minority group is Italian. Most of the Italian-Canadian population lives in Ontario and inhabitants of Toronto of Italian descent exceed 400,000. Countless restaurants and businesses in Toronto are run by people of Italian descent. One neighbourhood, Little Italy, has become the hallmark of this great community. Its streets are populated with businesses, restaurants, ice cream and pizza parlours. There’s even an Italian Walk of Fame, with stars on the pavement bearing the names of illustrious Italian personalities.
Other large groups are the South Asian and Chinese communities. There are several Chinatowns in Toronto which give the city a colourful, picturesque quality. The most central Chinatown is between Dundas and Spadina, in the west of the city. It has grown to become one of the biggest in North America. Although Chinese migrants had begun to settle in the area in the 19th century, it was in 1960 when their ethnic imprint strengthened with the construction of the New City Hall, requiring many of the families living in the First Chinatown to move to the new site. Even though there are no monuments, the atmosphere, restuarants and food shops add a touch of the exotic to Toronto. During the Chinese New Year, the whole neighbourhood is decorated and comes alive with parades and activities.
The South American population is also well represented in Toronto, reaching more than a quarter of a million inhabitants. It is not uncommon to hear Spanish spoken. Other minority groups include Indian, Portuguese, Greek and Lebanese. Many of them gather in the Kensington district, north of Chinatown. This neighbourhood was initially populated by the Irish and Scottish and later became home to Jewish merchants from Europe. The subsequent arrival of Caribbeans, Africans, Asians and South Americans made it one of the liveliest neighbourhoods. It has a wide range of entertainment and leisure activities, with street markets, restaurants, bars with live music, design shops and specialized businesses. In summer, it is at the height of its splendour and hosts various ethnic festivals.

A safe and bustling city

The predominance of citizens from other latitudes have given Toronto a particular quality that distinguishes it from other Canadian and US cities. People spend more time in the street and are more open, especially in the spring and summer when the weather is good. And, Toronto, like the rest of Canada, is very safe and practically crime-free.

Miscegenation as a sign of identity

Toronto’s cultural and social life is one the great benefits of this interracial mixing. Perhaps this is one of the factors that has led to its flourishing theatrical activity, the proliferation of always-packed bookstores and the staggering number of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the city. This vibrant atmosphere compensates for the short list of monuments and historic sites.

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