Canadian population gets even more diverse: census

Wed Apr 2, 2008 7:12pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Visible minorities now make up more than 16 percent of Canada's population, according to 2006 census data released on Wednesday, with South Asians becoming the largest such group for the first time.

Immigration helped increase the number of visible minorities from an estimated 13.4 percent of the population in 2001, with most living in the major urban areas of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, Statistics Canada said.

Canada, which prides itself on its multicultural makeup, also continued to diversify along ethnic lines, with more than 200 different ethnic origins identified in the 2006 survey. That compares with only 25 recorded by census-takers at the beginning of the last century.

The country has a total population of over 31 million, of which more than 5 million were considered members of a visible minority -- identified as anyone other than aboriginal Canadians who are non-white.

Canada began tracking the number of visible minorities in 1981 when they were estimated to make up 4.7 percent of the population.

More than 1.2 million people identified themselves in the 2006 survey as being South Asian, including East Indians and Pakistanis and Sri Lankans, an increase of nearly 38 percent from 2001 and surpassing Canada's ethnic Chinese population.

Blacks were Canada's third largest visible minority.

Toronto had the largest number of visible minorities in the country due partly to the large number of recent immigrants who settled in the country's most populous city between 2001 and 2006, Statscan said.   Continued...

<p>Thousands gather on the streets of historic Chinatown in Vancouver, British Columbia January 29, 2006, to watch the annual Chinese New Year Parade. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>