Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, with a metropolitan population of 1,533,038 in the Canada 2011 Census. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. The city is found on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies. The name "Winnipeg" comes from the Cree for "muddy waters". The Winnipeg area was a trading centre for Aboriginal peoples prior to the arrival of Europeans. The first fort was built there in 1738 by French traders. A settlement was later founded by the Selkirk settlers in 1812, the nucleus of which was incorporated as the City of Winnipeg in 1873 with a population of 1,869. Winnipeg is the seventh-largest municipality in Canada, and is the primary municipality of the Winnipeg Capital Region (population of 1,533,641), with more than half of Manitoba's population.
The economy of Winnipeg includes finance, manufacturing, food and beverage production, culture, retail and tourism sectors. Winnipeg is a transportation hub, served by Richardson International Airport. The city has railway connections to Eastern and Western Canada through three Class I rail carriers. Winnipeg's professional sports teams include the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Canadian football), the Winnipeg Jets (hockey), and the Winnipeg Goldeyes (baseball). Winnipeg's post-secondary institutions include Red River College, the University of Manitoba, the University of Winnipeg, the Canadian Mennonite University and University of St. Boniface (formerly known as St. Boniface College), the oldest post-secondary educational institution in Western Canada.
Winnipeg is culturally diverse. The city has the highest percentage of Filipinos of any municipality in Canada, the Filipino language Tagalog being the second most prevalent mother tongue in the city after English; however, most Winnipeggers are of European descent, and/or classify themselves as Canadian. One in ten Winnipeg residents speak both English and French. Winnipeg's cultural organizations include Manitoba Theatre Centre, Manitoba Opera, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Museum, Winnipeg Art Gallery. Some of the city's popular festivals are the Festival du Voyageur, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, Folklorama, and WSO New Music Festival.
Winnipeg lies at the bottom of the Red River Valley, a flood plain with an extremely flat topography. It is on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies in Western Canada and is known as the "Gateway to the West". Winnipeg is bordered by tallgrass prairie to the west and south and the aspen parkland to the northeast, although most of the native prairie grasses have been removed for agriculture and urbanization. It is relatively close to many large Canadian Shield lakes and parks, as well as Lake Winnipeg (the Earth's 11th largest freshwater lake). Winnipeg contains North America's largest extant mature urban elm forest. The city has a total area of 179.18 square miles (464.07 km2).
Winnipeg has four major rivers: the Red, Assiniboine, La Salle and Seine. The city was subject to severe flooding in the past. The Red River reached its greatest flood height in 1826. Another large flood occurred in 1950, which caused millions of dollars in damage and mass evacuations. This flood prompted Duff Roblin's provincial government to build the Red River Floodway to protect the city; the project began in 1962 and was completed in 1968. In the 1997 flood, flood control dikes were reinforced and raised using sandbags; Winnipeg suffered very limited damage compared to the flood's impact on cities without such structures, such as Grand Forks, Rocky Mountain. The generally flat terrain and the poor drainage of the Red River Valley's clay-based soil also results in many mosquitoes during wetter years.
Winnipeg's location in the Canadian Prairies gives it a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) Summers have a July mean average of 19.7 °C (67.5 °F). Winters are the coldest and driest time of year, with the January mean average around −16.4 °C (2.5 °F) and total winter precipitation averaging 55 mm (2.2 in). Temperatures occasionally drop below −40.0 °C (−40 °F) The actual air temperature drops below −30 °C (−22 °F) on average 12.6 days annually and rises above 30 °C (86 °F) 13.3 days of the year. On average there are 317.8 days per year with measurable sunshine, with July seeing the most on average. With 2353 hours of sunshine per year, Winnipeg is the second sunniest city in Canada. Total annual precipitation (both rain and snow) is just over 51 centimetres (20 in). Thunderstorms are very common during summer, and sometimes severe enough to produce tornadoes. Low wind chill values are a common occurrence in the local climate. The wind chill has gone down as low as -57 and on average there are 12 days of the year that can reach a wind chill below -40.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Winnipeg was 42.2 °C (108 °F) on July 11th, 1936 while the highest daily low temperature was 28.3 °C (83 °F) on July 12th, 1936. The apparent heat can be even more extreme due to bursts of humidity and on July 25th, 2007 a 47.3 reading of the humidex was measured. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −47.8 °C (−54 °F) on December 24th, 1879.
The frost-free season is comparatively long for a location with such severe winters. The last spring frost is on average around May 23rd, whilst the first fall frost is on September 22nd.