The country's capital sits on the south bank of the Ottawa River, opposite the French-speaking city of Gatineau in neighbouring Quebec province. It's location on the border puts it in the unique position of being truly multicultural and bilingual, with a harmonious blend of French and English culture.
Ottawa was a humble lumber town until Queen Victoria designated it the capital of Canada in 1857. Since then it has grown into a modern and cosmopolitan city, often overlooked in favour of its larger, more glamorous neighbours, Toronto and Montreal.
Its main landmark is the 302ft (92m) high Peace Tower, rising above the imposing Parliament Buildings, which stand in Gothic splendour at the junction of the Ottawa, Rideau and Gatineau rivers.
The city has a network of waterways and canals that link it to Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. Locals and visitors use the historic Rideau Canal for boating in summer, and for ice sculpting and skating in winter. The parliament buildings and other sites have an old-world European charm, offering numerous top-class museums and galleries, while the National Arts Centre houses an opera company, theatres, studios and restaurants.