Halifax Regional Municipality (commonly Halifax or HRM) is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The Regional Municipality had a population of 390,096 in 2011 Canadian Census and the urban area had a population of 297,943. Halifax is the largest population centre in Atlantic Canada and largest in Canada east of Quebec City. Halifax was ranked by MoneySense magazine as the fourth best place to live in Canada for 2012, placed first on a list of "large cities by quality of life" and placed second in a list of "large cities of the future", both conducted by fDi Magazine for North and South American cities.
Halifax is a major economic centre in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, various levels of government, and the Port of Halifax. Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of HRM.
Metropolitan Halifax is a term used to roughly describe the urban concentration surrounding Halifax Harbour in the western part of the municipality, and includes the Halifax Metropolitan Area, the Dartmouth Metropolitan Area, and the Bedford-Sackville areas. It is the urban area of HRM (2011 pop: 297,943) and is located in the western end of the municipality, fronting on Halifax Harbour. The dense urban core is centered on the Halifax Peninsula and the area of Dartmouth inside of the Circumferential Highway. The suburban area stretches beyond Mainland Halifax to the west, Cole Harbour to the east, and Bedford, Lower Sackville and Windsor Junction areas to the north.
This urban area constitutes the most populous urban area on Canada's Atlantic coast, and the second largest coastal population centre in the country, after Vancouver, British Columbia. HRM currently accounts for 40% of Nova Scotia's population, and 15% of that of Atlantic Canada.
Despite its coastal location, the climate of HRM is humid continental, due to the prevailing westerly winds blowing from the mainland of the continent. HRM's climate is, however, heavily influenced by its location on Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast. The weather is usually milder or cooler than that of central Canada, with the temperature remaining (with occasional notable exceptions) between about −15 °C and 25 °C (5 °F to 77 °F) inland. Coastal sections have even less range due to strong maritime influence. Precipitation is high year-round; snow, rain and ice mixes are common in the winter, though sometimes it is mild and rainy. Halifax often receives tropical storms, mostly between August and October. They are very rarely at hurricane force when they make landfall, the most recent exception being when Hurricane Juan, a Category 2 storm, hit in September 2003, and Hurricane Earl which grazed the coast as a Category 1 storm in 2010. Atlantic sea surface temperatures off the coast of Nova Scotia were warmer than normal those years, and the accelerated storm tracks did not allow for the weakening that usually occurs with hurricanes moving over the colder waters of the Nova Scotia coast after passing the Gulf Stream.
Halifax from the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge
The Halifax Regional Municipality occupies an area of 5,577 square kilometres (2,353 sq mi), (approximately 10% of Nova Scotia) comparable to the province of Prince Edward Island, and measures approximately 165 kilometres (102.5 mi) in length between its eastern and western-most extremities, not including Sable Island. The nearest point of land to Sable Island is not actually in HRM, but rather in adjacent Guysborough County, however, Sable Island is considered part of District 13 in HRM.
The coastline is heavily indented, accounting for its length of approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi), with the northern boundary usually being between 50-60 kilometres (30-37 mi) inland. The coast is mostly rock with small isolated sand beaches in sheltered bays. The largest bays include St. Margarets Bay, Halifax Harbour / Bedford Basin, Cole Harbour, Musquodoboit Harbour, Jeddore Harbour, Ship Harbour, Sheet Harbour, and Ecum Secum Harbour. The municipality's topography spans from lush farmland in the Musquodoboit Valley to rocky and heavily forested rolling hills. It includes a number of islands and peninsulas, among them McNabs Island, Beaver Island, Melville Island, and Deadman's Island.
The municipality is centered on the urban core and surrounded by areas of decreasing density the farther the community is from the core. Rural areas lie to the east, west and north of this urban core. Certain rural communities on the urban fringe function as suburban or exurban areas, with the majority of those residents working in the urban core. Farther away, rural communities in HRM function much as any resource-based area in Nova Scotia, being sparsely populated, with their local economies developing around four major resource industries: agriculture, fishing, mining and forestry. It should be noted that the tourism industry is beginning to change how some rural communities in HRM function, particularly in coastal areas such as Hubbards, Peggys Cove and Lawrencetown.
The north eastern area centered on Sheet Harbour and the Musquodoboit Valley is completely rural, with more in common with adjacent rural areas of neighbouring counties.