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Edmonton, Alberta's capital, has the largest metropolitan population in the province, currently around 850,000. Located on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River, it's a sophisticated city noted for its easygoing friendliness.

Edmonton grew in spurts, following a boom-and-bust pattern as exciting as it was unreliable. During World War II, the boom came in the form of the Alaska Highway, with Edmonton as the material base and temporary home of 50,000 American troops and construction workers.

The ultimate boom, however, gushed from the ground in 1947, when a drill at Leduc, 25 miles (40km) southwest of the city, sent a fountain of crude oil soaring skyward. Some 10,000 other wells followed, all within a 100-mile (161km) radius of the city. In their wake came the petrochemical industry and the major refining and supply conglomerates. In 20 years, the population of the city quadrupled, its skyline mushroomed with glass-and-concrete office towers, a rapid-transit system was created, and a C$150-million (US$943,800) civic center rose. Edmonton had become what it is today--the oil capital of Canada.

Edmonton's economy generated 2.1% growth in 2005, attributable, in part, to over $100 billion of investment in major development projects that are proposed or under construction, a surging oil and gas industry, and an active public sector. Alberta's capital can expect increased employment prospects for 2006, in response to the energy industry, a hot housing market, and rising activity in the industrial and business services sectors. All of these factors, coupled with low interest rates, will continue to generate positive economic growth in Edmonton in 2006.

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