Winnipeg is the capital and largest city (containing over half of the provincial population) of the Canadian province of Manitoba. Located at the eastern edge of the prairie region of Western Canada, Winnipeg plays a prominent role in transportation, finance, manufacturing, agriculture and education. Because all rail and highway traffic between eastern and western Canada must travel through or near the city, it is often called the "Gateway to the West".
The city is located near the geographic centre of North America, at the confluence of the historic Red and Assiniboine Rivers, a point now commonly known as The Forks, now a mixed-use public space and one of the city's most popular attractions.
Winnipeg lies in close proximity to hundreds of lakes, including Lake Winnipeg, Canada's fifth largest lake and the world's eleventh largest, as well as Lake Manitoba and the Lake of the Woods. Lake Winnipeg is the largest lake within the borders of Southern Canada, and along the east side are some of the most pristine Canadian Shield rivers.
The city is a cultural centre and is the home of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It boasts historic architecture, scenic waterways, a heritage river, numerous parks including Assiniboine Park, and distinctive neighbourhoods. Winnipeg is home to the Hudson's Bay Company Archives, and is in the area of the original settlements and farms in the west. Winnipeg has laid claim to the title of World's Longest Skating Rink along the Red and Assiniboine rivers.