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Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec. Originally called Ville-Marie, or City of Mary, Montreal takes its present name from Mont-Royal, the triple-peaked hill located in the heart of the city, whose name was also initially given to the island on which the city is located, or Mont Réal as it was spelled in Middle French.
Greater Montreal is the most populous metropolitan area in the Canadian province of Quebec. As of 2009, Montreal's land area of 4,259 square kilometres is Canada's second most populous with a population of 3,814,700. A smaller area of 3,838 square kilometres is governed by the Montreal Metropolitan Community Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. Headed currently by Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay.
The inner ring is composed of densely populated municipalities located in close proximity to Downtown Montreal. It includes the entire Island of Montreal, Laval, and the Urban Agglomeration of Longueuil.
The outer ring is composed mainly of lower-density semi-rural municipalities located on the fringe of Metropolitan Montreal. Specifically, the term off-island suburbs refers to those suburbs located on the North Shore of the Mille-Îles River, those on the South Shore that were never included in the megacity of Longueuil, and those on the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Peninsula. Communities in that area are also informally referred to as the 450, after the telephone area code that serves the region since 1998.
Due to their proximity to Montreal's downtown core, the suburbs of Longueuil, Brossard, Saint-Lambert, and Bouchervilleon the South Shore are usually not included in the off-island suburbs even though they are on the mainland.