Calgary is located at the transition zone between the Canadian Rockies foothills and the Canadian Prairies. The city lies within the foothills parkland natural subregion of the parkland natural region and the foothills fescue subregion of the grasslands natural region. Calgary's elevation is approximately 1,048 m (3,438 ft) above sea level downtown, and 1,084 m (3,557 ft) at the airport. The city proper covers a land area of 726.5 km2 (280.5 sq mi) (as of 2006) and as such exceeds the land area of the City of Toronto.
There are two major rivers that run through the city. The Bow River is the largest and flows from the west to the south. The Elbow River flows northwards from the south until it converges with the Bow River near downtown. Since the climate of the region is generally dry, dense vegetation occurs naturally only in the river valleys, on some north-facing slopes, and within Fish Creek Provincial Park.
The city is large in physical area, consisting of an inner city surrounded by communities of various density. Unlike most cities with a sizeable metropolitan area, most of Calgary's suburbs are incorporated into the city proper, with the notable exceptions of the City of Airdrie to the north, Cochrane to the northwest, Strathmore to the east, and the Springbank and Bearspaw acreages to the west. Though it is not technically within Calgary's metropolitan area, the Town of Okotoks is only a short distance to the south and is considered a suburb as well. The Calgary Economic Region includes slightly more area than the CMA and has a population of 1,251,600 in 2008.
The city has undertaken numerous land annexation procedures over the years to keep up with growth; the most recent was completed in July 2007 and saw the city annex the neighbouring hamlet of Shepard, and place its boundaries adjacent to the hamlet of Balzac and within very short distances of the City of Airdrie and Town of Chestermere. Despite this proximity, there are presently no plans for Calgary to annex either Airdrie or Chestermere, and in fact Chestermere's administration has a growth plan in the works that calls for it annexing the intervening land between the town and Calgary.
The City of Calgary is immediately surrounded by two municipal districts, Rocky View County to the north, west and east; and Foothills No. 31 to the south.
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