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SimplyAnalytics Guide

Hierarchy of geographic areas



  • Portion of Canada’s land area governed by a political authority.
  • Canada is divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories.

Census Metro Areas (CMA)

  • Area consisting of one of more neighbouring municipalities situated around a core.
  • A census metropolitan area must have a total population of at least 100,000 of which 50,000 or more live in the core.
  • There are 33 CMAs in Canada as of the 2011 census.

Census Division (CD)

  • Group of neighbouring municipalities joined together for the purposes of regional planning and managing common services (such as police or ambulance services).
  • In Toronto, the amalgamated City of Toronto corresponds to the Census Division unit.

Census Subdivision (CSD)

  • Area that is a municipality or an area that is deemed to be equivalent to a municipality for statistical reporting purposes (e.g. as an Indian reserve or an unorganized territory).
  • Municipal status is defined by laws in effect in each province and territory in Canada. 
  • The Toronto CSD is the same as the CD (see above), because of amalgamation.

Census Tract (CT)

  • Area that is small and relatively stable.
  • Census tracts usually have a population of 2,500 to 8,000 persons.
  • They are located in large urban centres that must have an urban core population of 50,000 or more.

Dissemination Area (DA)

  • Small area composed of one or more neighbouring dissemination blocks, with a population of 400 to 700 persons.
  • All of Canada is divided into dissemination areas.
  • It is the smallest standard geographic areas for which all census data are disseminated.

Canada Postal Code

  • The postal code is a six-character code defined and maintained by Canada Post Corporation for the purpose of sorting and delivering mail.

Source: Statistics Canada’s census dictionary.