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It is the largest city in the Northern Ontario region by population, and the 24th largest metropolitan area in Canada. By land area, it is the largest city in Ontario, the seventh largest municipality by area in Canada and the largest municipality outside Quebec legally designated as a city.
Greater Sudbury is one of only five cities in Ontario—the others are Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Kawartha Lakes—that constitute their own independent census divisions, and are not part of any district, county or regional municipality.
It is also the only city in Ontario which has two official names; its name in French is Grand-Sudbury. Unlike designations such as Greater Toronto or Greater Montreal, the name "Greater Sudbury" refers to a single city, not a conurbation of independent municipalities. However, Sudbury is still the more common name for the city in everyday usage.
The city's Census Metropolitan Area consists of the city and the First Nations reserves of Whitefish Lake and Wahnapitae, and had a population of 158,258 in the 2006 census. Statistics Canada estimates the Greater Sudbury CMA's population as 165,322 as of 2009. Informally, some residents of the area may also consider the metropolitan area to include the towns of Markstay-Warren, St. Charles and French River, a region commonly known as Sudbury East, as well as the outlying unincorporated communities of Estaire and Cartier.