The Halifax Regional Municipality (; commonly Halifax or HRM) is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The Regional Municipality had a population of 390,096 in 2011 Canadian Census and the urban area had a population of 297,943. Halifax is the largest population centre in Atlantic Canada and largest in Canada east of Quebec City. Halifax was ranked by MoneySense magazine as the fourth best place to live in Canada for 2012, placed first on a list of "large cities by quality of life" and placed second in a list of "large cities of the future", both conducted by fDi Magazine for North and South American cities.
Halifax is a major economic centre in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, various levels of government, and the Port of Halifax. Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of HRM.
The first permanent European settlement in the HRM was on the Halifax Peninsula. The establishment of the Town of Halifax, named after the British Earl of Halifax, in 1749 led to the colonial capital being transferred from Annapolis Royal.
The establishment of Halifax marked the beginning of Father Le Loutre's War. The war began when Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports and a sloop of war on June 21, 1749. By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War. Cornwallis brought along 1,176 settlers and their families. To guard against Mi'kmaq, Acadian, and French attacks on the new Protestant settlements, British fortifications were erected in Halifax (Citadel Hill)(1749), Bedford (Fort Sackville) (1749), Dartmouth (1750), and Lawrencetown (1754), all areas within the HRM. St. Margaret's Bay was first settled by French-speaking Foreign Protestants at French Village, Nova Scotia who migrated from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia during the American Revolution.
December 1917 saw one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS Imo in "The Narrows" between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. The resulting explosion, the Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 other. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons.
In 1996 the provincial government amalgamated all municipal governments within Halifax County to create HRM, a regional municipality comprising approximately 200 individual communities or placenames for civic addressing grouped into eighteen planning areas for zoning purposes.
HRM's boundary includes all of Halifax County except for several First Nation reserves. Statistics Canada identifies HRM as a census subdivision while Halifax County is listed as a census division, despite the fact that both geographic areas differ by only several dozen hectares. Statistics Canada also lists the dissolved municipalities of Bedford, Dartmouth and Halifax, describing them as "Dissolved (municipalities) having undergone an amalgamation/dissolution."
Unlike most municipalities with a sizable census metropolitan area, Halifax Regional Municipality's suburbs have been completely incorporated into the entire municipality (often by referendum. For example, the community of Spryfield, in the Mainland South area, voted to amalgamate with Halifax in 1968), with the urban area including the urban core, suburban communities and a rural commuter shed that encompasses almost half the municipality's landmass.