New census data shows the population of the metropolitan area of Toronto outpaced the national growth rate over the last five years — a period of time that saw the country spiral into the most serious economic tailspin since the Great Depression.

Statistics Canada released the first batch of numbers from the 2011 census on Wednesday and the population of what the government agency refers to as the census metropolitan area of Toronto increased by 9.2 per cent since the last census in 2006.

The area's growth rate was above the national growth rate of 5.9 per cent, while the population of Ontario increased by 5.7 per cent.

Census metropolitan areas do not conform to established municipal boundaries. Statistics Canada defines them as a metropolitan area with a population of at least 100,000, where the urban core of that area has at least 50,000 people. Commuting patterns and other factors are used in determining these census metropolitan areas. Looking at metropolitan areas this way takes in to account the growing impact of suburban areas on Canada's largest cities.

When the 2011 census was taken last May 10, the population of the census metropolitan area of Toronto was 5,583,064, compared with 5,113,149 from the 2006 census. The population of the actual city of Toronto was 2,615,060 up from 2,503,281 in 2006.

The census indicated that Toronto ranked No. 1 among the country's 33 census metropolitan areas.

Canada's population on census day was 33,476,688, Statistics Canada reported.

The national census is conducted every five years. The information published Wednesday is the first of several releases of data to come from Statistics Canada over the next year and longer that will eventually paint a detailed picture of the country, right down to the local level - including age breakdowns of the population, family makeup, languages spoken, immigration and ethnic origin, the level of education attained and income earned.

Ontario is still the country's most populous province, with a population of 12,851,821.

2011 census population figures for the Toronto region
Community 2011 2006 % change
       
Toronto 2,615,060 2,503,281 +4.5
Mississauga 713,443 668,599 +6.7
Brampton 523,911  433,806 +20.8
Caledon   59,460  57,050 + 4.2
Oakville 182,520 165,613 +10.2
Burlington    175,779 164,415 +6.9
Milton  84,362 53,889 +56.5
Halton Hills  59,008 55,289 +6.7
Pickering  88,721 87,838 +1.0
Ajax  109,600 90,167 +21.6
Oshawa 149,607 141,590 +5.7
Vaughan 288,301 238,866 +20.7
Markham 301,709 261,573 +15.3
Richmond Hill 185,541 162,704 +14.0
Whitchurch-Stouffville 37,628 24,390 +54.3
Aurora 53,203 47,629 +11.7
Newmarket 79,978 74,295 +7.6
King 19,899 19,487 +2.1
East Gwillimbury 22,473 21,069 +6.7
Georgina 43,517 42,346 +2.8
Brock 11,341 11,979 -5.3
Clarington 84,548 77,820 +8.6
Scugog 21,569 21,439 +0.6
Uxbridge 20,623 19,169 +7.6
Whitby 122,022 111,184 +9.7