Scarborough is a former independent city that was swallowed whole by Toronto during the great amalgamation of 1998. Its name comes from the English city of the same name because the town's bluffs along the shore of Lake Ontario reminded Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, of the white cliffs near her original home in England.
Today, though Scarborough still strives to maintain a separate identity, officially it is nothing more than the eastern portion of the city of Toronto. Residents of Toronto proper regard it derisively, nicknaming the area "Scarberia" due to its distance from downtown Toronto. Within the GTA Scarborough is also popularly regarded as a crime hub, although this perception is not supported statistically. Scarborough's city councillors blame the media for their poor image, saying that in cases of violence the location is given as “Scarborough” rather than as the intersection of two streets like it would be had it occurred in another part of the city.
Some areas of Scarborough are popular destinations for immigrants and refugees such as the Tamils from Sri Lanka who are arriving in the city of Toronto. Each ethnic group has its own enclave in which their culture, food, and language exist alongside English and Canada's older British descendant culture. Signage in these areas reflects this cultural melding, with some public signs displaying three or more languages.
Scarborough, although not overly close to downtown Toronto, is still within commuting distance. The area is laced with train, subway and bus routes that connect its neighbourhoods with each other and other areas and municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area. Scarborough doesn't have much of a car culture, however, as there is only one major highway that runs through the municipality.
Employment opportunities in Scarborough are less centered around scientific and technical services and more involved in manufacturing. Many well-known companies have their headquarters in Scarborough because of the cost of downtown Toronto office space. These companies include Toyota, Honda, CTV, President's Choice Financial, and Telus.
Overall, Scarborough has a lower urban density than the other areas of Toronto. This is due to its origin as a farming community. Some of these farms even still exist on the outskirts. Two waterways, the Highland Creek and the Rouge River make up almost 70% of the area of the municipality. Both rivers have been incorporated into numerous parks and green spaces, although for some of their lengths these rivers flow through steep gorges and ravines that are not able to be developed. All this green space gives Scarborough a reputation as one of the leafiest areas of Toronto. In fact, some areas of the Rouge River Valley are wholly undeveloped and still home to deer, foxes and coyotes.
Real estate in Scarborough is obviously much cheaper than in downtown Toronto. However, not many modern condos and housing projects are available as in the more urbanized sections. Some projects are being developed, but the area is largely known for small, single-family homes and apartments.