With a population close to 3 million people, the Montreal metropolitan area, second largest in Canada, is by far Quebec's most important powerhouse of economic activity, responsible for more than half the province's gross domestic product. The manufacturing, commercial, financial, academic and cultural performance of the metropolitan region clearly attests to its economic versatility. These sectors generate substantial trade within Quebec, with the rest of Canada and abroad. Montreal is also a North American shipping hub that enjoys a strategic position within the St. Lawrence Great Lakes Trade Corridor, by far Canada’s most important trade route. This function is primarily related to its effective and well-integrated transportation system: -A port which handles 38,04 million tons of mainly oceanic cargo, of which about half is containerized; -A rail system that benefits from two transcontinental railways serving Canada, the United States and Mexico; - An international airport with direct flights to 140 destinations; -A highway network fully integrated with the North American freeway system.