Squamish has 14,000 residents and lies on the Sea to Sky Highway along Howe Sound, between Horseshoe Bay and Whistler. The town is named for the Skwxw˙mesh First Nation that lived in the area. Today, there are nine Indian Reserves that are wholly or partly within the District of Squamish. Together these Squamish Nation reserves represent approximately 4% of the total land area of the municipality,
Squamish as a town had its beginning during the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in the 1910s which became part of the Canadian National Railway. Transportation and forestry were the town's key industries, though the Western Pulp mill closed down in 2006. Since then the town has evolved into a bedroom community to the very expensive and overcrowded Whistler resort town to the north.
Squamish has five key neighbourhoods: Garibaldi Estates (1000 homes), Garibaldi Highlands (900 homes), Brackendale (1000 homes) and Valleycliffe/Hospital Hill (800homes), and downtown (400 homes)
There are 10 neighbourhood and 16 community parks owned by the municipality, totalling 59 hectares (146 acres). Urban recreation facilities include fields for soccer, baseball, field hockey, tennis courts and a running track.
Tourist attractions include Shannon Falls waterfall, and the Stawamus Chief granite cliff popular with rock climbers. There are some steep hiking trails around the back to access the three peaks forming the cliff, and all those climbing to the top (702 m / 2303 ft) are rewarded with great panoramic views of Howe Sound. There are over 1200 rock climbing routes in the Squamish area, plus 300 more on the road to Whistler. In recent years, Squamish is also popular with mountain bikers, with 600 trails around the town. Other recreations in and around town are golfing, river-rafting, wind surfing and kite surfing; snowmobiling, backcountry skiing, and birdwatching (Brackendale has one of North America's largest populations of bald eagles).
Squamish is served by seven elementary schools (Brackendale, Garibaldi Highlands, Mamquam, Squamish Elementary, Stawamus Elementary and Valleycliffe Elementary) and two secondary schools (Howe Sound Secondary School and Don Ross Secondary School) and is the board office for the Howe Sound School District #48 . Capilano College has a Squamish campus, offering both diploma programs and university transfer courses. Quest University Canada opened a campus as Canada's first private, non-profit, secular university.
Squamish has a strong retail sector, with two-thirds of the stores located in Downtown Squamish, including the gateway from Highway 99.
About two-thirds of Squamish residences were single-family dwellings. Approximately one tenth were apartment buildings and 1/12 were townhouses another 1/12 semi-detached dwellings and 1/12 mobile homes. Nearly two thirds of Squamish's housing was built after 1970, and only 4% was built before the end of World War II (1945).
There are many new single family homes and condominium developments being built, especially in anticipation of the tight housing & tourist accommodation situation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler. Most future hosing growth is in the areas north of Garibaldi Highlands/Estates and north and east of the Valleycliffe neighbourhood.