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The area was first settled by Europeans in 1812, when the North West Company established a fur trading post. The community was named after the narrow passage between lakes Manitoba and Portage la Prairie (now part of Lake Winnipeg). This is where explorers would portage from one river system to another; hence "Portage". In 1872, it became incorporated as a town. It achieved city status in 1912. In recent years Portage la Prairie has become known for its high proportion of immigrants to Canada: according to Statistics Canada data released on February 8, 2006 there were 1,845 people who identified themselves as being born outside of Canada which represents approximately 20% of the population at that time making it one of three cities with this distinction (the others are Calgary and Vancouver). Of these immigrants 565 came from India while another 495 came from China putting those two countries at number one and two respectively among all Canadian cities.