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Before the city was founded, the area now known as Sapporo was inhabited by the Ainu people. It was not until the mid-1800s that a canal was built in the region, encouraging Japanese settlers to move into the region. The city was officially founded in 1868, when the Meiji government moved the capital of the island of Hokkaido from Hakodate to Sapporo, which was situated on flat land more suitable for defense and urban development.
Shortly after the founding of Sapporo, the Odori Park was built. The park stands to this day in the center of Sapporo, splitting the city in half. The rest of the city is organized according to a grid system, highly unusual for a Japanese city even in modern times.
The city quickly developed as people moved north to Hokkaido from the main island of Honshu. In 1850, the town was nonexistent; today, the city of Sapporo boasts a population of nearly two million. As a relatively new city by Japanese standards, Sapporo’s architecture is mostly modern and there are few traditional-style buildings.