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A single "band" (First Nations government) may control one reserve or several, in addition some reserves are shared between multiple bands. In 2003, the
Of the 637,660 First Nations people who reported being Registered Indians, nearly one-half (49.3%) lived on an Indian reserve. This proportion varies across the country.
Many reserves have no resident population; typically they are small, remote, non-contiguous pieces of land, a fact which has led many to be abandoned, or used only seasonally (as a trapping territory, for example). Statistics Canada counts only those reserves which are populated (or potentially populated) as "subdivisions" for the purpose of the national census. For the 2011 census, of the more than 3,100 Indian reserves across Canada, there were only 961 Indian reserves classified as census subdivisions (including the 6 reserves added for 2011). Some reserves that were originally rural were gradually surrounded by urban development. Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary are examples of cities with urban reserves.