Canada

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Canada
Vertical triband (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the centre
Flag
Motto: "A Mari Usque Ad Mare" (Latin)
"From Sea to Sea"
(As seen on the Arms of Canada)
Anthem: "O Canada"
Royal anthem"God Save the Queen"[1]
Projection of North America with Canada in green
Capital Ottawa
45°24′N 75°40′W / 45.4°N 75.667°W / 45.4; -75.667
Official languages
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups
Demonym Canadian
Government Federal parliamentary
constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor General David Johnston
 -  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
 -  Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house House of Commons
Establishment from the United Kingdom
 -  Constitution Act July 1, 1867 
 -  Statute of Westminster December 11, 1931 
 -  Canada Act April 17, 1982 
Area
 -  Total 9,984,670 km2 (2nd)
3,854,085 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 8.92 (891,163 km2 / 344,080 mi2)
Population
 -  Q4 2014 estimate 35,675,834[2] (37th)
 -  2011 census 33,476,688[3]
 -  Density 3.41/km2 (228th)
8.3/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $1.518 trillion (13th)
 -  Per capita $43,146 (9th)
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $1.825 trillion (10th)
 -  Per capita $51,871 (10th)
Gini (2010) 33.7[4][5]
medium · 103rd
HDI (2013) Steady 0.902[6]
very high · 8th
Currency Canadian dollar ($) (CAD)
Time zone (UTC−3.5 to −8)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC−2.5 to −7)
Date format
  • dd-mm-yyyy
  • mm-dd-yyyy
  • yyyy-mm-dd (CE)
Drives on the right
Calling code +1
Internet TLD .ca

Canada (Listeni/ˈkænədə/; French: [ka.na.dɑ]) is a country in the northern half of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world's second-largest country by total area and the fourth-largest country by land area. Canada's Border with the United States is the world's longest land border. The majority of the country has a cold or severely cold winter climate, but southerly areas are warm in summer. Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land territory being dominated by forest and tundra and the Rocky Mountains. About four-fifths of the country's population of 36 million people is urbanized and live near the southern border. Its capital is Ottawa, its largest metropolis is Toronto; other major urban areas include Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hamilton.

Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the 16th century, British and French claims were made on the area, with the colony of Canada first being established by the French in 1537. As a consequence of various conflicts, the United Kingdom gained and lost territories within British North America until it was left, in the late 18th century, with what mostly geographically comprises Canada today. Pursuant to the British North America Act, on July 1, 1867, the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia to form the semi-federal Dominion. This began an accretion of provinces and territories to the mostly self-governing Dominion to the present ten provinces and three territories forming modern Canada.

In 1931, Canada achieved near total independence from the United Kingdom with the Statute of Westminster 1931, and full sovereignty was attained when the Canada Act 1982 removed the last remaining ties of legal dependence on the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being the head of state. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Its advanced economy is the eleventh largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.

Canada is a developed country and has the tenth highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the ninth highest ranking in the Human Development Index. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. Canada is a Commonwealth realm member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie, and part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G8, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Geography[change | change source]

Canada is the second largest country in the world in land area, after Russia.[7] It has the longest border with water (coastline) of any country in the world. It is next to the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans. It is the only country in the world to be next to three oceans at once. It has six time zones.[8][9]

Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. The provinces are between the 45th and 60th parallels of latitude, and the territories are to the north of the 60th parallel of latitude. Most large cities in Canada are in the southern part of the country, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. There are very few people living in the northern part of Canada.

Canada extends from the west coast, across the prairies and central Canada, to the Atlantic provinces. In the north there are three territories, stretching between Alaska and Greenland: the Yukon in the west, then the Northwest Territories, then Nunavut. Four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario) are shared between Canada and the United States (Lake Michigan is in the USA), and they make up 16% of the Earth's fresh water. The Saint Lawrence Seaway joins the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing ocean going vessels to travel as far inland as Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada.

Canada shares land and sea borders with the USA (the lower 48 states and Alaska), Denmark (Greenland), and France (St. Pierre and Miquelon — a small group of islands off the southern coast off the island of Newfoundland).

The geography of Canada is very different from place to place, from high alpine areas in the west, flat grasslands and prairies in the centre, and ancient shield rocks in the east. Canada contains some of the very last untouched boreal forest in the world.

The Canadian Shield is a vast area of ancient Pre-Cambrian rocks lying in an arc around Hudson Bay, covering more than one third of Canada's land area. This is a unique land of lakes, bogs, swamps, trees, and rocks. It is a terrain that is very dangerous and difficult to traverse cross country because of lakes, bogs, swamps, trees, and rocks. Canada has 60% of the world's lakes.

History[change | change source]

Indigenous (native) people lived in what is now Canada for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. They are known as the First Nations and the Inuit people. The Métis have part First Nations and part European backgrounds. Together, these three groups are called "Indigenous," "Aboriginal," or "First Peoples." They used to be called "Indians" by the Europeans, but this is now considered rude.

The Vikings were the first Europeans known to land in Canada, in what is now Newfoundland, led by the Viking explorer Leif Erikson. They did not stay there long, however. In the early 16th century, Europeans started exploring Canada's eastern coast, beginning with John Cabot from England in 1497, and later Jacques Cartier in 1534 from France. Alexander Mackenzie later reached the Pacific coast over land, where captains James Cook and George Vancouver went by sea. The Europeans also traded beaver furs to the First Nations.

Parts of Canada were settled by France, and parts by England and Scotland. In 1605, Port-Royal was built in Acadia (today called Nova Scotia) by the French, led by Samuel de Champlain, and in 1608 he started settling Quebec. The British took control of the French areas after a battle on the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City in 1759.

After the American Revolutionary War, many people in the new United States wanted to stay loyal to Britain. Thousands came north to Canada and settled in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. They were called United Empire Loyalists. During the War of 1812, the United States tried to conquer Canada but were defeated.

On July 1, 1867, Canada was united under a federal government. It included the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Sir John A. Macdonald was the first prime minister. Manitoba, the Yukon territory, and the Northwest Territories became part of Canada in 1870. British Columbia joined in 1871, and Prince Edward Island in 1873.

There were two Red River Rebellions, in 1869-70 and 1885, both led by Louis Riel. He fought for more rights for the Métis people, a mix between French and First Nations. A railroad across the country, the Canadian Pacific Railway, finished in 1885, made it easier for Canadians to move to the west. Many Europeans came to the prairies, so Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905.

Canadian soldiers fought in World War I for the British Empire. More Canadians died in this war than any other war. Canada became better known as a country after its success in capturing Vimy Ridge from the Germans in France in 1917. Women were given the right to vote by the end of the war, partly because of the help they gave making weapons while the men fought in Europe. In 1931, Canada became fully independent. From 1931 on the government of Canada made all decisions about Canada.

Crew of a Sherman-tank resting while parked
A Canadian crew during the battle of Normandy in June 1944.

Canadians also fought in World War II. The Dieppe Raid in 1942 went very badly and most of the soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Canadians were important in 1944 at Normandy, and they liberated the Netherlands (freed it from the Germans).

In 1949, Newfoundland and Labrador became the 10th province of Canada. In 1956, Canadian Lester Pearson, who later became prime minister, helped end the Suez Crisis. As a result, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1965, Pearson helped Canada get a new flag, the Maple Leaf. Before that, Canadians had used the Red Ensign. In 1982, Canada changed its constitution, including a new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The main part of the Constitution is still the 1867 British North America Act.

Some French Canadians today wish to form their own country, separate from the rest of Canada. The province of Quebec held a referendum (vote) in 1980, but only about 40% wanted to separate. Another referendum was held in 1995, with almost 50% voting in favour of leaving Canada. Since then, fewer people in Quebec have wanted to leave Canada, but it is still something that is important to Quebec politics.

Today, about 25% of Canadians speak French as their first language. Many people can speak both French and English. Although most French Canadians live in the province of Quebec, there are French-speaking communities and people all across Canada. For example, 40% of the people in the province of New Brunswick and 20% of those in Manitoba have a strong French background, as do some people in Ontario, mainly along its border with Quebec.

In 1999, Nunavut was created as Canada's third territory, out of the eastern Northwest Territories, in an agreement with the Inuit people.

After-tax, middle-class incomes in Canada now appear to be higher than those in the United States.[10]

Government[change | change source]

Canada has a government called a constitutional monarchy.[11] It has a monarch (meaning a king or queen is the head of that country), and is a democracy (meaning the people of that country rule it). The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is officially the Queen of Canada. She appoints a Governor General to represent her in the country, however, the choice of Governor General is made by the prime minister.

The Queen's powers are mostly exercised by the Governor General, currently David Johnston. The Governor General, like the Canadian sovereign (King/Queen of Canada), is not political and remains above politics, and because of that they do not usually use their powers without the advice of the Prime Minister or other ministers.

The head of government is the Prime Minister. The current prime minister is Justin Trudeau,[12] who replaced Stephen Harper in October 2015. Each province and territory has a premier to lead its government. The day-to-day operations of the government are run by the cabinet. The cabinet is usually formed from the largest party in Parliament.

The Parliament of Canada passes the laws of the country. The governor general, acting on behalf of the monarch, has the right to veto a law (meaning the law cannot go into effect) but this right has not been used for some time. There are five main parties in the Canadian Parliament: the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party. In addition to the five parties with MPs in Parliament, there are fourteen other smaller parties registered with Elections Canada and several MPs who sit as Independents.

Provinces and territories[change | change source]

Political map of Canada.png

Below is a list of provinces and territories. They are listed by population.

Provinces

Name Capital Largest city Entered
Confederation
Population
(2014)
Area
(km2)
Official
language
 Ontario Toronto Toronto 1867 13,678,700 1,076,395 English
 Quebec Quebec City Montreal 1867 8,214,700 1,542,056 French
 British Columbia Victoria Vancouver 1871 4,631,300 944,735 English
 Alberta Edmonton Calgary 1905 4,121,700 661,848 English
 Manitoba Winnipeg Winnipeg 1870 1,282,000 647,797 English
 Saskatchewan Regina Saskatoon 1905 1,125,400 651,036 English
 Nova Scotia Halifax Halifax 1867 942,700 55,284 English
 New Brunswick Fredericton Saint John 1867 753,900 72,908 English and French
 Newfoundland and Labrador St. John's St. John's 1949 527,000 405,212 English
 Prince Edward Island Charlottetown Charlottetown 1873 146,300 5,660 English
Territories
 Northwest Territories Yellowknife Yellowknife 1870 41,462 1,346,106 multiple
 Yukon Whitehorse Whitehorse 1898 33,897 482,443 English and French
 Nunavut Iqaluit Iqaluit 1999 31,906 2,093,190 multiple

Climate and its influence[change | change source]

Many people from other parts of the world think of Canada as a very cold and snowy place. While it is true that much of Canada is very far north, most Canadians live in the southern parts, where the weather is much milder. Nearly two thirds of Canadians live less than 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the U.S. border.[13] In some cities the temperature can get very cold in the winter, especially in the inland.[14] Warm air systems moving in from the Pacific Ocean bring more rain than snow to the Pacific coast, while colder temperatures further inland do result in snow. Most of Canada can get quite hot in the summer, often over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).[15]

Canadians are known to play winter sports such as ice hockey and skiing and snowboarding, and also enjoy many summer sports and games.

Natural resources[change | change source]

Peyto Lake in Alberta.

Canada has lots of natural resources. Its large amounts of fish have been used for centuries for food and money. Hydroelectric power (electricity by water) is abundant because of Canada's many rivers.[16] Forests of the west are used for wood. Besides these renewable resources, Canada has metal ores and oil deposits. Also, Canada is the leading exporter of zinc, uranium, gold, nickel, aluminum, steel and lead.[17]

Demographics[change | change source]

Around 35 million people live in Canada. This is almost the same number as in the U.S. state of California. Most people live in the southern parts of Canada.

A large number of immigrants from almost every part of the world come to live in Canada.[18] One example is the former Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, who came to Canada as a young child with her family from Haiti in 1968. Today, up to 1/5th of the population is an immigrant to Canada.

Travel requirements for US citizens[change | change source]

American citizens do not need a visa or an eTA to visit or transit Canada. However, American citizens must carry proper travel documents and identification.

References[change | change source]

  1. D. Michael Jackson (Chief of protocol for the Government of Saskatchewan) (2013). The Crown and Canadian Federalism. Dundurn. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-4597-0989-8. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZcIf46DzpfUC&pg=PA199.
  2. "CANSIM - 051-0005 - Estimates of population, Canada, provinces and territories". Statistics Canada. December 17, 2014. http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&retrLang=eng&id=0510005&paSer=&pattern=&stByVal=1&p1=1&p2=31&tabMode=dataTable&csid=. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
  3. Statistics Canada (January 30, 2013). "Population and dwelling counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, 2011 and 2006 censuses". http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2011/dp-pd/hlt-fst/pd-pl/Table-Tableau.cfm?LANG=Eng&T=101&S=50&O=A. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  4. "GINI index". The World Bank. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SI.POV.GINI. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  5. "Country Comparison: Distribution Of Family Income – Gini Index". World Factbook. CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2172rank.html. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  6. "Table 1: Human Development Index and its components". UNDP. http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/table-1-human-development-index-and-its-components. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  7. "BBC Newes". Canada country profile. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1198865.stm. Retrieved 6/17/2016.
  8. Natural Resources Canada. Standard Time Zones [map], 6923 edition, 1:20000000, Atlas of Canada, 6th Edition. (2007)
  9. Canada's Time Zones
  10. The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest April 22, 2014 New York Times
  11. Amanda, Briney. "About.com: geography and overview of Canada". http://geography.about.com/od/atlas/a/canada.html. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  12. Official Government of Canada website. "PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA". http://pm.gc.ca/eng/pm.asp. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
  13. http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2006/as-sa/97-550/vignettes/a1-eng.cfm
  14. http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/phys08b-eng.htm
  15. http://www.cfls-elfc.forces.gc.ca/canada/weather-temps-eng.asp
  16. "Natural Resources Canada". http://nrcan.gc.ca/eneene/sources/eleele/index-eng.php. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
  17. Brendan Marshall, Director, Economic Affairs (2014). "Facts & Figures 2014 - The Mining Association of Canada". The Mining Association of Canada. http://mining.ca/sites/default/files/documents/Facts_and_Figures_2014.pdf. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
  18. Ayabe Hisao; Iino Syouko (2003). Canadawosirutameno60syou(60 chapters about Canada). Tokyo: Akaisi. pp. 314.

Other websites[change | change source]