also known as the "Land of Opportunities" has been assessed as one of the
best countries in the world to live-in.
Some of the important facts about Canada are:
Canada is the world's second-largest country (9 970 610 km2),
surpassed only by the Russian Federation.
Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.
Provinces and Territories
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, each with its own capital city
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland and Labrador
Diversity is the keynote of Canada's geography, which includes fertile
plains suitable for agriculture, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers.
Wilderness forests give way to Arctic tundra in the Far North.
There are many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the
permanently frozen icecaps north of the 70th parallel to the luxuriant
vegetation of British Columbia's west coast. Canada's most populous regions,
which lie in the country's south along the U.S. border, enjoy four distinct
seasons. Here daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35°C and higher, while
lows of -25°C are not uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the
norm in spring and fall.
Parks and Historic Sites
Canada maintains 38 national parks, which cover about 2% of the country's
landmass. Banff, located on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains,
is the oldest (est. 1885); Tuktut Nogait, in the Northwest Territories, was
established in 1996. There are 836 national historic sites, designated in
honour of people, places and events that figure in the country's history.
Canada also has over 1000 provincial parks and nearly 50 territorial parks.
Canada's terrain incorporates a number of mountain ranges: the Torngats,
Appalachians and Laurentians in the east; the Rocky, Coastal and Mackenzie
ranges in the west; and Mount St. Elias and the Pelly Mountains in the
north. At 6050 m, Mount Logan in the Yukon is Canada's tallest peak.
There are some two million lakes in Canada, covering about 7.6% of the
Canadian landmass. The main lakes, in order of the surface area located in
Canada (many large lakes are traversed by the Canada-U.S. border), are
Huron, Great Bear, Superior, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Erie and Ontario. The
largest lake situated entirely in Canada is Great Bear Lake (31 326 km2)
in the Northwest Territories.
The St. Lawrence (3058 km long) is Canada's most important river, providing
a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The longest
Canadian river is the Mackenzie, which flows 4241 km through the Northwest
Territories. Other large watercourses include the Yukon and the Columbia
(parts of which flow through U.S. territory), the Nelson, the Churchill, and
the Fraser--along with major tributaries such as the Saskatchewan, the
Peace, the Ottawa, the Athabasca, and the Liard.
Canada has six time zones. The easternmost, in Newfoundland, is three hours
and 30 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The other time zones are
the Atlantic, the Eastern, the Central, the Rocky Mountain and, farthest
west, the Pacific, which is eight hours behind GMT.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a federal state with a democratic
parliament. The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa, consists of the House of
Commons, whose members are elected, and the Senate, whose members are
appointed. On average, members of Parliament are elected every four years.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canada's constitution contains a Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
which sets out certain fundamental freedoms and rights that neither
Parliament nor any provincial legislature acting alone can change. These
include equality rights, mobility rights, and legal rights, together with
freedoms such as speech, association, and peaceful assembly.
The maple leaf has been associated with Canada for some time: in 1868, it
figured in coats of arms granted to Ontario and Québec; and in both world
wars, it appeared on regimental badges. Since the 1965 introduction of the
Canadian flag, the maple leaf has become the country's most important
The Canadian Flag
Several people participated in designing the Canadian flag. Jacques St. Cyr
contributed the stylized maple leaf, George Bist the proportions, and Dr.
Gunter Wyszechi the colouration. The final determination of all aspects of
the new flag was made by a 15-member parliamentary committee, which is
formally credited with the design. After lengthy debate, the new flag was
adopted by Parliament. It officially became the national flag on February
15, 1965, now recognized as Canada's Flag Day.
was composed in 1880, with music by Calixa Lavallée and words by Judge
Adolphe-Basile Routhier. In 1908, Robert Stanley Weir wrote the translation
on which the present English lyric is based. On July 1, 1980, a century
after being sung for the first time, O Canada was proclaimed the
The Canadian dollar is divided into 100 cents.
As of the summer of 2006, Canada's population was over 31 million.
As of May 2006, the leading Canadian cities are Toronto (2,503,281),
Montreal (1,620,693), Vancouver (578,041), Ottawa-Hull, the National
Capital Region (812,129).
Distribution of Population
A large majority of Canadians, 77 percent, live in cities and towns.
Canada ranks sixth in the world in standard of living (measured according to
gross domestic product per capita), behind only the United States,
Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, and Japan. Canada's rank among nations
tends to rise even higher in assessments that consider GDP per capita along
with other factors (e.g., life expectancy, education) that contribute to
"quality of life."
Health Care and Social Security
Basic health care, with the exception of dental services, is free at the
point of delivery. And prescription drugs are in most cases dispensed
without charge to people over 65 and social aid recipients. Canada also has
an extensive social security network, including an old age pension, a family
allowance, unemployment insurance and welfare.
In 1996, about 3% of Canadians belonged to one or more of the three
Aboriginal groups recognized by the Constitution Act, 1982: North American
Indian, Métis, or Inuit. Of this percentage, about 69% are North American
Indian, 26% Métis, and 5% Inuit.
According to the 1991 census, more than four-fifths of Canadians are
Christian, with Catholics accounting for about 47% of the population and
Protestants about 36%. Other religions include Judaism, Islam, Hinduism,
Sikhism and Buddhism. Some 12.5%, more than any single denomination except
Roman Catholic, have no religious affiliation at all.
Canada has two official languages: English, the mother tongue of about 59%
of Canadians; and French, the first language of 23% of the population. A
full 18% have either more than one mother tongue or a mother tongue other
than English or French, such as Chinese, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish,
Portuguese, Punjabi, Ukrainian, Arabic, Dutch, Tagalog, Greek, Vietnamese,
Cree, Inuktitut, or other languages.
Official Languages Act makes French and English the official languages
of Canada and provides for special measures aimed at enhancing the vitality
and supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority
communities. Canada's federal institutions reflect the equality of its two
official languages by offering bilingual services.
In 1996, about 19% of the population reported "Canadian" as their single
ethnic origin, with 17% reporting British Isles-only ancestry and 9%
French-only ancestry. About 10% reported a combination of British Isles,
French, or Canadian origin, with another 16% reporting an ancestry of either
British Isles, French or Canadian in combination with some other origin.
Some 28% reported origins other than the British Isles, French or Canadian.
The educational system varies from province to province and includes six to
eight years of elementary school, four or five years of secondary school and
three or four years at the university undergraduate level. The 1996 census
revealed that, among Canadians aged 15 and over, about 23% had graduated
from secondary school, some 9% had bachelor's degrees, and about 6% had
Canada's most popular sports include swimming, ice hockey, cross-country and
alpine skiing, baseball, tennis, basketball and golf. Ice hockey and
lacrosse are Canada's national sports.
Main Natural Resources
The principal natural resources are natural gas, oil, gold, coal, copper,
iron ore, nickel, potash, uranium and zinc, along with wood and water.
These include automobile manufacturing, pulp and paper, iron and steel work,
machinery and equipment manufacturing, mining, extraction of fossil fuels,
forestry and agriculture.
Canada's leading exports are automobile vehicles and parts, machinery and
equipment, high-technology products, oil, natural gas, metals, and forest
and farm products.