Canada is a monarchy in North America and an autonomous part of the Commonwealth of Nations. The country includes the northern half of North America, with the exception of Alaska and Greenland.
Canada has an area of 9,984,671 square miles and is the second largest country in the world; only Russia is bigger. The country extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the east to the Pacific Ocean to the west and to the Arctic Ocean to the north. The south boundary to the United States follows the upper reaches of the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, and continues west along the 49th latitude. The country also borders the northwest toward the United States (Alaska). Canada includes Vancouver Island in the Pacific, Newfoundland in the Atlantic and a huge archipelago in the Arctic.
Canada has 36 503 097 inhabitants in 2017. The capital is Ottawa.
The original settlement in Canada was Inuit and Native American. Today, the majority of the population has a European background. The ties to neighboring US are close, but Canada is also linked to the former colonial countries of France and the United Kingdom. Today, the country is a well-developed agricultural and industrial country.
Geography and environment
Canada has the world’s longest coastline at 243,042 kilometers. The central parts of the country consist of a fertile plain. About 40 per cent of the area is wooded.
The westernmost region is characterized by the mountain ranges Coast Mountains and Rocky Mountains. The Åsland landscape in the east is a northern outlet of the Appalachian mountain range. In the west and south there are large and fertile inland plains (prairies) and agricultural areas. To the south there is also a wooded lowland around the Great Lakes (Great Lakes) and the St. Lawrence River. In the north there are tundra and many islands. Major islands are Vancouver Island in the west, Baffin Island in the north and Newfoundland in the east.
Canada has a rich wildlife, on the tundra in the north including polar bears, musk oxen and caribou. On the Pacific coast, several species of whales and seals live, in mountainous areas including cougar and snow goat. In the forests you will find black bears and grizzly bears.
Among the conifers are several species of spruce, larch and canadian cloves, of deciduous trees including birch and Canadian poplar, in the south also sugar maple, plane maple and black walnut. The mainland and the islands in the north have tundra vegetation.
The Pacific coast has a mild winter climate, the annual rainfall is more than 1000 millimeters. The inland plains have a continental climate with little rainfall. The east coast has a cool climate.
People and society
The population is unevenly distributed, most living southeast of Canada. Most of the inhabitants are of European origin, especially British (34 percent) and French (26 percent), the latter most in the province of Quebec. About 18 percent of the population comes from other countries and about 1.5 percent are Indians and Inuit.
Nearly 90 percent of the population lives within a 200-kilometer-wide belt north of the US border. The largest cities are Toronto (2.7 million inhabitants in 2016), Montreal (1.7 million inhabitants in 2016) and Vancouver (631,000 inhabitants in 2016). 81 percent of the population lives in urban areas.
The official languages are English (58.8 percent of the population) and French (21.6 percent of the population). In Québec, French is the only official language.
Canada has no official religion. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious community with about 45 percent of the population. Protestants make up more than 30 percent of the population.
State and politics
Canada is a federation of ten provinces and three territories. The country is an autonomous federal state that is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The executive rests formally with the monarch, who is represented by a Governor-General. The real power is exercised by the Federal Parliament with two chambers : The House of Commons, the Senate, has 105 members appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Commons has 338 members representing electoral districts.
Since November 4, 2015, Justin Trudeau of Canada’s Liberal Party is the country’s prime minister. In the past decade, the country’s foreign policy course has been different in several areas than the US, including differing views on the Iraq war in 2003, Afghanistan and the Arctic. Canada has increased its military presence in the northern areas.
The military service is voluntary. Canadian Forces (English) or Forces canadiennes (French) was created in 1968 after the merger of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Canada has been a member of NATO since 1949.
Canada is a member of the United Nations and UN agencies, including the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, among others the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), NAFTA (or the North American Free Trade Agreement according to abbreviationfinder), the OECD, APEC and the Organization of the United States.
The first people came to Canada via a land bridge in the Bering Strait about 30,000 years ago. Ancestors of the Inuit and Indians later spread in the northern areas.
The northern settlement of Newfoundland around the year 1000 became a short-lived episode. In 1497, Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) probably saw the Labrador coast, but as Canada’s discoverer is considered Jacques Cartier, who made four voyages between 1534 and 1543 and named the country Canada. A royal French colony was established in 1633. The Seven Years’ War of 1755-1762 between the British and French colonialists gave the British, who had founded the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670, dominion over Canada. In 1791, Canada was divided into the British Upper Canada and the French Lower Canada. The parts were merged into the autonomous province of Canada in 1840.
The country became the first British dominion in 1867. A transcontinental railroad between Montreal and Vancouver was completed in 1885, opening up large parts of Canada for immigration and cultivation.
A constitutional reform in 1982 gave Canada full independence from the United Kingdom. Long-term independence efforts in the province of Québec led to referendums for secession in 1980 and 1995. In the last poll, the majority to remain part of Canada was small.
The Nunavut Territory was created in 1999. Inuit then gained autonomy in 1/5 of Canada’s territory.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005.
Economy and business
Canada is rich in natural resources : Land – and forestry, extraction of minerals and fisheries are the main industries. The country is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of wood products, and of nickel, zinc, asbestos, pot ash and uranium. Gold, silver, copper, cobalt, iron ore and lead are also extracted.
The country is a major oil and gas producer. Most oil production takes place in Alberta ; mostly exported to the United States. There are oil fields off the Atlantic coast.
Much wheat is grown, especially in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as oats, barley, corn and potatoes. Cattle, pigs and poultry are the most important domestic animals. Canada is a major exporter of fish and other marine animals. About 80 per cent of the Atlantic coast and about 20 per cent of the Pacific catch are caught. There is considerable fur farming in British Columbia and New Brunswick.
The industry is linked to the country’s rich raw materials and with the manufacture of machinery, food, paper, chemical products and means of transport, among others. Important export products are fish and fish products, motor vehicles, paper and cellulose. Telecommunications equipment, machinery, transport equipment and foodstuffs constitute key parts of imports.
The service industry has the dominant part of the economy with 2/3 of GDP and employs 2/3 of workers. The public sector is very large.
By far, the largest trade is with the United States.
Knowledge and culture
Canada has a broad cultural life with many internationally renowned practitioners.
The literature is divided into a French-language and an English-language tradition. Examples of modern French-language writers are Victor Beaulieu and Rita Lasnier. Internationally renowned English-language modern writers include Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.
Environments such as The Group of Seven and Canadian Group of Painters have been crucial to the development of Canadian visual arts. A distinct Canadian theater culture grew after 1945. The New Plays Society, founded in 1946 and The Stratford Shakespearian Festival (1953-) became strong drivers in the development of English Canadian theater.
Canadian folk music has traditions associated with the various immigrant groups; British-Canadian and French-Canadian dominates. Famous names in popular music are Oscar Peterson, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bryan Adams. Céline Dion sings in both languages.
The world’s largest circus, Cirque du Soleil, is from Montreal. In the field of dance, the National Ballet of Canada is recognized.
Canadian film gained increasing international attention from the 1970s. Well-known actors are Genevieve Bujold, Richard Dreyfuss and Donald Sutherland.
Canada has a well-developed media sector, but movies, television shows and magazines are heavily influenced by US imports. The country had 122 English- and French-language daily newspapers in 2012, the largest being the Toronto Star. The public broadcaster is Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC / Société Radio-Canada (SRC)).
The country has one of the world’s most developed science and technology sectors.