A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across an unfortified border.
Northern North America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean on the east, North Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Arctic Ocean on the north, north of the conterminous US. Canada occupies a strategic location between Russia and US via north polar route.
60 00 N, 95 00 W
Canada is the second largest country in world (after Russia).
Area total: 9,984,670 sq km
Land: 9,093,507 sq km
Water: 891,163 sq km
Distances in Canada are measured in kilometers. Canada is over 7,000 kilometers from east to west.
Canada’s population was estimated to be at about 32, 487, 208 in July of 2009. Approximately 80 percent of the population of Canada lives in towns and cities concentrated within 160 km of the United States border.
Ottawa is Canada’s capital city, with a population of nearly one million. It is located in the province of Ontario. Canada’s largest cities are Toronto, Ontario (5.3 million people); Montreal, Quebec (3.6 million); and Vancouver, British Columbia (2.2 million).
Canada’s natural terrain consists of mostly plains with mountains in the west and lowlands in southeast.
Canada consists of 10 provinces and three territories in five main regions: the Atlantic region, Central Canada, the Prairies, the West Coast and the North. The culture and population are different in each region.
The Atlantic region consists of the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Activities such as fishing, farming, forestry, tourism and mining are important to the Atlantic economy.
Central Canada consists of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. This is the most populated region of the country. Together, Ontario and Quebec produce more than three-quarters of all Canadian manufactured goods.
The Prairies include the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Much of the land is flat and fertile, excellent for farming and rich in energy resources. In western Alberta, the Prairies end and the Rocky Mountains begin. The Canadian Rockies include some of the largest peaks in North America.
On the West Coast, the province of British Columbia is famous for its mountain ranges and forests. Natural resources such as lumber and fish are important to the economy. Fruit farming is also a major industry, as is tourism.
The North consists of Canada’s three territories: Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Together, they make up over one-third of Canada’s land mass. Northern resources include oil, natural gas, gold, lead and zinc.
Iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas, and hydropower.
Canada has a diversified economy. Natural resources industries, such as forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction, farming and fishing, are important sources of jobs and export earnings. Canada is also a world leader in the fields of telecommunications, biotechnology, aerospace technologies and pharmaceuticals. More and more jobs involve work in service industries or in information technology.
As an affluent, high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and affluent living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban.
Given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant, Canada has enjoyed solid economic growth, and prudent fiscal management has produced consecutive balanced budgets from 1997 to 2007. In 2008, growth slowed sharply as a result of the global economic downturn, US housing slump, plunging auto sector demand, and a drop in world commodity prices. Public finances, too, are set to deteriorate for the first time in a decade. Tight global credit conditions have further restrained business and housing investment, despite the conservative lending practices and strong capitalization that made Canada's major banks among the most stable in the world.
Canada has a decimal system of currency. The Canadian dollar is the basic unit of money. The most common paper bills are the $5, $10 and $20, but $50 and $100 bills are also used. Canadian coins include the penny (one cent), nickel (five cents), dime (10 cents), quarter (25 cents), loonie ($1) and toonie ($2).
Along with the United States and Mexico, Canada is a partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US, its principle trading partner. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with the US, which absorbs nearly 80% of Canadian exports each year. Canada is the US's largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, uranium, and electric power.
Canada’s Governing structure can be described as a parliamentary democracy, a federation, and a Commonwealth realm.
Canada is a federation, with a parliamentary system of government. Being a federation means that powers and responsibilities are divided between the federal government and the 10 provincial governments. Canada also has three territorial jurisdictions. Canada has three levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal (cities and towns). These governments are elected by the citizens of Canada.
(Government of Canada)
The federal government is responsible for:
foreign policy and foreign relations;
the postal service;
Provincial governments are responsible for:
They also share responsibility with the federal government for:
The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut are not sovereign units. They get their powers from the federal parliament, but they have elected assemblies that follow many of the same practices as the provincial governments.
Municipal governments have functions delegated to them by other levels of government. They are responsible for local matters and services. These include:
police and fire protection;
water and sewer services;
local public transportation.