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Canada - The Land of The Maple Tree

Projection of North America with Canada in green 

Canada ( /ˈkænədə/) is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area. Canada's common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world.

The land that is now Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.

Canada is a federal state that is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. One of the world's highly developed countries, Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G7, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth of Nations, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and UN. With the eighth-highest Human Development Index globally, it has one of the highest standards of living in the world.


Canada occupies a major northern portion of North America, sharing the land borders with the contiguous United States to the south and the U.S. state of Alaska to the northwest, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean.By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area, Canada ranks fourth.

The country lies between latitudes 41° and 84°N, and longitudes 52° and 141°W. Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60° and 141°W longitude, but this claim is not universally recognized. The northernmost settlement in Canada (and in the world) is Canadian Forces Station Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island—latitude 82.5°N—817 kilometres (450 nautical miles, 508 miles) from the North Pole Much of the Canadian Arctic is covered by ice and permafrost. Canada also has the longest coastline in the world: 202,080 kilometres (125,570 mi).

Since the last glacial period Canada has consisted of eight distinct forest regions, including extensive boreal forest on the Canadian Shield. Canada has more lakes than any other country, containing much of the world's fresh water.There are also fresh-water glaciers in the Canadian Rockies and the Coast Mountains. Canada is geologically active, having many earthquakes and potentially active volcanoes, notably Mount Meager, Mount Garibaldi, Mount Cayley, and the Mount Edziza volcanic complex. The volcanic eruption of Tseax Cone in 1775 caused a catastrophic disaster, killing 2,000 Nisga'a people and destroying their village in the Nass River valley of northern British Columbia; the eruption produced a 22.5-kilometre (14.0 mi) lava flow, and according to legend of the Nisga'a people, it blocked the flow of the Nass River.

The population density, 3.3 inhabitants per square kilometre (8.5 /sq mi), is among the lowest in the world. The most densely populated part of the country is the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, situated in Southern Quebec and Southern Ontario along the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River.

Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary according to the location. Winters can be harsh in many regions of the country, particularly in the interior and Prairie provinces, which experience a continental climate, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C (5 °F) but can drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) with severe wind chills.In noncoastal regions, snow can cover the ground almost six months of the year (more in the north). Coastal British Columbia has a temperate climate, with a mild and rainy winter. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C (70s °F), while between the coasts, the average summer high temperature ranges from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F), with occasional extreme heat in some interior locations exceeding 40 °C (104 °F).


The Canada 2006 Census counted a total population of 31,612,897, an increase of 5.4 percent since 2001. Population growth is from immigration and, to a lesser extent, natural growth. About four-fifths of Canada's population lives within 150 kilometres (93 mi) of the United States border.A similar proportion live in urban areas concentrated in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, the BC Lower Mainland, and the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor in Alberta.In common with many other developed countries, Canada is experiencing a demographic shift towards an older population, with more retirees and fewer people of working age. In 2006, the average age of the population was 39.5 years.

According to the 2006 census, the largest self-reported ethnic origin is Canadian (32%), followed by English (21%), French (15.8%), Scottish (15.1%), Irish (13.9%), German (10.2%), Italian (4.6%), Chinese (4.3%), First Nations (4.0%), Ukrainian (3.9%), and Dutch (3.3%). There are 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands encompassing 1,172,790 people.

Canada's Aboriginal population is growing at almost twice the national rate, and 3.8 percent of Canada's population claimed aboriginal identity in 2006. Another 16.2 percent of the population belonged to a non-aboriginal visible minority.The largest visible minority groups in Canada are South Asian (4.0%), Chinese (3.9%) and Black (2.5%). Between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population rose by 27.2 percent In 1961, less than two percent of Canada's population (about 300,000 people) could be classified as belonging to a visible minority group and less than 1% as aboriginal.As of 2007, almost one in five Canadians (19.8%) were foreign-born. Nearly 60 percent of new immigrants come from Asia (including the Middle East).The leading emigrating countries to Canada were China, Philippines and India.By 2031, one in three Canadians could belong to a visible minority group.

Canada has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world,driven by economic policy and family reunification, and is aiming for between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2011, the same number of immigrants as in recent years.New immigrants settle mostly in major urban areas like Toronto and Vancouver.Canada also accepts large numbers of refugees.The country resettles over one in 10 of the world’s refugees.

According to the 2001 census, 77.1 percent of Canadians identify as being Christians; of this, Catholics make up the largest group (43.6% of Canadians). The largest Protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada (9.5% of Canadians), followed by the Anglicans (6.8%), Baptists (2.4%), Lutherans (2%), and other Christians (4.4%). About 16.5 percent of Canadians declare no religious affiliation, and the remaining 6.3 percent are affiliated with non-Christian religions, the largest of which is Islam (2.0%), followed by Judaism (1.1%).

Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for education. Each system is similar, while reflecting regional history, culture and geography. The mandatory school age ranges between 5–7 to 16–18 years, contributing to an adult literacy rate of 99 percent. In 2002, 43 percent of Canadians aged 25 to 64 possessed a post-secondary education; for those aged 25 to 34, the rate of post-secondary education reached 51 percent.


Canada's two official languages are English and French. Official bilingualism is defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Official Languages Act, and Official Language Regulations; it is applied by the Commissioner of Official Languages. English and French have equal status in federal courts, Parliament, and in all federal institutions. Citizens have the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French, and official-language minorities are guaranteed their own schools in all provinces and territories.

English and French are the first languages of 59.7 and 23.2 percent of the population respectively. Approximately 98 percent of Canadians speak English or French: 57.8% speak English only, 22.1% speak French only, and 17.4% speak both. English and French Official Language Communities, defined by First Official Language Spoken, constitute 73.0 and 23.6 percent of the population respectively.

The Charter of the French Language makes French the official language in Quebec.Although more than 85 percent of French-speaking Canadians live in Quebec, there are substantial Francophone populations in Ontario, Alberta, and southern Manitoba; Ontario has the largest French-speaking population outside Quebec. New Brunswick, the only officially bilingual province, has a French-speaking Acadian minority constituting 33 percent of the population. There are also clusters of Acadians in southwestern Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, and through central and western Prince Edward Island.

Other provinces have no official languages as such, but French is used as a language of instruction, in courts, and for other government services in addition to English. Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec allow for both English and French to be spoken in the provincial legislatures, and laws are enacted in both languages. In Ontario, French has some legal status but is not fully co-official. There are 11 Aboriginal language groups, made up of more than 65 distinct dialects. Of these, only Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway have a large enough population of fluent speakers to be considered viable to survive in the long term. Several aboriginal languages have official status in the Northwest Territories.Inuktitut is the majority language in Nunavut, and one of three official languages in the territory.

Over six million people in Canada list a non-official language as their mother tongue. Some of the most common non-official first languages include Chinese (mainly Cantonese; 1,012,065 first-language speakers), Italian (455,040), German (450,570), Punjabi (367,505) and Spanish (345,345). and the languages most spoken at home by 68.3 percent and 22.3 percent of the population respectively.

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