Canada is the second largest country in the world by area, second only to Russia. Located north of the United States, it spans an area of almost ten million square kilometres, or 3.85 square miles. Although Canada is large, only about ten percent of it is habitable. For this reason, about 87% of Canada’s relatively small population of 37 million people live within 160 kilometres of the United States border.
Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories, as follows:
The capital city of Canada is Ottawa, located in Ontario. Each province has its own capital. The largest urban centres in Canada are Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
Many parts of Canada experience extreme weather, ranging from heatwaves in the summer to Arctic temperatures and weather conditions in the winter. The weather is highly variable across the country, and throughout the year.
The Indigenous Peoples are the original inhabitants of Canada. They lived on the land for thousands of years before the first French colony was established in 1535. After a series of armed conflicts and a period of British rule, the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were confederated on July 1, 1867. Canada eventually evolved into the ten provinces and three territories that exist today. Full independence was achieved over a period of time, culminating in independence from the United Kingdom in 1931, and the patriation of the constitution in 1982. The anniversary of confederation, July 1st, is now known as Canada Day, and is the biggest national holiday.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy that has Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. Most of the Queen’s roles, such as the swearing in of the Prime Minister and the dissolution of Parliament, are carried out by the Governor General, who acts as the Queen’s representative in Canada.
Canada is also a federal parliamentary democracy. The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is elected if the political party of which he or she is the leader wins the most seats in a federal election.
Canada is bilingual, with English and French as its official languages. The diversity that it is internationally known for results from widespread immigration and refugee resettlement from all over the world.
Canada has the tenth-largest economy in the world with the fifteenth-highest income per capita. It is known for its superior records of human rights and civil liberties, as well as the quality of its education. Canada’s largest trading partner and economic ally is the United States. Canada is part of many international groups and agreements, including the Commonwealth, the Francophonie, the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the G7, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.