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Vertical triband (red, white, red) with a red maple leaf in the centre of the white A shield divided into four rectangles over a triangle. The first rectangle contains three lions passant guardant in gold on a red background; the second, a red lion rampant on a gold background; the third, a gold harp on a blue background; the fourth, three gold fleurs-de-lis on a blue background. The triangle contains three red maple leaves on one stem over a white background. A gold helmet with a veil of red and white maple leaves sits on top of the shield, upon which stands a crowned lion holding a red maple leaf, with a larger crown over its head. On the right is a lion rampant flying the Union Flag. On the left is a unicorn wearing a gold chain from a crown collar, flying a blue flag with three fleurs-de-lis. Both animals hold a red ribbon that goes around the shield, which says "desiderantes meliorem patriam". Below the animals and shield is a blue scroll inscribed with the motto "A mari usque ad mare", which sits on a wreath of flowers.
Flag Arms
MottoA Mari Usque Ad Mare  (Latin)
"From Sea to Sea"
Anthem"O Canada"
Royal anthem"God Save the Queen"
Projection of North America with Canada in green
Capital Ottawa
45°24′N 75°40′W / 45.4°N 75.667°W / 45.4; -75.667
Largest city Toronto
Official language(s) English and French
Recognised regional languages Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, Cree, Dëne Sųłiné, Gwich’in, Inuvialuktun, Slavey and Tłįchǫ Yatiì[1]
Demonym Canadian
Government Federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy[2]
 -  Monarch HM Queen Elizabeth II
 -  Governor General Michaëlle Jean
 -  Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Legislature Parliament
 -  Upper House Senate
 -  Lower House House of Commons
 -  British North America Acts July 1, 1867 
 -  Statute of Westminster December 11, 1931 
 -  Canada Act April 17, 1982 
 -  Total 9,984,670 km2 (2nd)
3,854,085 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 8.92 (891,163 km2/344,080 mi2)
 -  2010 estimate 34,038,000 [3] (36th)
 -  2006 census 31,241,030[4] 
 -  Density 3.41/km2 (228th)
8.3/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.300 trillion[5] (14th)
 -  Per capita $39,098[5] (13th)
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.499 trillion[5] (9th)
 -  Per capita $45,085[5] (18th)
Gini  32.1 (2005)[6] 
HDI (2009) 0.966[7] (very high) (4th)
Currency Dollar ($) (CAD)
Time zone (UTC−3.5 to −8)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC−2.5 to −7)
Date formats dd-mm-yyyy, mm-dd-yyyy, and yyyy-mm-dd (CE)
Drives on the Right
Internet TLD .ca
Calling code +1
Canada portal

Canada Pronunciation: /ˈkænədə/ is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending 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 occupied by Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal people. 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.[8][9] 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 of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.

A federation consisting of ten provinces and three territories, Canada 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 G8, G-20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and UN.



The name Canada comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement". In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier towards the village of Stadacona.[10] Cartier later used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village, but also the entire area subject to Donnacona (the chief at Stadacona); by 1545, European books and maps had begun referring to this region as Canada.[10]

From the early 17th century onwards, that part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes was named Canada. The area was later split into two British colonies, Upper Canada and Lower Canada. They were re-unified as the Province of Canada in 1841.[11] Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country, and Dominion (a term from Psalm 72:8)[12] was conferred as the country's title. Combined, the term Dominion of Canada was in common usage until the 1950s.[13] As Canada asserted its political autonomy from the United Kingdom, the federal government increasingly used simply Canada on state documents and treaties, a change that was reflected in the renaming of the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1982.[13]


Aboriginal peoples

Aboriginal Canadian traditions maintain that the indigenous people have resided on their lands since the beginning of time. Archaeological studies support a human presence in the northern Yukon from 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario from 9,500 years ago.[14][15] The aboriginal population is estimated to have been between 200,000 and two million in the late 1400s. Repeated outbreaks of European infectious diseases such as influenza, measles and smallpox, to which they had no natural immunity, combined with other effects of European contact, resulted in a possible eighty-five to ninety-five percent aboriginal population decrease post-contact.[16][17] During the late 1630s, smallpox killed over half of the Huron, who controlled most of the early fur trade in what became Canada. Reduced to fewer than 10,000 people, the Huron were attacked by the Iroquois, their traditional enemies.[18]

European colonization

A group of men in military uniforms crowded around a dying red-coated man. Three men crouch beside him, and a native man looks on. The background is large groups of men with guns
Benjamin West's The Death of General Wolfe (1771) dramatizes Wolfe's death during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec in 1759. The battle was part of the Seven Years' War.

Europeans first arrived when the Vikings settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows around AD 1000; after the failure of that colony, there was no known further attempt at Canadian exploration until 1497, when John Cabot explored Canada's Atlantic coast for England. In 1534 Jacques Cartier explored Canada for France.[19]

French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608.[20] Among French colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively settled the Saint Lawrence River valley and Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade.[21]

The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and established the Thirteen Colonies to the south.[22] A series of four Intercolonial Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763.[23] Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded Canada and most of New France to Britain after the Seven Years' War.[24]

The Royal Proclamation (1763) carved the Province of Quebec out of New France and annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia.[13] In 1769, St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony.[25] To avert conflict in Quebec, the British passed the Quebec Act of 1774, expanding Quebec's territory to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. It re-established the French language, Catholic faith, and French civil law in Quebec. This angered many residents of the Thirteen Colonies and helped to fuel the American Revolution.[13]

The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. Approximately 50,000 United Empire Loyalists fled the United States to Canada.[26] New Brunswick was split from Nova Scotia as part of a reorganization of Loyalist settlements in the Maritimes. To accommodate English-speaking Loyalists in Quebec, the Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the province into French-speaking Lower Canada (later the province of Quebec) and English-speaking Upper Canada (later Ontario), granting each its own elected Legislative Assembly.[27]

Canada (Upper and Lower) was the main front in the War of 1812 between the United States and the British Empire. Following the war, large-scale immigration to Canada from Britain and Ireland began in 1815.[28] From 1825 to 1846, 626,628 European immigrants landed at Canadian ports.[29] Between one-quarter and one-third of all Europeans who immigrated to Canada before 1891 died of infectious diseases.[17] The timber industry surpassed the fur trade in economic importance in the early nineteenth century.

A group of formal older men in suits sit around a table, upon which there are several pieces of paper
Robert Harris's Fathers of Confederation[30] is an amalgamation of scenes from the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences.

The desire for responsible government resulted in the aborted Rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report subsequently recommended responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into British culture.[13] The Act of Union 1840 merged The Canadas into a united Province of Canada. Responsible government was established for all British North American provinces by 1849.[31]

The signing of the Oregon Treaty by Britain and the United States in 1846 ended the Oregon boundary dispute, extending the border westward along the 49th parallel. This paved the way for British colonies on Vancouver Island (1849) and in British Columbia (1858).[32] Canada launched a series of western exploratory expeditions to claim Rupert's Land and the Arctic region.

Confederation and expansion

Following several constitutional conferences, the Constitution Act, 1867 brought about Confederation, creating "one Dominion under the name of Canada" on July 1, 1867, with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.[8][33] Canada assumed control of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to form the Northwest Territories, where the Métis' grievances ignited the Red River Rebellion and the creation of the province of Manitoba in July 1870.[34] British Columbia and Vancouver Island (which had united in 1866) and the colony of Prince Edward Island joined the Confederation in 1871 and 1873, respectively.[35] Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's Conservative government established a national policy of tariffs to protect nascent Canadian manufacturing industries.[36]

To open the West, the government sponsored construction of three trans-continental railways (most notably the Canadian Pacific Railway), opened the prairies to settlement with the Dominion Lands Act, and established the North-West Mounted Police to assert its authority over this territory.[37][38] In 1898, after the Klondike Gold Rush in the Northwest Territories, the Canadian government created the Yukon territory. Under Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, continental European immigrants settled the prairies, and Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905.[35]

Early 20th century

Britain's declaration of war in 1914 automatically entered Canada into World War I.[39] Volunteers sent to the Western Front later became part of the Canadian Corps.[39] The Corps played a substantial role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and other major battles of the war.[39] Out of approximately 625,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 173,000 were wounded.[40] The Conscription Crisis of 1917 erupted when conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden brought in compulsory military service over the objection of French-speaking Quebecers.[39] In 1919, Canada joined the League of Nations independently of Britain[39] and in 1931, the Statute of Westminster affirmed Canada's independence.[41]

A group of soldiers with guns march on uneven ground past a wrecked tank and the body of another soldier
Canadian soldiers won the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.

The Great Depression brought economic hardship to all of Canada. In response, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Alberta and Saskatchewan enacted many measures of a welfare state as pioneered by Tommy Douglas in the 1940s and 1950s.[42] Canada declared war on Germany independently during World War II under Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, three days after Britain. The first Canadian Army units arrived in Britain in December 1939.[39]

Canadian troops played important roles in the Battle of the Atlantic, the failed 1942 Dieppe Raid in France, the Allied invasion of Italy, the D-Day landings, the Battle of Normandy, and the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944.[39] Canada provided asylum and protection for the monarchy of the Netherlands while that country was occupied, and is credited by the Netherlands for leadership and major contribution to the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi Germany.[43] The Canadian economy boomed as industry manufactured military materiel for Canada, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. Despite another Conscription Crisis in Quebec, Canada finished the war with one of the largest armed forces in the world.[44] In 1945, during the war, Canada became one of the founding members of the United Nations.[39]

Modern times

The Dominion of Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador), at the time equivalent in status to Canada and Australia as a Dominion, joined Canada in 1949. Canada's growth, combined with the policies of successive Liberal governments, led to the emergence of a new Canadian identity, marked by the adoption of the current Maple Leaf Flag in 1965,[45] the implementation of official bilingualism (English and French) in 1969,[46] and official multiculturalism in 1971.[47] There was also the founding of socially democratic programmes, such as universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada Student Loans, though provincial governments, particularly Quebec and Alberta, opposed many of these as incursions into their jurisdictions.[48] Finally, another series of constitutional conferences resulted in the patriation of Canada's constitution from the United Kingdom, concurrent with the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[49]

At the same time, Quebec was undergoing profound social and economic changes through the Quiet Revolution, giving birth to a nationalist movement in the province and the more radical Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), whose actions ignited the October Crisis in 1970.[50] A decade later, an unsuccessful referendum on sovereignty-association was held in 1980,[50] after which attempts at constitutional amendment failed in 1990. A second referendum followed in 1995, in which sovereignty was rejected by a slimmer margin of just 50.6% to 49.4%.[51] In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that unilateral secession by a province would be unconstitutional, and the Clarity Act was passed by parliament, outlining the terms of a negotiated departure from Confederation.[51]

Government and politics

Canada has a parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions. Parliament is composed of The Crown, an elected House of Commons, and an appointed Senate. Each Member of Parliament in the House of Commons is elected by simple plurality in an electoral district or riding. General elections must be called by the prime minister within five years of the previous election, or may be triggered by the government losing a confidence vote in the House.[52]

Members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, are chosen by the prime minister and formally appointed by the Governor General and serve until age 75.[53] Four parties had representatives elected to the federal parliament in the 2008 elections: the Conservative Party of Canada (governing party), the Liberal Party of Canada (the Official Opposition), the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Bloc Québécois. The list of historical parties with elected representation is substantial.

Canada's federal structure divides government responsibilities between the federal government and the ten provinces. Provincial legislatures are unicameral and operate in parliamentary fashion similar to the House of Commons.[54] Canada's three territories also have legislatures, but with fewer constitutional responsibilities than the provinces and with some structural differences (for example, the legislative assemblies of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have no parties and operate on consensus).[55][56][57]

Canada is also a constitutional monarchy, with The Crown acting as a symbolic or ceremonial executive. The Crown consists of Queen Elizabeth II (legal head of state) and her appointed viceroys, the governor general (acting head of state), and provincial lieutenant-governors, who perform most of the monarch's ceremonial roles.[58] The political executive consists of the prime minister (head of government) and the Cabinet and carries out the day-to-day decisions of government. The Cabinet is made up of ministers usually selected from the House of Commons and headed by the prime minister, who is normally the leader of the party that holds the confidence of the House of Commons.[59]

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is one of the most powerful institutions in government, initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting, besides other Cabinet members, senators, federal court judges, heads of Crown corporations and government agencies, and the governor general. The Crown formally approves parliamentary legislation and the prime minister's appointments.[60] The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of the Opposition, and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check. Michaëlle Jean has served as Governor General since September 27, 2005;[61] Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has been prime minister since February 6, 2006;[62] and Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party, has been Leader of the Opposition since December 10, 2008.[63]


A grey Art Deco-style building
The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, west of Parliament Hill

The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of the country, and consists of written text and unwritten conventions.[64] The Constitution Act, 1867 (known as the British North America Act prior to 1982) affirmed governance based on parliamentary precedent "similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom" and divided powers between the federal and provincial governments; the Statute of Westminster, 1931 granted full autonomy; and the Constitution Act, 1982 added the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees basic rights and freedoms that usually cannot be overridden by any level of government—though a notwithstanding clause allows the federal parliament and provincial legislatures to override certain sections of the Charter for a period of five years—and added a constitutional amending formula.[64]

Canada's judiciary plays an important role in interpreting laws and has the power to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court and final arbiter and has been led by the Right Honourable Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, P.C. (the first female Chief Justice) since 2000.[65] Its nine members are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. All judges at the superior and appellate levels are appointed after consultation with nongovernmental legal bodies. The federal cabinet also appoints justices to superior courts at the provincial and territorial levels. Judicial posts at the lower provincial and territorial levels are filled by their respective governments.[66]

Common law prevails everywhere except in Quebec, where civil law predominates.[67] Criminal law is solely a federal responsibility and is uniform throughout Canada.[67] Law enforcement, including criminal courts, is a provincial responsibility, but in rural areas of all provinces except Ontario and Quebec, policing is contracted to the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[68]

Foreign relations and military

An airborne fighter jet
A Canadian CF-18 Hornet in Bagotville, Quebec. CF-18s have supported NORAD air sovereignty patrols and participated in combat during the Gulf War of 1991 and Kosovo and Bosnia in the late 1990s.

Canada and the United States share the world's longest undefended border, co-operate on military campaigns and exercises, and are each other's largest trading partner.[69] Canada nevertheless has an independent foreign policy, most notably maintaining full relations with Cuba and declining to participate in the Iraq War. Canada also maintains historic ties to the United Kingdom and France and to other former British and French colonies through Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and the Francophonie.[70] Canada is noted for having a strong and positive relationship with the Netherlands (which Canada helped liberate during World War II), and the Dutch government traditionally gives tulips, a symbol of the Netherlands, to Canada each year in remembrance of Canada's contribution to its liberation.[43]

Canada currently employs a professional, volunteer military force of about 67,000 regular and 26,000 reserve personnel.[71] The unified Canadian Forces (CF) comprise the army, navy, and air force. Major CF equipment holdings include 1,400 armoured fighting vehicles, 33 combat vessels, and 861 aircraft.[72]

Strong attachment to the British Empire and Commonwealth in English Canada led to major participation in British military efforts in the Second Boer War, the First World War, and the Second World War. Since then, Canada has been an advocate for multilateralism, making efforts to resolve global issues in collaboration with other nations.[73][74] Canada was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and of NATO in 1949. During the Cold War, Canada was a major contributor to UN forces in the Korean War and founded the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in cooperation with the United States to defend against potential aerial attacks from the Soviet Union.[75]

A harbour with two large grey warships side-by-side parallel to land, and two small black destroyers facing out to sea
Two warships of the Canadian Navy—the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) (centre) and the Iroquois-class destroyer HMCS Algonquin (DDG 283)—at Pearl Harbor upon departing to participate in RIMPAC, the world's largest international maritime exercise

During the Suez Crisis of 1956, future Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson eased tensions by proposing the inception of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, for which he was awarded the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize.[76] As this was the first UN peacekeeping mission, Pearson is often credited as the inventor of the concept. Canada has since served in 50 peacekeeping missions, including every UN peacekeeping effort until 1989,[77] and has since maintained forces in international missions in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere. The number of Canadian military personnel participating in peacekeeping missions has decreased greatly in the past two decades. As of June 30, 2006, 133 Canadians served on United Nations peacekeeping missions worldwide, including 55 Canadian military personnel, compared with 1044 military personnel as of December 31, 1996.[78][79]

Canada joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990 and hosted the OAS General Assembly in Windsor, Ontario, in June 2000 and the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001.[80] Canada seeks to expand its ties to Pacific Rim economies through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).[81]

Two tanks and five soldiers on uneven ground. The soldiers are crouching between the two tanks
Two Canadian LAV III at CFB Gagetown

Since 2001, Canada has had troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. stabilization force and the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force. Canada has committed to withdraw from Kandahar Province by 2011,[82] by which time it will have spent an estimated total of $11.3 billion on the mission.[83]

Canada and the U.S. continue to integrate state and provincial agencies to strengthen security along the Canada-United States border through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.[84] Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has participated in three major relief efforts in recent years; the two-hundred-member team has been deployed in relief operations after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Kashmir earthquake in October 2005.

In February 2007, Canada, Italy, Britain, Norway, and Russia announced their funding commitments to launch a $1.5 billion project to help develop vaccines they said could save millions of lives in poor nations, and called on others to join them.[85] In August 2007, Canadian sovereignty in Arctic waters was challenged after a Russian expedition that planted a Russian flag at the seabed at the North Pole. Canada has considered that area to be sovereign territory since 1925.[86]

Provinces and territories

Canada is a federation composed of ten provinces and three territories. In turn, these may be grouped into regions: Western Canada, Central Canada, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada (the latter made up of the three territories Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut). Eastern Canada refers to Central Canada and Atlantic Canada together. Provinces have more autonomy than territories. The provinces are responsible for most of Canada's social programs (such as health care, education, and welfare) and together collect more revenue than the federal government, an almost unique structure among federations in the world. Using its spending powers, the federal government can initiate national policies in provincial areas, such as the Canada Health Act; the provinces can opt out of these, but rarely do so in practice. Equalization payments are made by the federal government to ensure that reasonably uniform standards of services and taxation are kept between the richer and poorer provinces.[87]

A clickable map of Canada exhibiting its ten provinces and three territories, and their capitals.
Victoria Whitehorse Edmonton Yellowknife Regina Winnipeg Iqaluit Toronto Ottawa Quebec City Fredericton Charlottetown Halifax St. John's Northwest Territories Saskatchewan Newfoundland and Labrador New Brunswick Victoria Yukon British Columbia Whitehorse Alberta Edmonton Regina Yellowknife Nunavut Winnipeg Manitoba Ontario Iqaluit Ottawa Quebec Toronto Quebec City Fredericton Charlottetown Nova Scotia Halifax Prince Edward Island St. John's A clickable map of Canada exhibiting its ten provinces and three territories, and their capitals.
About this image

Geography and climate

 Forests prevail on the rocky Canadian Shield. Ice and tundra are prominent in the Arctic. Glaciers are visible in the Canadian Rockies and Coast Mountains. The interior is mostly flat prairies. The Great Lakes feed the Saint Lawrence River in the southeast lowlands
A satellite composite image of Canada.

Canada occupies a major northern portion of North America, sharing 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—and the largest on the continent.[6] By land area, Canada ranks fourth (land area is total area minus the area of lakes and rivers).[88]

Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60°W and 141°W longitude,[89] 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.[90] 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).[6]

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 in the southeast.[91]

A semi-circular waterfall between two outcrops of forested land
The Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario is one of the world's most voluminous waterfalls.[92] It is renowned for both its beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power.

Canada has an extensive coastline on its north, east, and west, and since the last glacial period it has consisted of eight distinct forest regions, including extensive boreal forest on the Canadian Shield.[93] The vastness and variety of Canada's geography, ecology, vegetation and landforms have given rise to a wide variety of climates throughout the country.[94] Because of its vast size, Canada has more lakes than any other country, containing much of the world's fresh water.[95] There are also fresh-water glaciers in the Canadian Rockies and the Coast Mountains.

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 (−40.0 °F) with severe wind chills.[96] In noncoastal regions, snow can cover the ground almost six months of the year (more in the north). Coastal British Columbia enjoys 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).[97]

Canada is also geologically active, having many earthquakes and potentially active volcanoes, notably Mount Meager, Mount Garibaldi, Mount Cayley, and the Mount Edziza volcanic complex.[98] The volcanic eruption of Tseax Cone in 1775 caused a catastrophic disaster, killing 2,000 Nisga'a people and the destruction of 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.[99]


Canada is one of the world's wealthiest nations, with a high per-capita income, and it is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G8. It is one of the world's top ten trading nations.[100] Canada is a mixed market, ranking lower than the U.S. on the Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedom but higher than most western European nations.[101][102] The largest foreign importers of Canadian goods are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan.[103] In 2008, Canada's imported goods were worth over $442.9 billion, of which $280.8 billion was from the United States, $11.7 billion from Japan, and $11.3 billion from the United Kingdom.[103]

As of October 2009, Canada's national unemployment rate was 8.6%. Provincial unemployment rates vary from a low of 5.8% in Manitoba to a high of 17% in Newfoundland and Labrador.[104] For immigrants in the country five years or less, the unemployment rate reached 13.9% in October 2009.[105] Canada was home to 69 of the 2000 corporations in the 2008 Forbes Global 2000 compilation of the world's largest companies, ranking the nation 5th globally.[106]

As of 2008, Canada’s total government debt burden is the lowest among the G8. The OECD projects that Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio will decline to 19.5% in 2009, which is less than half of the projected average of 51.9% for all G8 countries. According to these projections, Canada's debt burden will have fallen by more than 50 percentage points from its peak in 1995, when it was the second-highest in the G8.[107] In 2008–09, the federal debt increased by $6.1 billion to $463.7 billion.[108] In the past century, the growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy to a more industrial and urban one. Like other First World nations, the Canadian economy is dominated by the service industry, which employs about three quarters of Canadians.[109] Canada is unusual among developed countries in the importance of its primary sector, in which the logging and petroleum industries are two of the most important.

Canada is one of the few developed nations that are net exporters of energy.[110] Atlantic Canada has vast offshore deposits of natural gas, and large oil and gas resources are centred in Alberta. The immense Athabasca Oil Sands give Canada the world's second-largest oil reserves, behind Saudi Arabia.[111] In Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Yukon, hydroelectricity is an inexpensive source of renewable energy when compared to other alternatives.[112]

Canada is one of the world's most important suppliers of agricultural products, with the Canadian Prairies being one of the most important producers of wheat, canola, and other grains.[113] Canada is the largest producer of zinc and uranium, and is an important global source of many other natural resources, such as gold, nickel, aluminium, and lead.[110] Many towns in the northern part of the country, where agriculture is difficult, are sustainable because of nearby mines or sources of timber. Canada also has a sizable manufacturing sector centred in southern Ontario and Quebec, with automobiles and aeronautics representing particularly important industries.[114]

Two men and one women sit at a table and sign a piece of paper, while three men in suits stand behind them, in front of a set of limp flags
Representatives of the Canadian, Mexican, and United States governments sign the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1992.

Economic integration with the United States has increased significantly since World War II. This has drawn the attention of Canadian nationalists, who are concerned about cultural and economic autonomy in an age of globalization, as American goods and media products have become ubiquitous.[115] The Automotive Products Trade Agreement of 1965 opened the borders to trade in the auto manufacturing industry. In the 1970s, concerns over energy self-sufficiency and foreign ownership in the manufacturing sectors prompted Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government to enact the National Energy Program (NEP) and the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA).[116]

In the 1980s, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives abolished the NEP and changed the name of FIRA to "Investment Canada" in order to encourage foreign investment.[117] The Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of 1988 eliminated tariffs between the two countries, while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) expanded the free-trade zone to include Mexico in the 1990s.[113] In the mid-1990s, the Liberal government under Jean Chrétien began to post annual budgetary surpluses and steadily paid down the national debt.[118] The 2008 global financial crisis caused a recession, which could boost the country's unemployment rate to 10%.[119]


Largest metropolitan areas in Canada by population (2006 Census)
Name Province Pop. Name Province Pop.
Toronto Ontario 5,113,149 Kitchener–Waterloo Ontario 451,235
Montreal Quebec 3,635,571 St. CatharinesNiagara Ontario 390,317
Vancouver British Columbia 2,116,581 Halifax Nova Scotia 372,858
OttawaGatineau Ontario–Quebec 1,130,761 Oshawa Ontario 330,594
Calgary Alberta 1,079,310 Victoria British Columbia 330,088
Edmonton Alberta 1,034,945 Windsor Ontario 323,342
Quebec City Quebec 715,515 Saskatoon Saskatchewan 233,923
Winnipeg Manitoba 694,668 Regina Saskatchewan 194,971
Hamilton Ontario 692,911 Sherbrooke Quebec 186,952
London Ontario 457,720 St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador 181,113

Canada's 2006 census counted a total population of 31,612,897, an increase of 5.4% since 2001.[120] 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.[121] A similar proportion live in urban areas concentrated in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor (notably the Greater Golden Horseshoe, including Toronto and area, Montreal, and Ottawa), the BC Lower Mainland (consisting of the region surrounding Vancouver), and the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor in Alberta.[122]

According to the 2006 census, the largest reported ethnic origin is English (21%), followed by French (15.8%), Scottish (15.2%), Irish (13.9%), German (10.2%), Italian (5%), Chinese (3.9%), Ukrainian (3.6%), and First Nations (3.5%). Approximately one third of respondents identified their ethnicity as "Canadian".[123]

Canada's aboriginal population is growing at almost twice the national rate, and 3.8% of Canada's population claimed aboriginal identity in 2006. Another 16.2% of the population belonged to non-aboriginal visible minorities.[124] The largest visible minority groups in Canada are South Asian (4%), Chinese (3.9%) and Black (2.5%).[125] In 1961, less than 2% of Canada's population (about 300,000 people) could be classified as visible minority and less than 1% as aboriginal.[126][127] In 2006, 51.0% of Vancouver's population and 46.9% of Toronto's population were members of visible minority groups.[128][129] Between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population rose by 27.2%.[125] According to a 2005 forecast by Statistics Canada, the proportion of visible minorities in Canada could reach as much as 23% by 2017. As of 2007, almost one in five Canadians (19.8%) were foreign born.[130] Nearly 60% of new immigrants hail from Asia (including the Middle East).[130]

Religion in Canada (2001 Census)[131]
Religion Percent
No religion

Canada has the highest per-capita immigration rate in the world, driven by economic policy and family reunification, and is aiming for between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2010.[132] Canada also accepts large numbers of refugees. New immigrants settle mostly in major urban areas like Toronto and Vancouver.[133]

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.[134] The census results also indicate that despite an increase in immigration since 2001 (which gave Canada a higher rate of population growth than in the previous intercensal period), the aging of Canada's population did not slow during the period.

Support for religious pluralism is an important part of Canada's political culture. According to the 2001 census, 77.1% of Canadians identify as being Christians; of this, Catholics make up the largest group (43.6% of Canadians).[131] 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%).[131] About 16.5% of Canadians declare no religious affiliation, and the remaining 6.3% are affiliated with non-Christian religions, the largest of which is Islam (2.0%), followed by Judaism (1.1%).[131]

Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for education. Each system is similar, while reflecting regional history, culture and geography.[135] The mandatory school age ranges between 5–7 to 16–18 years,[135] contributing to an adult literacy rate of 99%.[6] Post-secondary education is also administered by provincial and territorial governments, which provide most of the funding; the federal government administers additional research grants, student loans, and scholarships. In 2002, 43% 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%.[136]


A colorful post of wood sculpted into animal faces stands in front of a wide lodge with a painted face on it
A Kwakwaka'wakw totem pole and traditional "big house" in Victoria, British Columbia

Canadian culture has historically been influenced by British, French, and Aboriginal cultures and traditions. It has also been heavily influenced by American culture because of its proximity and the high rate of migration between the two countries. The great majority of English-speaking immigrants to Canada between 1755 and 1815 were Americans from the Thirteen Colonies. During and immediately after the War of Independence, 46,000 American Loyalists came to Canada.[137] Between 1785 and 1812, the Late Loyalists emigrated to Canada in response to promises of land.[138]

American media and entertainment are popular, if not dominant, in English Canada; conversely, many Canadian cultural products and entertainers are successful in the United States and worldwide.[139] Many cultural products are marketed toward a unified "North American" or global market. The creation and preservation of distinctly Canadian culture are supported by federal government programs, laws, and institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board of Canada, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.[140]

Canada is a geographically vast and ethnically diverse country. Canadian culture has also been greatly influenced by immigration from all over the world. Many Canadians value multiculturalism and see Canadian culture as being inherently multicultural.[49] Multicultural heritage is the basis of Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A group of men skate on ice in two groups, each trying to hit a small rubber disc with curved sticks
A hockey game at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec (1901)

Canada's National symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and First Nations sources. The use of the maple leaf as a Canadian symbol dates to the early 18th century. The maple leaf is depicted on Canada's current and previous flags, on the penny, and on the Coat of Arms.[141] Other prominent symbols include the beaver, Canada Goose, Common Loon, the Crown, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,[141] and more recently, the totem pole and Inukshuk.

Canada's official national sports are hockey in the winter and lacrosse in the summer.[142] Hockey is a national pastime and the most popular spectator sport in the country. It is also the sport most played by Canadians, with 1.65 million participants in 2004.[143] Canada's six largest metropolitan areas—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton—have franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL), and there are more Canadian players in the NHL than from all other countries combined. Other popular spectator sports include curling and football; the latter is played professionally in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Golf, baseball, skiing, soccer, volleyball, and basketball are widely played at youth and amateur levels,[143] but professional leagues and franchises are not widespread.

Canada has hosted several high-profile international sporting events, including the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Canada was the host nation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.[144]


A cobblestone square with a statue, surrounded by old-fashioned stone buildings. A group of people are being photographed in front of one of the buildings
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in the historic Basse-Ville (Lower Town) of Quebec City, Quebec. The population is mainly French-speaking, with a small English-speaking minority.

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.[145]

English and French are the mother tongues of 59.7% and 23.2% of the population respectively,[146] and the languages most spoken at home by 68.3% and 22.3% of the population respectively.[147] 98.5% of Canadians speak English or French (67.5% speak English only, 13.3% speak French only, and 17.7% speak both).[148] English and French Official Language Communities, defined by First Official Language Spoken, constitute 73.0% and 23.6% of the population respectively.[148]

Although more than 85% of French-speaking Canadians live in Quebec, there are substantial Francophone populations in Ontario, Alberta, and southern Manitoba.[149] New Brunswick, the only officially bilingual province, has an Acadian population constituting 33% of the population.[150] There are also clusters of Acadians in southwestern Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, and through central and western Prince Edward Island. Ontario has the largest French-speaking population outside Quebec. The Charter of the French Language makes French the official language in Quebec.[151]

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.[152] Several aboriginal languages have official status in the Northwest Territories.[153] Inuktitut is the majority language in Nunavut, and one of three official languages in the territory.[154]

Languages other than the two official languages are significant in Canada, with over six million people listing one as a first language. 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).[146]

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
State of World Liberty Project State of World Liberty Index[155] 3 out of 159
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index[7] 4 out of 182
World Bank Ease of Doing Business 2009[156] 8 out of 181
The Economist The World in 2005 – Worldwide quality-of-life index, 2005[157] 14 out of 111
Yale University/Columbia University Environmental Sustainability Index, 2005[158] 6 out of 146
Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2009[159] 19 out of 175
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2009[160] 8 out of 180
Institute for Economics & Peace Global Peace Index[161] 8 out of 144
Fund for Peace Failed States Index, 2009[162] 166 out of 177[163]
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report[164] 9 out of 133
The Economist Democracy Index[165] 11 out of 167

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Further reading

  • Bumsted, JM (2004). History of the Canadian Peoples. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-541688-0. 
  • Conrad, Margaret; Finkel, Alvin (2003). Canada: A National History. Toronto: Longman. ISBN 0-201-73060-X. 
  • Stewart, Gordon T (1996). History of Canada Before 1867. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 0-87013-398-5. 
Government and law
  • Brooks, Stephen (2000). Canadian Democracy: An Introduction (3rd ed.). Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press Canada. ISBN 0-19-541503-5. 
  • Dahlitz, Julie (2003). Secession and international law: conflict avoidance – regional appraisals. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press. ISBN 90-6704-142-4. 
Foreign relations and military
  • Fox, Annette Baker (1996). Canada in World Affairs. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 0-87013-391-8. 
  • Morton, Desmond; Granatstein, JL (1989). Marching to Armageddon: Canadians and the Great War 1914–1919. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys. ISBN 0-88619-209-9. 
Geography and climate
  • Quentin H. Stanford, ed (2003). Canadian Oxford World Atlas (5th ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press (Canada). ISBN 0-19-541897-2. 
  • Innis, Mary Quayle (1943). An Economic History of Canada. Toronto: Ryerson Press. ASIN B0007JFHBQ. ISBN 0802040292. 
  • Marr, William L; Paterson, Donald G (1980). Canada: An Economic History. Toronto: Gage. ISBN 0-7715-5684-5. 
  • Wallace, Iain (2002). A Geography of the Canadian Economy. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-540773-3. 
Demography and statistics
  • Statistics Canada (2001). Canada Year Book. Ottawa: Queen of Canada. ISBN 0-660-18360-9. 
  • Resnick, Philip (2005). The European Roots Of Canadian Identity. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press. ISBN 1-55111-705-3. 

External links

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Canadian is a city on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle.

  • US 60 connects to Miami and Pampa to the south west.
  • US 83 connects the city to Perryton to the north, and Wheeler and Shamrock to the south.

Get around

A car is a must.

  • Canadian River Historic Wagon Bridge, two miles north on US 60/83. The bridge, built in 1916, has now been converted into a walking bridge for a hike and bike trail with a nearby duck pond and rodeo arena.
  • Gene Cockrell's Concrete Sculptures, 806 323 6307. An eccentric local artist has created a number of quirky sculptures, including a 50-foot-long brontosaurus overlooking Highway 83 about three miles south of town.
  • Palace Theater, [1]. A restored vintage downtown movie theater which is over 80 years old. Runs current movies.
  • River Valley Pioneer Museum, 118 North 2nd Street, [2]. Tues-Fri 10am-12pm and 1-4pm. Sun 2-4pm.
  • Rader Ranch, north of town (take highway 60 northeast about 8 miles, turn left on FM 305 and follow for about 5 miles), 806 354 0928. Observe wildlife such as the Prairie Chickens, wild turkeys, deer, and coyotes on this 20,000 acre ranch.
  • Washita Ranch, south of town, 508 655 4599. Includes a four-mile trail along the river which provides good birdwatching opportunities. Lodging available, as well as horseback riding and barbecue.
  • Antique Treasures, 222 Main St, 806 323 9941.
  • Railhead Bar & Grill, 220 N 2nd St, 806 323 9435.
  • Cattle Exchange, 200 Main St, 806 323 6755.
  • Canadian Restaurant, 402 N 2nd St, 806 323 9176.
  • Railhead Club & Restaurant, 220 N 2nd St, 806 323 9435.
  • Our Fillin'station, 217 S 2nd St, 806 323 6504.
  • Lavilla's Pizza & Grill, 502 N 2nd St, 806 323 5533.
  • Arrington Ranch, 9760 C R 5, 806 323 6924, [3]. Bed and breakfast on a working calf ranch. The house was built in 1919 by a Texas Ranger.
  • Brooks House, 1426 Main St, 806 323 5527.
  • Canadian Courts Motel, 220 N 2nd St, 806 323 8058.
  • Kim's Cottage, 212 Main St, 806 323 5527.
  • Nights In White Satin, 505 Kingman Ave, 806 323 5559.
  • Thicket Guest Ranch, 15287 Lake Marvin Road, 806 323 8118.
  • Black Kettle National Grassland, north on highway 60 about 10 miles. Part of Cibola National Forest. While most of this park is in Oklahoma, this separate 576-acre park includes Lake Marvin, providing a beautiful relaxation and wildlife viewing spot for any Panhandle traveller who misses seeing lots of trees. Campsites and cottages are available.
Routes through Canadian
LiberalPerryton  N noframe S  WheelerShamrock
AmarilloPampa  W noframe S  EnidPonca City
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also canadian




  • IPA: /kəˈneɪdɪən/, SAMPA: /k@"neIdI@n/
  • Hyphenation: Can‧ad‧ian




Canadian (plural Canadians)

  1. Person from Canada.
  2. (sports, informal) Canadian national championship.


Related terms



Canadian (comparative more Canadian, superlative most Canadian)


more Canadian

most Canadian

  1. Of or pertaining to Canada.



Derived terms


  • “Canadian” in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004.

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