|Currency||Canadian Dollar ($)|
|Languages||English , French , English , French|
Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Indigenous peoples have continuously inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years. Beginning in the 16th century, British and French expeditions explored and later settled along the Atlantic coast. As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. 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 Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition. The country's head of government is the prime minister—who holds office by virtue of their ability to command the confidence of the elected House of Commons—and is appointed by the governor general, representing the monarch, who serves as head of state. The country is a Commonwealth realm and is officially bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
A highly developed country, Canada has the 26th highest nominal per-capita income globally and the sixteenth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index. Its advanced economy is the ninth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth of Nations, the Arctic Council, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the Organization of American States.
Indigenous peoples in present-day Canada include the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, the last being of mixed descent who originated in the mid-17th century when First Nations people married European settlers and subsequently developed their own identity.
The first inhabitants of North America are generally hypothesized to have migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 14,000 years ago. The Paleo-Indian archeological sites at Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of the oldest sites of human habitation in Canada. The characteristics of Indigenous societies included permanent settlements, agriculture, complex societal hierarchies, and trading networks. Some of these cultures had collapsed by the time European explorers arrived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and have only been discovered through archeological investigations.
The Indigenous population at the time of the first European settlements is estimated to have been between 200,000 and two million, with a figure of 500,000 accepted by Canada's Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. As a consequence of European colonization, the Indigenous population declined by forty to eighty percent, and several First Nations, such as the Beothuk, disappeared. The decline is attributed to several causes, including the transfer of European diseases, such as influenza, measles, and smallpox to which they had no natural immunity, conflicts over the fur trade, conflicts with the colonial authorities and settlers, and the loss of Indigenous lands to settlers and the subsequent collapse of several nations' self-sufficiency.
Although not without conflict, European Canadians' early interactions with First Nations and Inuit populations were relatively peaceful. First Nations and Métis peoples played a critical part in the development of European colonies in Canada, particularly for their role in assisting European coureur des bois and voyageurs in their explorations of the continent during the North American fur trade. The Crown and Indigenous peoples began interactions during the European colonization period, though the Inuit, in general, had more limited interaction with European settlers. However, from the late 18th century, European Canadians encouraged Indigenous peoples to assimilate into their own culture. These attempts reached a climax in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with forced integration and relocations. A period of redress is underway, which started with the appointment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by the Government of Canada in 2008.
By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area alone, however, Canada ranks fourth, due to having the world's largest proportion of fresh water lakes. Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east, along the Arctic Ocean to the north, and to the Pacific Ocean in the west, the country encompasses 9,984,670 km2 (3,855,100 sq mi) of territory. Canada also has vast maritime terrain, with the world's longest coastline of 243,042 kilometres (151,019 mi). In addition to sharing the world's largest land border with the United States—spanning 8,891 km (5,525 mi)—Canada shares a maritime boundary with Greenland to the northeast and with the France's overseas collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon to the southeast. Canada is also home to the world's northernmost settlement, Canadian Forces Station Alert, on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island—latitude 82.5°N—which lies 817 kilometres (508 mi) from the North Pole.
The physical geography of Canada is widely varied. Boreal forests prevail throughout the country, ice is prominent in northern Arctic regions and through the Rocky Mountains, and the relatively flat Canadian Prairies in the southwest facilitate productive agriculture. The Great Lakes feed the St. Lawrence River (in the southeast) where the lowlands host much of Canada's economic output. Canada has over 2,000,000 lakes—563 of which are greater than 100 km2 (39 sq mi)—containing much of the world's fresh water. There are also fresh-water glaciers in the Canadian Rockies, the Coast Mountains and the Arctic Cordillera. Canada is geologically active, having many earthquakes and potentially active volcanoes, notably Mount Meager massif, Mount Garibaldi, Mount Cayley massif, and the Mount Edziza volcanic complex.
Government and politics
Canada is described as a "full democracy", with a tradition of liberalism, and an egalitarian, moderate political ideology. An emphasis on social justice has been a distinguishing element of Canada's political culture. Peace, order, and good government, alongside an Implied Bill of Rights are founding principles of the Canadian government.
At the federal level, Canada has been dominated by two relatively centrist parties practising "brokerage politics", the centre-left leaning Liberal Party of Canada and the centre-right leaning Conservative Party of Canada (or its predecessors). The historically predominant Liberal Party position themselves at the centre of the Canadian political spectrum, with the Conservative Party positioned on the right and the New Democratic Party occupying the left. Far-right and far-left politics have never been a prominent force in Canadian society. Five parties had representatives elected to the Parliament in the 2021 election—the Liberal Party, who currently form a minority government; the Conservative Party, who are the Official Opposition; the New Democratic Party; the Bloc Québécois; and the Green Party of Canada.
Canada has a parliamentary system within the context of a constitutional monarchy—the monarchy of Canada being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The reigning monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who is also monarch of 14 other Commonwealth countries and each of Canada's 10 provinces. The person who is the Canadian monarch is the same as the British monarch, although the two institutions are separate. The monarch appoints a representative, the governor general, with the advice of the prime minister, to carry out most of her federal royal duties in Canada.
While the monarchy is the source of authority in Canada, in practice its position is mainly symbolic. The use of the executive powers is directed by the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the elected House of Commons and chosen and headed by the prime minister (at present Justin Trudeau), the head of government. The governor general or monarch may, though, in certain crisis situations exercise their power without ministerial advice. To ensure the stability of government, the governor general will usually appoint as prime minister the individual who is the current leader of the political party that can obtain the confidence of a plurality in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is thus one of the most powerful institutions in government, initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting for appointment by the Crown, besides the aforementioned, the governor general, lieutenant governors, senators, federal court judges, and heads of Crown corporations and government agencies. The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the leader of the Official Opposition and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check.
Each of the 338 members 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 governor general, either on the advice of the prime minister or if the government loses a confidence vote in the House. The Constitution Act, 1982 requires that no more than five years pass between elections, although the Canada Elections Act limits this to four years with a fixed election date in October. The 105 members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, serve until age 75.
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. Canada's three territories also have legislatures, but these are not sovereign and have fewer constitutional responsibilities than the provinces. The territorial legislatures also differ structurally from their provincial counterparts.
The Bank of Canada is the central bank of the country. In addition, the minister of finance and minister of innovation, science and industry utilize the Statistics Canada agency for financial planning and economic policy development. The Bank of Canada is the sole authority authorized to issue currency in the form of Canadian bank notes. The bank does not issue Canadian coins; they are issued by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Canada is the world's tenth-largest economy as of 2018, with a nominal GDP of approximately US$1.73 trillion. It is one of the least corrupt countries in the world, and is one of the world's top ten trading nations, with a highly globalized economy. Canada has a mixed economy ranking above the U.S. and most western European nations on The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom, and experiencing a relatively low level of income disparity. The country's average household disposable income per capita is "well above" the OECD average. The Toronto Stock Exchange is the ninth-largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization, listing over 1,500 companies with a combined market capitalization of over US$2 trillion.
In 2018, Canadian trade in goods and services reached CA$1.5 trillion. Canada's exports totalled over CA$585 billion, while its imported goods were worth over CA$607 billion, of which approximately CA$391 billion originated from the United States, CA$216 billion from non-U.S. sources. In 2018, Canada had a trade deficit in goods of CA$22 billion and a trade deficit in services of CA$25 billion.
Since the early 20th century, the growth of Canada's manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy to an urbanized, industrial one. Like many other developed countries, the Canadian economy is dominated by the service industry, which employs about three-quarters of the country's workforce. However, Canada is unusual among developed countries in the importance of its primary sector, in which the forestry and petroleum industries are two of the most prominent components.
Canada's economic integration with the United States has increased significantly since World War II. The Automotive Products Trade Agreement of 1965 opened Canada's borders to trade in the automobile 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). In the 1980s, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservatives abolished the NEP and changed the name of FIRA to Investment Canada, to encourage foreign investment. 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 1994 (later replaced by the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement). Canada has a strong cooperative banking sector, with the world's highest per-capita membership in credit unions.
Canada is one of the few developed nations that are net exporters of energy. Atlantic Canada possesses vast offshore deposits of natural gas, and Alberta also hosts large oil and gas resources. The vastness of the Athabasca oil sands and other assets results in Canada having a 13 percent share of global oil reserves, comprising the world's third-largest share after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. Canada is additionally one of the world's largest suppliers of agricultural products; the Canadian Prairies are one of the most important global producers of wheat, canola, and other grains. The federal Department of Natural Resources provides statistics regarding its major exports; the country is a leading exporter of zinc, uranium, gold, nickel, platinoids, aluminum, steel, iron ore, coking coal, lead, copper, molybdenum, cobalt, and cadmium. Many towns in northern Canada, where agriculture is difficult, are sustainable because of nearby mines or sources of timber. Canada also has sizeable manufacturing sector centered in southern Ontario and Quebec, with automobiles and aeronautics representing particularly important industries.
The 2016 Canadian census enumerated a total population of 35,151,728, an increase of around 5.0 percent over the 2011 figure. Between 2011 and May 2016, Canada's population grew by 1.7 million people, with immigrants accounting for two-thirds of the increase. Between 1990 and 2008, the population increased by 5.6 million, equivalent to 20.4 percent overall growth. The main drivers of population growth are immigration and, to a lesser extent, natural growth.
Canada has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world, driven mainly by economic policy and also family reunification. The Canadian public, as well as the major political parties, support the current level of immigration. In 2019, a total of 341,180 immigrants were admitted to Canada, mainly from Asia. India, Philippines and China are the top three countries of origin for immigrants moving to Canada. New immigrants settle mostly in major urban areas in the country, such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Canada also accepts large numbers of refugees, accounting for over 10 percent of annual global refugee resettlements; it resettled more than 28,000 in 2018.
Canada's population density, at 3.7 inhabitants per square kilometer (9.6/sq mi), is among the lowest in the world. Canada spans latitudinally from the 83rd parallel north to the 41st parallel north, and approximately 95 percent of the population is found south of the 55th parallel north. About four-fifths of the population lives within 150 kilometres (93 mi) of the border with the contiguous United States. The most densely populated part of the country, accounting for nearly 50 percent, is the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor in Southern Quebec and Southern Ontario along the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. An additional 30 percent live along the British Columbia Lower Mainland and the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor in Alberta.
The majority of Canadians (67.7 percent) live in family households, 28.2 percent report living alone, and those living with unrelated persons reported at 4.1 percent. 6.3 percent of households are multigenerational with 34.7 percent of young adults aged 20 to 34 living with their parents.69.0 percent of households own their dwellings with 58.6 percent of those homes having an ongoing mortgage.
Canada's culture draws influences from its broad range of constituent nationalities, and policies that promote a "just society" are constitutionally protected. Canada has placed emphasis on equality and inclusiveness for all its people. Multiculturalism is often cited as one of Canada's significant accomplishments, and a key distinguishing element of Canadian identity. In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and there is a French Canadian culture that is distinct from English Canadian culture. However, as a whole, Canada is, in theory, a cultural mosaic—a collection of regional ethnic subcultures.
Canada's approach to governance emphasizing multiculturalism, which is based on selective immigration, social integration, and suppression of far-right politics, has wide public support. Government policies such as publicly funded health care, higher taxation to redistribute wealth, the outlawing of capital punishment, strong efforts to eliminate poverty, strict gun control—alongside legislation with a social liberal attitude toward women's rights (like pregnancy termination), LGBTQ rights, assisted euthanasia and cannabis use—are indicators of Canada's political and cultural values. Canadians also identify with the country's foreign aid policies, peacekeeping roles, the National park system and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Historically, Canada has been influenced by British, French, and Indigenous cultures and traditions. Through their language, art and music, Indigenous peoples continue to influence the Canadian identity. During the 20th century, Canadians with African, Caribbean and Asian nationalities have added to the Canadian identity and its culture. Canadian humour is an integral part of the Canadian identity and is reflected in its folklore, literature, music, art, and media. The primary characteristics of Canadian humour are irony, parody, and satire. Many Canadian comedians have achieved international success such as in the American television and film industries and are amongst the most recognized in the world.
Canada has a well-developed media sector, but its cultural output—particularly in English films, television shows, and magazines—is often overshadowed by imports from the United States. As a result, the preservation of a distinctly Canadian culture is supported by federal government programs, laws, and institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Niagara Falls, NY, USA
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Gros Morne National Park