Detailed map of Canada with cities. Canada on the world map
The main geographical facts about Canada - population, country area, capital, official language, religions, industry and culture. Map of Canada with cities. Where Canada is on the world map.
Canada Fact File
Official name Canada
Form of government Constitutional monarchy with two legislative bodies (Senate and House of Commons)
Area 9,976,140 sq km (3,851,788 sq miles)
Time zone GMT - 3.5/8 hours
GNP per capita US$ 29,400
Projected population 2015 34,419,000
Population density 3.2 per sq km (8.3 per sq mile)
Life expectancy 79.7
Infant mortality (per 1,000) 7.5
Official languages English, French
Other languages Chinese, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Arabic, indigenous languages
Literacy rate 99 %
Religions Roman Catholic 45%, United Church 12%, Anglican 8%, other 35%
Ethnic groups British 40%, French 27%, other European 20 %, indigenous 1.5 %, other 11.5 %
Currency Canadian dollar
Economy Services 78%, industry 19%, agriculture 3%
Climate Ranges from cool temperate in south to polar in north; long, cold winters; wetter and more temperate on coasts
Highest point Mt Logan 5,950 m (19,521 ft)
Map reference Pages 410-11, 412-13, 414-15, 416-17
Canada is the second-largest country in the world, with ninety percent of its population living close to the US border. Its citizens enjoy a standard of living second only to that of the US itself, but the huge scale of Canada's land area, the small, spread out population, and the division between the British and the French have made national unity more difficult to achieve.
Canada was initially populated by Inuit (Eskimo) and First Nation peoples (as indigenous Canadians are called). European settlement began in 1541 after Jacques Carder's 1534 discovery of the St Lawrence River. Soon, French explorers pushed inland in search of furs and trade. The French were still in a majority when British victory in a war with France, in 1763, gave Britain control of French settlements in Quebec. Follow-
Ancestors of today's Inuit spread east and north as far as Arctic Circle ing US independence in 1783, however, many British settlers came north, and this marked the start of the long-resented domination of a French minority by a larger English-speaking population. There have been various Francophone initiatives for the secession of Quebec in recent years. A 1995 vote in the province failed by 50.6 to 49.4 percent to settle the matter.
Physical features and land use Canada
People and culture Canada
There is much variety among Canada's geographic regions. In the east lie the Atlantic Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland, as well as Quebec. The geological foundation of the Atlantic Provinces is ancient worn-down mountains, along with sectors of the still older Canadian Shield. Although farming settlements are common, agriculture in this region has always been marginal (with the exception of such places as the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) and is in decline. Pulp and paper is produced from Quebec's coniferous forests and the state is also a major producer of hydropower.
West and south lie the most temperate inland parts of Canada, the St Lawrence-Great Lakes lowlands, including the Ontario Peninsula. This fertile agricultural region reaches west from southern Quebec along Lake Ontario and north from Lake Erie. Rural settlement is more dense here than elsewhere and, given the large urban concentrations of Toronto and Montreal, these lowlands are the most heavily populated part of Canada.
The Canadian Shield, or Laurentian Plateau, is an extensive, ancient region floored with some of the world's oldest known rocks. Centered on Hudson Bay, it covers nearly fifty percent of Canadian territory. Except for some low mountains in eastern Quebec and Labrador, this is a rolling landscape typified by outcrops of rock and a great amount of surface water in summer. There are hundreds of thousands of water bodies, ranging in size from gigantic to tiny, connected by thousands of rivers and streams. The shield's southern half is covered by boreal forest, whereas the northern half (including the islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago) is beyond the tree line and has a cover of rock, ice, and ground-hugging tundra. The Arctic Archipelago islands range from high mountains in the east to low plains in the west.
West of the Canadian Shield lie the central plains. The southern portion of the "Prairie Provinces"—Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta— has a natural vegetation of prairie grasses. The northern part is forested. In the prairies the mechanization of wheat farming long ago reduced the need for rural labor, and population densities are low.
The Canadian Cordillera, reaching from the northern Yukon to southern British Columbia and southwest Alberta, dominates western Canada, and contains a number of national parks including Yoho, Banff, Jasper, and Kootenay. On the Pacific side the Coast Mountains run south through British Columbia, the coastline deeply embayed by fjords. Off the coast lies Vancouver Island, the peak of another mountain range, now cut off by the sea.
With its major British and French components, its other Europeans who are largely from eastern
and southern Europe, its Asians, and its indigenous First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, Canada is home to many peoples. Most now live in urban settings but this is quite a new development. At confederation in 1867, when Britain granted home rule, eighty percent of the population was rural, and only Montreal had more than 100,000 people. It was not until after the Second World War that rural and urban populations became about equal in size. The war years stimulated the economy, industrialization was rapid, people moved into the cities to work in factories, and Canada emerged from the conflict with a powerful industrial base. It was at this time that British influence began to decline and the USA became of increasing economic and cultural importance in Canadian life.
In the past twenty years Canada's ethnic mix has changed significantly, resulting from a move toward a less restrictive immigration policy that welcomes people with money and skills. Under this policy many Asians have come to settle. The government defines Canada as a "community of communities" within which each ethnic group is encouraged to maintain its own culture. While generally welcomed, these liberalization measures have also produced problems. Since the Supreme Court recognized "aboriginal title", First Nations land claims have been or are being negotiated with the governments concerned where prior treaties did not exist, and in some cases demands are being made for revision of existing treaties. Canada's most intractable political problem, however, remains the unsatisfied demand of many Quebecois for autonomy.
Economy and resources Canada
Canada's resource base includes nickel (Sudbury, Ontario usually provides some twenty percent of the western world's supply), and Canada is also a world leader in the output of zinc, potash, uranium, sulphur, asbestos, aluminum and copper.
Bow lake in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies (left). Ottawa, on the banks of the Ottawa River (top left). Niagara Falls, from the Canadian side (top right).
Alberta produces more than 75 percent of the nation's oil and is an important source of natural gas and coal. Hydroelectric power has led to the expansion of pulp and paper industries. Canada is one of the world's leading exporters of wood products.
Agriculture is an important activity, but it only employs around three percent of the labor force. Grain, dairying, fruit, and ranching all flourish. In addition to pigs and sheep, Canadian ranches support about 13 million head of cattle. Fruitgrowing is found in British Columbia's irrigated southern plateau and the Fraser River delta. In addition to wheat other export crops include feed grains, oilseeds, apples, potatoes, and maple syrup.
The country's high taxes, regulatory structures, and low productivity have, however, led to ongoing problems. Starting the 1990s in recession, Canada's real rates of growth have averaged only one percent through much of the decade. A traditional commitment to high public service and welfare spending is proving hard to maintain. The current account deficit and national debt have led to the slashing of federal transfers to the provinces in the areas of health, education, and welfare. The continuing debate over Quebec's future, and the possibility of a split in the confederation, also dampens investor confidence.
Alberta • Edmonton
British Columbia • Victoria
Manitoba • Winnipeg
New Brunswick • Fredericton
Newfoundland • St. John's
Nova Scotia • Halifax
Ontario • Toronto
Prince Edward Island • Charlottetown
Quebec • Quebec
Saskatchewan • Regina
Northwest Territories Nunavut • Iqaluit Yukon Territory • Whitehorse Yellowknife