Canada

November 25, 2012 9:10 pm

Canada is the second largest country in the world. Only Russia has more land. Canada extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It also reaches from the Arctic Ocean to the northern border of the United States.
Facts About Canada
Capital
Ottawa
Official languages
English, French
Population
33,700,000 people
Rank among countries in population
36th
Major cities
Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver
Area
3,860,000 square miles
9,980,000 square kilometers
Rank among countries in area
2nd
Highest point
Mt. Logan
19,551 feet/5,959 meters
Currency
Canadian dollar
CANADA’S PEOPLE
For a country its size, Canada’s population is quite small. About the same number of people live in Canada as in the U.S. state of California.
Most Canadians live near the country’s southern border. Two-thirds live within 200 miles (300 kilometers) of the United States. Canada’s northern areas are very lightly populated. Most who live there are Inuit or other indigenous (Native American) people.
Canada has two official languages: French and English. For a long time, France and Britain struggled for control of Canada. French explorers and traders arrived first, but Britain won control in a war that ended in the 1760s. Most of the French settlers stayed on and kept their language and traditions.
Today, most of Canada’s French speakers live in the province of Québec. They prize their French heritage. Many of them would like to separate from Canada and make Québec an independent country. However, Québec voters have narrowly voted against independence in two elections.
A FAIRLY NEW COUNTRY
Canada is a relatively new country. It was created from three British colonies in 1867. After they united to form Canada, the colonies became four provinces. Six more provinces later joined Canada. The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is the newest one. It joined Canada in 1949.
In 1931, Canada gained independence from Britain. But Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is also queen of Canada and the official head of the nation. Canada belongs to the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of countries that once formed part of the British Empire.
LAND OF MANY REGIONS
Today, Canada is made up of ten provinces and three northern territories. As a big country, it has many different regions.
British Columbia is the westernmost Canadian province and the only province on the Pacific Ocean. Mountains cover most of it. Vancouver, a major port city, is here.
The Maritime Provinces lie along the Atlantic coast. They consist of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. These provinces, along with Newfoundland and Labrador, are sometimes called the Atlantic Provinces. Fishing is a major industry in these provinces. The rugged, rocky coastlines and picturesque fishing villages draw tourists in summer.
In between the coasts are the Prairie Provinces and the eastern provinces of Ontario and Québec. Rolling wheat fields cover much of the Prairie Provinces—Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. They produce more than one-fifth of the world’s wheat.
Two-thirds of Canada’s people live in Ontario and Québec. These two provinces are Canada’s business and industrial heartland. Toronto, Canada’s largest city, is in Ontario. So is Canada’s capital, Ottawa. Montréal, the second largest city, is in Québec.
Canada’s three territories are in the northern part of the country, where the land is frozen much of the year. The Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon Territory have long, extremely cold winters.
TRANS-CANADA HIGHWAY
The Trans-Canada Highway extends across the country. The eastern starting point is St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. The western end is Victoria, British Columbia.
Along the way, the highway crosses five time zones and all ten Canadian provinces. With a length of 4,860 miles (7,821 kilometers), it’s the longest national highway in the world. The highway was completed in 1962.
MAJOR BODIES OF WATER
In addition to land, Canada has plenty of water. It contains more lakes and inland waterways than any other country. Hudson Bay, the largest bay in the world, is connected to both the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.
Four of North America’s five Great Lakes lie partly in Canada. All but Lake Michigan are on the border with the United States. Ontario touches all four lakes. The St. Lawrence River flows through southern Ontario and Québec. The river links the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
With so many water sources, it’s no surprise that Canada leads the world in the production of hydroelectric power—electricity produced from waterpower.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE GARDEN
Canada and the United States share a long border and have friendly relations. The International Peace Garden honors the friendship between the countries. This garden crosses the border into Manitoba in Canada and North Dakota in the United States. It lies at the geographic center of the North American continent.

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