Profile Of Canada
At a total of 9,984,670 square kilometres, Canada is the second-largest country in the world (after Russia). Canada comprises 7% of the world’s landmass, and contains 9% of its fresh water supply. Three oceans border the country’s shores: the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic. Six time zones separate its east and west coasts.
Canada is a confederation, with a parliamentary democracy.
Ottawa, with a population of 1,130,761, in the province of Ontario, is the nation’s capital.
Provinces and Territories
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, each with its own capital city (in brackets): British Columbia (Victoria), Alberta (Edmonton), Saskatchewan (Regina), Manitoba (Winnipeg), Ontario (Toronto), Quebec (Quebec City), Newfoundland (St. John’s), Nova Scotia (Halifax), New Brunswick (Fredericton), Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown), Northwest Territories (Yellowknife), Yukon Territory (Whitehorse) and Nunavut (Iqaluit).
Diversity is the keynote of Canada’s geography. It includes fertile plains, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Wilderness forests give way to arctic tundra in the far north.
There are many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the permanently frozen icecaps north of the 70th parallel to the luxuriant vegetation of British Columbia’s West Coast. Daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35º C and higher, while lows of -25º C are not uncommon in winter.
Main Natural Resources
The principal natural resources are natural gas, oil, gold, coal, copper, iron ore, nickel, potash, uranium and zinc, along with wood and water.
These include automobile manufacturing, pulp and paper, iron and steelwork, machinery and equipment manufacturing, mining, extraction of fossil fuels, forestry and agriculture.
Canadian exports valued at $277 billion Canadian in 1999. These included transportation equipment, capital equipment, pulp and paper, fuels, wood, minerals and aluminum.
Canada’s imports totalled $259.3 billion Canadian in 1999. This includes transportation equipment, capital equipment, electronics and plastics.
The units of Canadian currency are the cent (¢) and the dollar ($1=100¢).
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Trade with other countries is crucial to Canada’s prosperity. One quarter of our output depends on international trade. The NAFTA with the United States and Mexico came into force on January 1, 1994. The NAFTA improves access to these countries for Canadian goods and services, and guarantees our position as a prime location for investors seeking to serve the entire North American continent. Most tariffs between Canada and the United States have been phased out. The NAFTA also provides greater market access for service industries and permits more mobility for professional and business travellers among NAFTA countries.
Canada’s population was estimated at 33,661,000 in April 2009, with a population density of about 1 person per square mile. The vast majority of Canadians live in a tiny area, with about two thirds of the population in just two provinces – Ontario and Quebec. Of these the bulk are concentrated in a corridor along the US border. 31% of Canada’s population lives in the 3 largest cities of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Population growth rate was estimated at 0.817% 2009. This growth in population has been attributed to both immigration (6.13 migrants/1,000 population) and natural increase (10.28 births/1,000 population minus 7.61 deaths/1,000 population).
Canadian’s life expectancy at birth is 78 years for males and 83 years for females (2009 est.). This ranks among the world’s longest.
Only 5 countries have a higher standard of living than does Canada. The United Nations has ranked Canada as the highest on its “Human Development Index”. More than 73% of Canadians own their own homes. Even more own automobiles and appliances. Telephone service is virtually universal in Canada. With one of the best telecommunications systems in the world, Canadians are increasingly hooking into the information highway.
Health Care and Social Security
Canada’s health service is among the best in the world. All Canadians have free access to health care, with the exception of dental services. Canada also has an extensive social security network including old age pension, family allowance, unemployment insurance and welfare.
Canadians, who claim something other than British or French as their origin, represent 42% of the population. 4% of Canadians report Aboriginal ancestry. There are 3 Aboriginal groups recognized by the Constitution Act, 1982: North American Indian, Inuit and Métis. Among the largest ethnic groups are the German, Italian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Polish, Chinese, South Asian, Jewish, West Indian, Portuguese and Scandinavian.
The majority of Canadians are Christian. According to the 2001 census, 13 million are Catholics and 8.7 million are Protestants. Other religions include Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. About 16.2% of Canadians stated that they had no religious affiliation whatsoever.