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Canadian Dimensions

Land Mass

At 9 976 139 square kilometres, Canada is the world's second-largest country, surpassed only by Russia. Canada comprises 7% of the world's land mass, and 9% of its fresh water supply. Of a total of over ten million square kilometres, over nine million are land and 755 000 fresh water.


Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.

Provinces and Territories

Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, each with its own capital city (in brackets): Alberta (Edmonton); British Columbia (Victoria); Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown); Manitoba (Winnipeg); New Brunswick (Fredericton); Nova Scotia (Halifax); Ontario (Toronto); Quebec (Quebec City); Saskatchewan (Regina); Newfoundland (St. John's); Northwest Territories (Yellowknife), Yukon (Whitehorse), and Nunavut (Iqaluit).


Diversity is the keynote of Canada's geography, which includes fertile plains suitable for agriculture, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Wilderness forests give way to arctic tundra in the Far North.


There are of course 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. On the whole, though, Canada has four very distinct seasons, especially in the regions lying along the U.S. border.

Daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35 °C and higher, while lows of -25°C are not uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall.

National Parks and Historic Sites

The Canadian government has set aside more than 100 national parks and historic sites in honour of the people, places and events that have marked the country's history. Similarly, the provincial governments may form provincial parks.

Canada's 37 national parks are spread throughout the country. Banff, located on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains, is the oldest, having opened in 1885, while Vuntut in the northern Yukon was established as recently as 1993.

Mountain Ranges

As one might expect, Canada's terrain incorporates a number of mountain ranges: the Torngats, Appalachians and Laurentians in the east; the Rocky, Coastal and Mackenzie ranges in the west; and Mount St. Elias and the Pelly Mountains in the north. At 6050 m, Mount Logan in the Yukon is Canada's tallest peak.


The main lakes, in order of the surface area located in Canada, (many large lakes are traversed by the Canada-U.S. border), are Huron, Great Bear, Superior, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Erie and Ontario. Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories is the largest lake situated entirely in Canada; its area is 31 326 square kilometres.


The St. Lawrence River, which is 3058 kilometres long, provides a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The Mackenzie is the longest river, flowing 4241 kilometres through the Northwest Territories. The Yukon and the Columbia, parts of which flow through United States territory, the Nelson, the Saskatchewan, the Peace, and the Churchill are also major watercourses.

Time Zones

Canada has six time zones. The easternmost, in Newfoundland, is three hours and 30 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The other time zones are the Atlantic, the Eastern, the Central, the Rocky Mountain and, farthest west, the Pacific, which is eight hours behind GMT.

Political System

Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a federal state with a democratic parliament. The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa, consists of the House of Commons, whose members are elected, and the Senate, whose members are appointed. On average, members of Parliament are elected every four years.

National Emblem

The maple leaf has been associated with Canada since the 1700s. It has become the country's most important symbol since the national flag was introduced in 1965.

National Anthem

O Canada was proclaimed the national anthem on July 1, 1980, a century after being sung for the first time.


The Canadian dollar is divided into 100 cents.


In 1997, Canada's population was 30 282 125. This represents an increase of 3 million, or 11% since the June 1991 census. This growth in population has been attributed, in equal degree, to both immigration and natural increase (births minus deaths). Between 1991 and 1996, the population of Canada grew at an average annual rate of 1.1%, this being the highest annual average growth rate of all G-7 industrialized nations. Canada represents approximately 0.5% of the global population.

Main Cities

According to the 1996 census, the leading Canadian cities are Toronto (4.51 million - the 5th largest city in North America), Montreal (3.38 million), Vancouver (1.93 million), Ottawa-Hull - the National Capital Region (1.01million), and Edmonton (0.86 million).

Urban and Rural Population

The majority of Canadians, 77%, live in cities and towns, while 23% live in rural areas. According to the 1991 census, 31% of the population (8.61 million people) live in the three largest cities of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Life Expectancy

Canadians' life expectancy at birth is 75.4 years for males and 81.3 years for females. This ranks among the world's longest. By the year 2020, Canada is expected to have the second longest life expectancy at an average of approximately 83 years.

Family Size

At the time of the 1996 national census, the average family size was 3.1 persons, including 1.3 children. Family size has remained unchanged since the 1991 census.

Living Standard

Only five countries have a higher standard of living than does Canada. These are the United States, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany and Japan. Canada ranks higher than the United States in terms of life expectancy, and higher than Japan in terms of education. Consequently, the United Nations has ranked Canada as the highest on its "Human Development Index." More than 65% of Canadians own their own homes. An even higher percentage of Canadians own durable goods such as automobiles, refigerators, washing machines, televisions, telephones and radios. Telephone service is virtually universal in Canada. Sixteen million access lines bring service to 99% of Canadian homes. With one of the best telecommunications systems in the world, Canadians are increasingly hooking into the information highway. In 1995, close to 30% of households had home computers, and over 40 percent of those computers were equipped with modems for accessing the internet.

Health Care and Social Security

All Canadians have free access to health care, with the exception of dental services. Most people over 65 and social aid recipients receive the majority of their prescription drugs free of charge. According to the 1994 National Population Health Survey, 62% of the adult Canadian population rated their health as excellent or very good. Also in 1994, 77% of Canadian adults reported that they had consulted a physician at least once in the previous year. Fifty-five percent reported having visited a dentist, 35% an eye specialist, and 27% had seen other types of health specialists.

Canadian governments spent an estimated $48 billion on health care in 1993-94. This means a total of almost $1700 was spent on health services for each Canadian. This placed Canada as second in the world to the United States in terms of health care expenditures. Canada also has an extensive social security network including old age pension, family allowance, unemployment insurance and welfare.

First Nations

In 1991, 533 000 Canadians were either status or non-status Indians. Four percent of Canadians (over one million Canadians) report Aboriginal ancestry. However, only 626 000 individuals identify themselves exclusively as members of the three Aboriginal groups recognized by the Constitution Act, 1982: North American Indian (460 680), Inuit (36 215) or Métis (135 265). Among these groups, 171 000 people still speak one of the more than 50 remaining Aboriginal languages.

Ontario had the highest concentration of Aboriginal peoples -- 243 550 -- but the Northwest Territories had the highest proportion: more than 60% of its population is of Aboriginal descent.

Only 295 032 Canadian Aboriginals live on reserves or in settlements.


The majority of Canadians are Christian. According to the 1991 census, 12.3 million Canadians identified themselves as Catholics and 9.8 million as Protestants. Other religions include Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. About 12% of Canadians (3.3 million) stated that they had no religious affiliation whatsoever. This represents a 90% increase since 1981.


Census data from 1991 indicates English as the mother tongue of 16.1 million Canadians, and French, the language of 6.5 million. These are Canada's two official languages. However, many Canadians have a mother tongue other than English or French, including Italian, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Polish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Greek or other languages. In 1991, Aboriginal languages were reported as mother tongue by 193 000 Canadians. English-French bilingualism increased dramatically within Canada from 1951 to 1991. The number of bilingual Canadians more than doubled during this period, rising from 1.7 million to 4.4 million, while the proportion rose from 12% to 16%.

Ethnic Origin

Canadians, including Aboriginals, who claim something other than British or French as their origin represent 42 percent of the population, or 11 million people. Among the largest ethnic groups are the German, Italian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Polish, Chinese, South Asian, Jewish, West Indian, Portuguese and Scandinavian.


The Aboriginal cultures are the only truly indigenous cultures of Canada, since all other Canadians were originally immigrants. They began moving to Canada in the 17th century, bringing with them their manner of dress, food preferences and customs. Canada opened its doors to immigration from all over the world in the early 20th century; in 1988, the multicultural character of the country was officially recognized when the Government passed the Multiculturalism Act.


The educational system varies from province to province and includes six to eight years of elementary school, four or five years of secondary school and three or four years at the university undergraduate level. The 1991 census revealed that among Canadians aged 15 and over, 56.9% had attended secondary school, 31.7% had gone to a trade school or other type of post-secondary institution, and 1.9 million - 11.4% of the population - had a university degree.

Adult Literacy

According to 1994 data, literacy is strongly related to formal education in Canada. As we move into the information age, literacy becomes increasingly important. Literacy rates in Canada compare favourably to those in other industrialized nations. In fact, the United Nations estimates that out of one hundred Canadian adults, all but one are able to read, write and understand a simple sentence. This represents as high a rate of adult literacy as anywhere in the world.


The most popular sports in Canada include swimming, ice hockey, cross-country and alpine skiing, baseball, tennis, basketball, and golf. Ice hockey, Canadian football and baseball are the favourite spectator sports.

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.

Gross Domestic Product

The GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced by a country during a year. Canada's GDP was $822 932 000 000 in 1997.

Leading Industries

These include automobile manufacturing, pulp and paper, iron and steel work, machinery and equipment manufacturing, mining, extraction of fossil fuels, forestry and agriculture.


Canadian exports valued $321 256 000 000 in 1997. These included transportation equipment, capital equipment, pulp and paper, fuels, wood, minerals and aluminum.


Canada's imports totalled $300 972 000 000 in 1997. This includes transportation equipment, capital equipment, electronics and plastics.

Published on: 2004-08-05 (12626 reads)

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