Canada is a land of many cultures and many people. Aboriginal people have occupied the territory now called Canada for several thousands of years. Everybody else, either by birth or by descent, has been an immigrant - we have all come from some other country. It has been said that Canada is a "Nation Of Immigrants."
As a country, Canada came into being on July 1, 1867. This event is known as "Confederation." Before 1867, the French arrived first, then the British. Each brought their own language, system of government, laws and culture. In 1763, after a long war between the British and the French, all of Canada came under British rule and was known as "British North America."
During the mid- to late 19th and early 20th century, waves of immigrants arrived from Europe, attracted by the opportunity of a new and better life in Canada. After both world wars, thousands of Europeans came to Canada as immigrants and refugees and helped build Canada's post-war economy.
Canada still needs the skills, talents and enthusiasm of newcomers to build the country, together with those who have come before them. All of this has been reflected in Canada's immigration and refugee policies. Today, Canada is home to immigrants from more than 240 countries. Most newcomers decide to become citizens of Canada, after they are settled and have met the requirements of Canadian citizenship.
Canada consists of 10 provinces and three territories in five main regions: the Atlantic region, the Central Canada, the Prairies, the West Coast and the North. The culture and population are different in each region.
The Atlantic region consists of the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Activities such as fishing, farming, forestry, tourism and mining are important to the Atlantic economy.
Central Canada consists of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. This is the most populated region of the country. Together, Ontario and Quebec produce more than three-quarters of all Canadian manufactured goods.
The Prairies include the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Much of the land is flat and fertile, excellent for farming and rich in energy resources.
The north consists of Canada's three territories: Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Together, they make up over one-third of Canada's landmass. Northern resources include oil, natural gas, gold, lead and zinc.
MAP OF CANADA (click on the image to view in bigger size)
Northern North America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean on the east, North Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Arctic Ocean on the north, north of the conterminous USA. Second-largest country in world (after Russia); strategic location between Russia and US via north polar route, approximately 85% of the population is concentrated within 300 km of the USA/Canada border.
Population of Canada is over 31 million. More than 80 percent of all the people in Canada live in towns and cities within 250 kilometers of the United States border. Ottawa is Canada's capital city, with a population of nearly one million. It is located in the province of Ontario. Canada's largest cities are Toronto, Ontario; Montréal, Quebec; and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Canada has a diversified economy. Natural resource industries, such as forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction, farming and fishing, are important sources of jobs and export earnings. Canada is also a world leader in the fields of telecommunications, biotechnology, aerospace technologies and pharmaceuticals. More and more jobs involve work in service industries or in information technology. Along with the United States and Mexico, Canada is a partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement.
As a leader in global development, Canada is one of the richest countries. Over the next few years, Canada will grow more rapidly than any other industrialized nation. The country's stable and resilient economy depends on the country's immense reserves of natural resources and strong manufacturing, commerce and services industries. Along with tax cuts and the elimination of inflation, Canada's growing export activity fuels job creation, which makes for low unemployment. Canada's economy has never been stronger!
Canada is a federation, with a parliamentary system of government. Being a federation means that powers and responsibilities are divided between the federal government and the provincial governments. Canada also has three territorial jurisdictions. Canada has three levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal (cities and towns). The citizens of Canada elect these governments.
Canada is populated by people who have come from every part of the world. Through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, the government encourages Canadians to take pride in their language, religion and heritage and to keep their customs and traditions, as long as they don't break Canadian laws.