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Canada facts and history in brief

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Canada is the northernmost country in North America, bordered by the United States in the south (the world's longest undefended border) and northwest (Alaska).
The country stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, with the Arctic Ocean in the north (Canada's territorial claim extends to the North Pole).
The island of Greenland is just northeast of Canada's northern most islands, while the French possession of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is just off the east coast.
Canada is the world's second-largest country in terms of land area (after Russia), but has a low population density, with approximately 31 million inhabitants (Canadians).
Canada is a modern and technologically advanced country and is energy self-sufficient.
Its economy heavily relies on its abundance of natural resources.

National motto; A Mari Usque Ad Mare (From sea to sea)
Official languages; English and French
Capital; Ottawa, Ontario
Largest City; Toronto, Ontario
Queen; Elizabeth II
Governor-General; Adrienne Clarkson
Prime minister; Jean Chrétien
Area; 9,984,670 km²
Population; 32,207,113
Independence; British North America Act July 1, 1867
Currency; Canadian dollar ($)
Time zone; UTC -3.5 to -8
National anthem; O Canada
Internet TLD; .CA
Phone Calling Code; 1

Origin of the name
The name Canada originated from a Huron-Iroquoian word, Kanata meaning "village" [1], referring to Stadacona, a settlement on the site of present-day Quebec City.
In practice, the country's official name is simply Canada.
It has been argued that the country's official name still is The Dominion of Canada, as the British North America Act, section 3, created "one Dominion under the name of Canada;" and while the 1982 Canadian Constitution does not use the term, neither does it amend the earlier usage.
However, starting in the 1950s the federal government began to gradually phase out the use of the word "Dominion" in official texts and instead simply refer to the nation as "Canada."
The last major change was renaming the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1982.
Dominion is still occasionally used to distinguish the federal government as from the provinces.

Canada, which has been inhabited by natives including the First Nations and the Inuit for about 10,000 years, was first visited by Europeans around 1000, when the Vikings briefly had a settlement.
More permanent European visits came in the 16th and 17th century, as the French settled here.
They traded much of their lands with the British in 1763, and after the American Revolution, many British Loyalists settled in Canada.
With the passing of the British North America Act the British government granted the request of the French and English leaders of the colony of Canada, the status of an self-governing country on July 1, 1867.
More definitive independence came in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster, and in 1982 with the repatriation of Canada's constitution.
On July 7, 1969 French was made equal to English throughout the Canadian national government.
In the second half of the 20th century, some citizens of the French-speaking province of Quebec have sought independence, but two referendums have been defeated, albeit marginally in the last case (50.6% were against independence).

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, the head of state being the monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.
The monarch's representative in Canada is the Governor-General, who fills the role of approving bills, and other state functions.
For the most part, the monarch (through her representative, the Governor-General) is a figurehead, and what little real power she has is reserved for times of crisis.
The text of Canada's constitution can be found at this page.
It should be noted that the province of Quebec has refused to ratify the Constitution Act, 1982, which contained procedures for amending the Constitution.
The Governor-General is appointed by the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the political party that holds the most seats in the House of Commons.
The legislative branch of government consists of the Parliament, including the elected House of Commons and the appointed Senate.
Canada is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie, NATO, the G7, and APEC.

Provinces and territories
Canada is divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories.
The provinces have a reasonable large autonomy from the federal government, while the territories have somewhat less.
The provinces and territories each have their own unicameral legislatures.
The provinces are: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan.
And the territories: Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon.

Eastern Canada is divided between boreal forest and the barren Canadian Shield in the north and the highly fertile Saint Lawrence River Valley in the south, where most of the country's population is concentrated.
Large parts of south central Canada are covered by plains and prairies.
The west of Canada mostly consists of rolling terrain on either side of the Rocky Mountains.
The Hudson Bay sea arm cuts deep into the country.
A number of large lakes are located throughout Canada, including the Great Lakes, which form part of the border with the United States.
The vast north of the country is mainly arctic lowlands with a polar climate, and is therefore extremely sparsely populated; for example, fewer than 30,000 people live in Nunavut Territory, which is the size of Western Europe.
Most of the major cities are located in the more temperate south, with largest concentration in the east.
The largest cities are (in descending order population wise): Toronto, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; Vancouver, British Columbia; Calgary, Alberta; and the capital, Ottawa, Ontario.

As an affluent, high-tech industrial society, Canada today closely resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards.
Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban.
Energy self-sufficient, Canada has vast deposits of natural gas on the East Coast and in the three western provinces, and a plethora of other natural resources.
The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US.
As a result of the close cross-border relationship, the economic downturn in the United States in 2001 had a negative impact on the Canadian economy.
Real growth averaged nearly 3% from 1993 to 2000, but declined in 2001.
As of [[2003], unemployment is up, with contraction in the manufacturing and natural resource sectors.
Nevertheless, with its great natural resources, skilled labour force, and modern capital plant, Canada enjoys solid economic prospects.
Two shadows loom, the first being the continuing constitutional impasse between English and French speaking areas, which has been raising the possibility of a split in the federation. Another long-term concern is fears of a flow south to the US of professionals, referred to as the Brain Drain, lured by higher pay, lower taxes, and the immense high-tech infrastructure.
However, "Brain Gain", a largely unrecognised phenomenon, is progressing simultaneously, cancelling out "Brain Drain" or even exceeding it, as educated immigrants enter Canada in the late 20th century and 21st century. [2]

As of 2001, 66% of Canadians are of European descent (mostly British and French origins), 26% are of mixed backgrounds, and 6% are of solely non-European descent, mostly from Asia.
Only 2% of the population is formed by the native population. Canada's two official languages are French and English; French is mostly spoken in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick.
An immigrant-heavy nation, fully one-sixth of Canadians are foreign-born, a percentage second only to Australia.
Most Canadians are Christians, with about 42% being Roman Catholic, and 38% Protestant.

Canadian culture is heavily influenced by British and American influences.
The province of Quebec has maintained a distinct French culture, which is protected by special laws and constitutional agreements.
For example, Quebec uses civil law based on the Napoleonic code, whereas the rest of the county uses common law derived from the British parliamentary tradition.
The large American cultural presence in Canada has prompted some fears of a cultural take-over, and has initiated the establishment of many laws and institutions to protect Canadian culture.
Unlike the United States, Canada is not a melting-pot; unique cultures are encouraged.

January 1; New Year's Day, Jour de l'an Statutory.
Good Friday (varies), Vendredi saint Statutory. Typically celebrated in April.
Easter Monday (varies), Pâques. Typically celebrated in April.
Monday preceding May 25 Victoria Day; Fête de la Reine (Quebec: Fête des Patriotes) Celebration of the Queen's birthday. Statutory.
July 1 Canada Day, Fête du Canada. Statutory. Commemoration of Canada's 1867 Confederation.
First Monday in September Labour Day, Fête du Travail Statutory.
Second Monday in October Thanksgiving, Action de grâce Statutory. Thanksgiving is not celebrated on the same day as it is in the U.S.
November 11 Remembrance Day, Jour du souvenir Observance of Canada's war dead.
December 25 Christmas, Noël. Statutory.
December 26 Boxing Day, Lendemain de Noël Statutory. Day when shops sell off excess Christmas inventory.

Note: Each province also has its own provincial holiday or holidays. Links: Canadian Heritage.
International rankings Said to be the #1 country to live in, 7 years in a row, as decided by the UN.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

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All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

This information is correct in 2002. E. & O.E.

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