Canada is located in North America and stretches all the way
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, being made up of ten Provinces
and three Territories. To the North is the Artic ocean; Davis
Strait on the North East separates it from Greenland, to the
East is the Atlantic Ocean; the South is bordered by the United
States of America and the West by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska.
A country of outstanding natural beauty, Canada has a wide
variety of landscapes; the mountains, the prairies, lakes and
rivers with many national and provincial parks to protect the
habitats. With a total land mass of 9,984,670 sq km (3,855,103
sq mi), Canada is the second largest country in the world. There
are more lakes and inland waters in Canada than any other
country, in fact 7.6% or 755,180 sq km (291,577 sq) is made up
of fresh water.
Most images of Canada refer to the Mounties, bears, snow or the
Rocky Mountains with the amazing turquoise lakes though there is
truly more to this vast landscape. Tourism is a large part of
the economy with the abundant natural resources quickly turning
Canada into a rich and vibrant country that is a permanent
listing at the top of the best places to live. With distinct
seasons - the winters are cold with plentiful snow and then warm
summers, the best way to survive is to make the most of natures
offerings. Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are popular
pastimes and great exercise and fun. In the summer, hiking,
camping and exploring the great outdoors are fantastic ways to
spend your free time. This is especially true when you are
amongst the most breathtaking and fabulous scenery the world has
The monetary unit is the Canadian Dollar. It is made up of cents
with 100 cents making 1 Canadian dollar. There are 1 cent coins
usually called a penny, 5 cent coins usually called a nickel, 10
cent coins called a dime, 25 cent coins called a quarter, 1
dollar coins called a loonie and two dollar coins called a
twoonie. The notes or bills are in 5 dollar, 10 dollar, 20
dollar, 50 dollar and 100 dollar denominations. The Canadian
dollar traditionally trades at a lower value than its American
counterpart but is now coming closer to parity.
All motor vehicles are driven on the right hand side of the road
and are left hand drive. Each Province or Territory is
responsible for its own driving laws and regulations so each has
a different system.
Canada has a population of 30,007,094 (2001 Census), compared
with 28,846,761 (1996 Census) which shows a 4% increase. Most of
the population lives in the cities and most of these are located
in the South of the country; about three quarters of the
population live within about 300 kms of the U.S border. The most
populated Provinces are Ontario and Quebec with Toronto (in
Ontario) being the most populated city.
There are two official languages - English and French - and
Montreal in Quebec is the world's largest French-speaking city
outside of France. All of the services offered by the Federal
Government are in English and French. Almost every product you
buy has English and French on the labels and most public
services are available in both languages. Outside of Quebec the
majority of people speak English; about 18 percent of Canadians
are fluently bilingual.
The First Nations or Indian people were the original inhabitants
of Canada and the name comes from their language and means
"Village" or "Community". The Vikings, who arrived in the 11th
century and didn't stay for long, were the first Europeans to
land in Canada.
More Europeans arrived in the 16th century bringing with them
manufactured goods which they traded for furs and native
products - because of this they were made welcome by the
indigenous people. The two main groups of European settlers were
the French, who came first, and then the English. Despite France
losing its part of the territory to Britain in a war in 1760,
many of the French speaking people stayed. In 1867, three
colonies of Britain merged in an event called Confederation;
this created a partially independent state of four Provinces.
Six more Provinces and three Territories have since been added
and in 1931 full independence was achieved. Canada still belongs
to the Commonwealth of Nations.
Canada is a Democratic Federation and has both a Federal and
Provincial Governments. The responsibilities and powers are
divided between the Federal and Provincial Governments which
make for a complex political system.
Public education is the responsibility of each Provincial
Government (please refer to our Provincial pages for more
information) and is paid for through taxes. Public education is
free and all children are required by law to attend school from
the age of 6 years until they are 15 or 16, the majority of
students continue until they are 18 and graduate high school
with a high school diploma. The main languages of instruction
are English and French.
Canada has a public health care system; essential medical
treatment is available to all Canadian citizens and permanent
residents. Although the health care systems are run by the
Provincial ministries of health, the Federal Government sets the
standards for health care across the country.
There are three Provinces that charge healthcare premiums (BC,
Alberta & Ontario). In the other Provinces and Territories
healthcare is paid for through taxes. In some Provinces there is
a three month waiting period before you qualify for healthcare, so you should make sure that you have
insurance to cover any medical expenses for this period.
About the author:
The author immigrated to Canada in 2003 and has constructed a
free information website
www.onestopimmigration-canada.com about Canada and
Canadian Immigration based on his family's experiences.