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Canada - Overview
Population: Canada's population is approximately 32 million, 77 percent of whom live in cities and towns.
Languages: English (official) 59.3%, French (official) 23.2%, other 17.5%
Religions: Roman Catholic 42.6%, Protestant 23.3% (including United Church 9.5%, Anglican 6.8%, Baptist 2.4%, Lutheran 2%), other Christian 4.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other and unspecified 11.8%, none 16% (2001 census)
Currency: Canadian dollar (CAD)
Timezones: Canada uses six primary time zones. From east to west they are Newfoundland Time Zone, Atlantic Time Zone, Eastern Time, Central Time Zone, Mountain Time Zone, and the Pacific Time Zone.
The capital of the country is Ottawa, although the largest city is actually Toronto. Canada is a bilingual country with French and English both serving as official languages. Those who move to a French-speaking part of the country should be aware that there are slight differences in culture due to the influence of French rule. The currency in use is the Canadian dollar.
Canada was first inhabited by native Indians, of which there were several tribes, before Europeans began moving to the country. Canada has been ruled by both France and England over the last few centuries, before gaining independence.
Canada is located to the north of the USA. To the east sits the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific is to the west and the Arctic Ocean is to the north of the country. In total there are more than 200,000 km of coastline and the size of the country means that there are varying climates across the country. The terrain of the country consists mainly of plains. In the west of the country there are mountains and Canada has a number of excellent ski resorts. The highest point in the country is Mount Logan at just under 6000 metres. Less than 1% of the land is used for permanent crops and less than 5% is arable land. In the north there is continuous permafrost.
There are 10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada. British Columbia has Victoria for a capital and is also home to Vancouver. It is a popular destination for skiers, golfers and has its own wine region. The capital of Alberta province is Edmonton and the region is also home to Calgary. The province of Saskatchewan has Regina for a capital and is particularly popular with all those who enjoy outdoor sports. Manitoba province has Winnipeg for a capital and is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World. Ontario is one of the most popular destinations for travellers in Canada and has Toronto for a provincial capital as well as being home to the nation’s capital city of Ottawa. In addition visitors can also take in the world famous resort of Niagara Falls.
The province of Quebec has Quebec City for a capital and is also the home of the city of Montreal. This is the main French-speaking part of the country and the culture here is very much influenced by France. New Brunswick has Fredericton for a provincial capital and is famous for its tranquil coastline. Nova Scotia has a very Celtic heritage and the province capital is Halifax. Prince Edward Island has Charlottetown for a capital and will be forever associated with Anne of Green Gables. The final province is Newfoundland and Labrador and has St John’s for a capital. Visitors to the area take part in whale watching.
The Yukon is one of the country’s territories and has Whitehorse for a capital. It is the location of the Gold Rush and visitors are able to see the Northern Lights on occasion as they can in the Northwest Territories, where Yellowknife is the capital. The final territory is Nunavut which has Iqaluit for a capital and is the youngest territory in the country. The territories are the northern-most parts of the country and therefore the least populated and the coldest. Vast areas of each are wilderness and there is little industry there.
Each province and territory has its own government, creates its own laws in line with national laws and works closely with the federal authorities. Each oversees education and health in its own territory and sends elected officials to serve in the national parliament.
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