Canada is the second largest country of the world, with an area of 9,984,670 km², of which 9,093,507 km² is land mass and 891,163 km² is water, running through 6 time zones. It is larger than the entire European Union and 120 times larger than Austria. Canada has the world’s longest coastline with around 202,080 km. It holds 20% of the world’s freshwater resources and 30% of the world’s boreal forest. Most of the 35 million Canadians live in its largest cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa with the effect that Canada has one of the lowest population densities in the world with just 3.4-inhabitants/ km². Its official languages are English and French but in Nunavut, Inuktitut also has the status of an official language. The majority of the Canadian provinces are Anglophone with the exception of Quebec being Francophone and New Brunswick being bilingual.
The Vikings, under Leif Eriksson, first tried to colonize the area that is today’s Canada in the year 1000 followed by British expeditions at the end of the 15th century led by Jean Cabot and in the early 16th century by Frenchman Jacques Cartier. These first attempts did not produce any permanent European settlements but finally in 1604 it was the French led by Samuel de Champlain who set up the first durable settlement in Port Royal, present day Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia. The numerous wars between France and England resulted in most North American colonies being dominated by the British from 1763 onwards. In 1867, several of the British colonies formed a Confederation, creating the Dominion of Canada. Canada fully repatriated its Constitution from Great Britain in 1982.
Politically, Canada is a federation with ten provinces as well as three government-administered territories. It has a representative parliamentary democracy and is a constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State and is represented in Canada by the Governor General. The Canadian Parliament consists of the democratically elected House of Commons and the Senate, whose members are nominated. The Prime Minister is the head of government and is formally nominated by the Governor General.
Culturally, Canada has been influenced by Europe, in particular by English, French, Irish, German but also Austrian backgrounds. The interplay of these historical European traditions combined with a surge of immigration from other continents in the 20th century constitutes the characteristic multiculturalism of Canada. The Canadian native peoples or ‘first nations’ enjoy a special status within Canadian society.
Canada’s Capital City: Ottawa