Facts about Canada

World Facts Index > Canada > Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver

CanadaA land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across an unfortified border. Canada's paramount political problem is meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care and education services after a decade of budget cuts. Canada also faces questions about integrity in government following revelations regarding a corruption scandal in the federal government that has helped revive the fortunes of separatists in predominantly francophone Quebec.

Geography of Canada

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 US
60 00 N, 95 00 W
total: 9,976,140 sq km
land: 9,220,970 sq km
water: 755,170 sq km
Area comparative:
somewhat larger than the US
Land boundaries:
total: 8,893 km
border countries: US 8,893 km (includes 2,477 km with Alaska)
202,080 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
varies from temperate in south to subarctic and arctic in north
mostly plains with mountains in west and lowlands in southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Logan 5,959 m
Natural resources:
iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas, hydropower
Natural hazards:
continuous permafrost in north is a serious obstacle to development; cyclonic storms form east of the Rocky Mountains, a result of the mixing of air masses from the Arctic, Pacific, and North American interior, and produce most of the country's rain and snow east of the mountains
Environment - current issues:
air pollution and resulting acid rain severely affecting lakes and damaging forests; metal smelting, coal-burning utilities, and vehicle emissions impacting on agricultural and forest productivity; ocean waters becoming contaminated due to agricultural, industrial, mining, and forestry activities
Geography - note:
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 US border

Population of Canada

33,212,696 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.6% (male 2,992,811/female 2,848,388)
15-64 years: 69% (male 11,482,452/female 11,368,286)
65 years and over: 13.3% (male 1,883,008/female 2,523,987)
Median age:
38.9 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
4.69 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80.22 years
male: 76.86 years
female: 83.74 years
Total fertility rate:
1.61 children born/woman
noun: Canadian(s)
adjective: Canadian
Ethnic groups:
British Isles origin 28%, French origin 23%, other European 15%, Amerindian 2%, other, mostly Asian, African, Arab 6%, mixed background 26%
Roman Catholic 46%, Protestant 36%, other 18%
note: based on the 1991 census
English 59.3% (official), French 23.2% (official), other 17.5%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%


Government type:
confederation with parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions:
10 provinces and 3 territories*; Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories*, Nova Scotia, Nunavut*, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon Territory*
1 July 1867 (from UK)
National holiday:
Canada Day, 1 July (1867)
17 April 1982 (Constitution Act); originally, the machinery of the government was set up in the British North America Act of 1867; charter of rights and unwritten customs
Legal system:
based on English common law, except in Quebec, where civil law system based on French law prevails; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Michaelle JEAN (since 27 September 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Stephen HARPER (since 6 February 2006)
cabinet: Federal Ministry chosen by the prime minister usually from among the members of his own party sitting in Parliament
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister for a five-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition in the House of Commons is automatically designated prime minister by the governor general
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (members appointed by the governor general with the advice of the prime minister and serve until reaching 75 years of age; its normal limit is 105 senators) and the House of Commons or Chambre des Communes (308 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve for up to five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court of Canada (judges are appointed by the prime minister through the governor general); Federal Court of Canada; Federal Court of Appeal; Provincial Courts (these are named variously Court of Appeal, Court of Queens Bench, Superior Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Justice).


As an affluent, high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and affluent 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. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US. Given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant, Canada enjoys solid economic prospects. Top-notch fiscal management has produced consecutive balanced budgets since 1997, although public debate continues over the equitable distribution of federal funds to the Canadian provinces. Exports account for roughly a third of GDP. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with its principal trading partner, the US, which absorbs 80% of Canadian exports each year. Canada is the US's largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, uranium, and electric power. During 2007, Canada enjoyed good economic growth, moderate inflation, and the lowest unemployment rate in more than three decades.

$1.271 trillion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.2%
industry: 29.4%
services: 68.4%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
16.3 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 2%, manufacturing 14%, construction 5%, services 75%, other 3%
revenues: $159.6 billion
expenditures: $152.6 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 28%
hydro: 57.9%
other: 1.3% 
nuclear: 12.9%
transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products; wood and paper products; fish products, petroleum, natural gas, tourism
wheat, barley, oilseed, tobacco, fruits, vegetables; dairy products; forest products; fish
motor vehicles and parts, industrial machinery, aircraft, telecommunications equipment; chemicals, plastics, fertilizers; wood pulp, timber, crude petroleum, natural gas, electricity, aluminum
Export partners:
US 84.1%, Japan 2.1%, UK 1.8%
machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and parts, crude oil, chemicals, electricity, durable consumer goods
Import partners:
US 57.5%, China 7.4%, Mexico 3.8%
Canadian dollar (CAD)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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