Canada, also known as the "Land of Opportunities" has been assessed as one of the best countries in the world to live-in.
Some of the important facts about Canada are:
Canada is the world's second-largest country (9 970 610 km2), surpassed only by the Russian Federation.
Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.
Provinces and Territories
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, each with its own capital city (in brackets): Alberta (Edmonton); British Columbia (Victoria); Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown); Manitoba (Winnipeg), New Brunswick (Fredericton); Nova Scotia (Halifax); Ontario (Toronto); Québec (Quebec City); Saskatchewan (Regina); Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John's); Northwest Territories (Yellowknife); Yukon Territory (Whitehorse) and Nunavut (Iqaluit).
Diversity is the keynote of Canada's geography, which includes fertile plains suitable for agriculture, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Wilderness forests give way to Arctic tundra in the Far North.
There are many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the permanently frozen icecaps north of the 70th parallel to the luxuriant vegetation of British Columbia's west coast. Canada's most populous regions, which lie in the country's south along the U.S. border, enjoy four distinct seasons. Here daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35ºC and higher, while lows of -25ºC are not uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall.
Parks and Historic Sites
Canada maintains 38 national parks, which cover about 2% of the country's landmass. Banff, located on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains, is the oldest (est. 1885); Tuktut Nogait, in the Northwest Territories, was established in 1996. There are 836 national historic sites, designated in honour of people, places and events that figure in the country's history. Canada also has over 1000 provincial parks and nearly 50 territorial parks.
Canada's terrain incorporates a number of mountain ranges: the Torngats, Appalachians and Laurentians in the east; the Rocky, Coastal and Mackenzie ranges in the west; and Mount St. Elias and the Pelly Mountains in the north. At 6050 m, Mount Logan in the Yukon is Canada's tallest peak.
There are some two million lakes in Canada, covering about 7.6% of the Canadian landmass. The main lakes, in order of the surface area located in Canada (many large lakes are traversed by the Canada-U.S. border), are Huron, Great Bear, Superior, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Erie and Ontario. The largest lake situated entirely in Canada is Great Bear Lake (31 326 km2) in the Northwest Territories.
The St. Lawrence (3058 km long) is Canada's most important river, providing a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The longest Canadian river is the Mackenzie, which flows 4241 km through the Northwest Territories. Other large watercourses include the Yukon and the Columbia (parts of which flow through U.S. territory), the Nelson, the Churchill, and the Fraser--along with major tributaries such as the Saskatchewan, the Peace, the Ottawa, the Athabasca, and the Liard.
Canada has six time zones. The easternmost, in Newfoundland, is three hours and 30 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The other time zones are the Atlantic, the Eastern, the Central, the Rocky Mountain and, farthest west, the Pacific, which is eight hours behind GMT.
Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a federal state with a democratic parliament. The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa, consists of the House of Commons, whose members are elected, and the Senate, whose members are appointed. On average, members of Parliament are elected every four years.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canada's constitution contains a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which sets out certain fundamental freedoms and rights that neither Parliament nor any provincial legislature acting alone can change. These include equality rights, mobility rights, and legal rights, together with freedoms such as speech, association, and peaceful assembly.
The maple leaf has been associated with Canada for some time: in 1868, it figured in coats of arms granted to Ontario and Quebec; and in both world wars, it appeared on regimental badges. Since the 1965 introduction of the Canadian flag, the maple leaf has become the country's most important symbol.
The Canadian Flag
Several people participated in designing the Canadian flag. Jacques St. Cyr contributed the stylized maple leaf, George Bist the proportions, and Dr. Gunter Wyszechi the colouration. The final determination of all aspects of the new flag was made by a 15-member parliamentary committee, which is formally credited with the design. After lengthy debate, the new flag was adopted by Parliament. It officially became the national flag on February 15, 1965, now recognized as Canada's Flag Day.
O Canada was composed in 1880, with music by Calixa Lavallée and words by Judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier. In 1908, Robert Stanley Weir wrote the translation on which the present English lyric is based. On July 1, 1980, a century after being sung for the first time, O Canada was proclaimed the national anthem.
The Canadian dollar is divided into 100 cents.
33,390,141 (July 2007 est.)
· Toronto (5.1 million, 2006) - Canada's largest city, main commercial centre
· Vancouver (2.1 million, 2004) - beautiful and busy west coast city; third largest city in Canada; home of the 2010 Winter Olympics; western Canada's economic centre (with Calgary)
· Ottawa (1.1 million, 2006) - fourth largest city in Canada; national capital, high tech centre, tourist centre
· Calgary (1.0 million, 2006) - fifth largest city and quickly growing; oil, cowboys, development; home of the Calgary Stampede, the 1988 Winter Olympics and western Canada's economic centre (with Vancouver)
Health Care and Social Security
Basic health care, with the exception of dental services, is free at the point of delivery. And prescription drugs are in most cases dispensed without charge to people over 65 and social aid recipients. Canada also has an extensive social security network, including an old age pension, a family allowance, unemployment insurance and welfare.
In 1996, about 3% of Canadians belonged to one or more of the three Aboriginal groups recognized by the Constitution Act, 1982: North American Indian, Métis, or Inuit. Of this percentage, about 69% are North American Indian, 26% Métis, and 5% Inuit.
Roman Catholic 43.6%, Protestant 29.2%, No religious affiliation 16.5%, Other 10.7% (2001 Census)
Canada has two official languages: English, the mother tongue of about 59% of Canadians; and French, the first language of 23% of the population. A full 18% have either more than one mother tongue or a mother tongue other than English or French, such as Chinese, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Ukrainian, Arabic, Dutch, Tagalog, Greek, Vietnamese, Cree, Inuktitut, or other languages.
The Official Languages Act makes French and English the official languages of Canada and provides for special measures aimed at enhancing the vitality and supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority communities. Canada's federal institutions reflect the equality of its two official languages by offering bilingual services.
The educational system varies from province to province and includes six to eight years of elementary school, four or five years of secondary school and three or four years at the university undergraduate level.
Canada's most popular sports include swimming, ice hockey, cross-country and alpine skiing, baseball, tennis, basketball and golf. Ice hockey and lacrosse are Canada's national sports.
Main Natural Resources
The principal natural resources are natural gas, oil, gold, coal, copper, iron ore, nickel, potash, uranium and zinc, along with wood and water.
These include automobile manufacturing, pulp and paper, iron and steel work, machinery and equipment manufacturing, mining, extraction of fossil fuels, forestry and agriculture.
Canada's leading exports are automobile vehicles and parts, machinery and equipment, high-technology products, oil, natural gas, metals, and forest and farm products.
Health in Canada
Medical services are available from hospitals, doctors and other health care providers. Persons without health insurance coverage are charged directly for these services. Insurance coverage for essential medical services is available to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Each person carries a personal health card which must be shown at the reception desk of the doctor or hospital. Each province has its own particular requirements to obtain a health insurance card so it is important to contact a provincial ministry of health office in the province you reside.
How do you get a health card?
You can apply for a health card at the provincial ministry of health office in your city. You will find the address in the provincial government listings in your telephone book. Take with you your birth certificate, Canada Immigration visa (Record of Landing) and passport. Some provinces also request further documentation showing your name and address and your signature.
All members of your family must have their own coverage. Take their documents with you, and ask the government officer for information about registering them.
Who is eligible to receive a health card?
Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible in all provinces. Certain persons in Canada for a temporary period of time (e.g., temporary workers, holders of a Minister's permit, foreign students, and refugees whose status has been confirmed by the Immigration Refugee Board) are also eligible in some provinces. Essential health care services are available to refugee claimants through the Interim Federal Health Program at Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
How soon are you eligible?
Permanent residents are eligible immediately, except in British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick where there is a three-month waiting period. Persons in Canada temporarily and holding Immigration Canada documentation (e.g., temporary workers, holders of a Minister's permit and foreign students) have different waiting periods, depending on the province. For more information, contact the provincial ministry of health.
Is your health card accepted throughout Canada?
For permanent residents, your health card is primarily for use in the province you live in. if you move to another province, reapply as soon as possible. There are waiting periods before you can be covered, although you are covered by the health plan of the province you left for a certain amount of time. If you are visiting another province, your card can be used in an emergency. Residents residing in a province for a temporary period should contact the provincial health insurance plan office in the province, of permanent residence for further clarification concerning their coverage throughout Canada.
How are medical services paid for?
Most medical services are paid for by various tax measures. Basic hospital charges and doctors' fees are covered. Two provinces charge premiums (British Columbia and Alberta). In general, insured services are provided on a prepaid basis, i.e. provincial plans pay the hospital or doctor directly for services they provide to eligible residents.