Official name – Canada
Capital City – Ottawa
Largest cities – Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg
Total area – 9 985 000 sq km
Population – 33 390 000 people
Main religions – Roman Catholic, Protestant, other Christian, Muslim
Major ethnic groups – British origin, French origin, other European, Asian, Arab, African, Indian and others
Consists of – 10 provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Price Edward Island), 3 territories (the Northwest territories, Yukon, Nunavut)
Currency – Canadian Dollar (C$) CAD
Official language – English, French
Nationality – singular a Canadian plural Canadians
Form of government – Confederation with parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
Natural resources – iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, timber, natural gas, fish
Flag – the Maple Leaf
Canada is situated in the northern part of the continent of North America. It does not include Alaska.
Canada has an area of nearly ten million square kilometers. It is the second largest country in area after Russia.
Its land boundaries are along the United States of America in the South and along Alaska (USA) in the North-West.
Its western coast is washed by the Pacific Ocean and its eastern coast is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. In the North it washed by the Arctic Ocean. And through the Arctic Ocean Canada stretches to the North Pole. This makes Canada the northernmost country in the world.
The country is very big and occupies the territory from the Great Lakes in the South to the Arctic Circle in the North. So, it has many different types of land: arctic tundra, mountains, forest, central plains and vast prairies, high plants, fjords, lakes and rivers, islands and even a desert.
There are many islands in the North – the best known is Victoria Island.
The Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains run along the Pacific coast.
The Western Cordillera is famous for the country’s highest mountain, Mount Logan, 5 951 metres high. It is situated on the territory of Yukon.
In Labrador and parallel to the eastern coast of Canada there are also mountains. Labrador is a peninsula on the eastern coast of Canada. Some mountains are also on the island of Baffin Land.
Almost half of the territory of Canada is occupied by the Canadian Shield. It is a huge area which has a shape of a horse-shoe. It stretches around the Hudson Bay from Labrador coast to the St. Lawrence lowlands. The Canadian Shield is:
the largest natural region in Canada;
the world’s largest freshwater island;
the most sparsely populated territory in Canada.
Geographers gave this region its name because they thought its shape was like a shield.
It is peculiar that water is everywhere in Canada. This country contains more freshwater than any other country – 25 per cent of the world’s resources.
Apart from the oceans on its sides, Canada is a country of lakes. It has seven of the word’s largest lakes (some shared with the US). The province of Ontario alone has 400 000 lakes, big and small, so many that we can hardly count them.
The great Lakes are situated along the boundary between Canada and the USA. They include 5 lakes:
the Michigan (this lake is on the territory of the USA)
There are three large lakes such as:
Great Bear Lake
Great Slave Lake
In addition to the lakes Canada has three of 20 world’s largest rivers:
the St. Lawrence River
All of them flow into three different oceans: the St. Lawrence River flows into the Atlantic Ocean,
the Mackenzie flows into the Arctic Ocean from the Rocky Mountains and the Yukon flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Besides these three, there are also the Nelson and the Saskatchewan.
Niagara Falls are one of the most wonderful sights in the world. They are located on the Niagara River between the province of Ontario in Canada and the state of New York in the USA.
Since Canada is so big and stretches for thousands of kilometres it has many climatic regions with their own weather conditions.
Winter in Canada lasts from four to five months with heavy snowfalls. There is much rain in the east and west but less in the central area. The North of the country, near the Atlantic, is tundra with great forests to the South. The central plains form the prairies – a large area of grass-covered land.
There are many trees in this country – forests cover around 25 per cent of its land. Plant life is different and depends much on climate and land. Most common trees are sugar maple, beech, balsam poplar, fir, yellow pine, hemlock and cedar. (sugar maple – клен сахарный, beech – бук, буковое дерево, balsam poplar – тополь индейский бальзамический, fir – пихта, ель, yellow pine – желтая сосна, hemlock – тсуга (хвойное дерево)
The maple tree (клен) has become the most prominent Canadian symbol. Its leaf can be found on
the Flag of Canada, its coat of arms, coins and many other things.
The animals in the country have very much in common with those of Northern Europe and Asia. There is the beaver, the sable, the wolverine, the brown bear, the elk, the polar bear, the buffalo, the lemming and the grizzly bear.
The beaver became the official emblem of Canada in 1975.
The country has such mineral resources as iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, diamonds, silver, coal, natural gas.
Forests (with timber) and rivers (with hydropower stations and fish) and its wildlife are other important natural resources there.
Canada is one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural products (wheat, meat, dairy products, some kinds of fruit, especially apples).
Canada’s fishing industry is still important on both the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts. Its largest ports are Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax.
The history of Canada as a country is over 400 years. But long before the first European explorers came to the continent of North America, the territory of Canada was populated by many Aboriginal peoples.
These Aboriginal peoples were Indians and Eskimos who were the first settlers in Canada. Scientists think that these people came from Asia. But how did they do it?
Some have an opinion that they crossed the Bering Strait (it is rather narrow) in boats. Some believe that Asia and North America were connected by a land bridge and Indians and Eskimos used it successfully. Depending on the environment where these people lived, they led nomadic or settled lifestyles. They were farmers, hunters or fishermen.
About a thousand years ago other settles came to North America. They were Vikings. We can find the ruins of their settlement in the north of Newfoundland island.
The first Europeans arrived to Canada at the end of the 15th century. John Cabot was a sea captain. In 1497 he together with his son and 17 other men decided to cross the sea and to find a sea route to India. The King of England was persuaded to let them do it.
When Cabot and his men saw the land, they thought it was Asia. They did not understand that it was a new continent.
No riches and gold were brought from their voyage. But they found not less important treasure – a lot of fish in the water near Newfoundland.
Since those times it is impossible to imagine Canada without fishing.
Later, in 1534, the French King sent Jacque Cartier to find the water way to the Far East. Cartier went several times to the New World and tried to found a colony on the banks of the St. Lawrence river (Montreal is located there today) but he failed.
Permanent French and British settlements began in the early 1600’s. The French were the first who settled in this land. In 1608 Samuel de Champlain built the first permanent French settlement. He named it Quebec.
In 1615 William Baffin was to come to the shores of the largest Canadian island near Greenland. He spent one year on this island. And the island got its name after this navigator.
French settlers began to build forts to the south of the Great Lakers in the valley of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
At the same time English colonists began to settle along the Atlantic coast. This was the real beginning of Canada, the beginning of wars with Indians and European colonists and also the beginning o wars between France and the British Empire for the Canadian territory.
In 1759 France lost Canada and it became a British colony. Under the British rule, the 65 000 French-speaking inhabitants of the country had a single aim – to keep their traditions, language and culture.
Later, Canada was given its independence but it remained part of the British Empire. So, Great Britain and France were fighting for the control over Canada until 1763.
As a result, France signed a treaty giving up all its claims to land on the continent of North America. But the French people who lived in Canada did not return to France, they continued to follow the customs and religion of their native land. They become “French Canadians”.
The population of Canada is over 33 million people. About 28 per cent of its population is of British Isles origin; about 23 per cent are of French origin. Other European people make 20 per cent. Other European people make 20 per cent. Others are indigenous Indian and Inuit, Asian, African and Arab people.
Since the formation of Canada millions of immigrants from the USA, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Russia, Poland, Scandinavia and other countries have moved to Canada. In Canada there are 330 000 Indians and 25 000 Eskimos who live mostly in the North.
Canada is the only member of the Commonwealth which has two languages – English and French. Today about one fifth of the Canadians speak French and about two thirds speak English.
French Canada still keeps some of its old traditions. In Quebec children and teachers speak French and textbooks are written in French.
There are also 53 native languages. In addition, you can find plenty of Chinese, German and Portuguese speakers. Even in Quebec, where French is the official language, English is widely spoken.
Cities, provinces and territories of Canada.Canada is independent federative state consisting of ten provinces and three territories.
Canadian provinces are:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island (in the Atlantic Ocean)
Quebec is the biggest province in size. The majority of Quebec population speaks French. English is
spoken by only 10 per cent of people living there.
Quebec City is the capital of this province and it is the centre of French-speaking part of
Canada. In fact, not only Quebec is the province where French-speaking Canadians live.
The province of Ontario is the largest in population. It is also the heart of Canadian economy. Ontario has also some of Canada’s most important universities. The capital of this province is
The three Territories:
the Northwest Territories;
Ottawa is the capital of Canada and its fourth largest city in the country. It is in the province of
Ontario. The city is situated on the banks of the Ottawa River which forms the boundary between Ontario and Quebec. It is also the centre where the federal government sits.
Other large important cities are:
Toronto – the largest city in Canada, the country’s economic capital;
Montreal – the second largest city in Canada and the largest city in the province of Quebec;
Vancouver – the largest port in the Pacific area, was named after British explorer, George Vancouver;
Calgary – the largest city in the province of Alberta, well-known destination for sports and ecotourism;
Edmonton – the capital of the province Alberta, is in the area of the most fertile farmland;
Winnipeg – the capital of Manitoba is called “The Gateway to the West” (because all raid and highway traffic from eastern Canada to western Canada goes through this city);
Quebec City – the capital of Quebec province, one of the oldest cities in North America (was founded in 1608);
Halifax – the capital of Nova Scotia.
National Symbols and the National Flag of Canada.Canada is often called “the land of the maple leaf” because a maple leaf is the national symbol of
the country. It became an emblem of Canada in 1836. But it did not receive official status until the National Flag of Canada was adopted by Her Majesty the Queen in 1965. Today the maple leaf appears on one cent coin. But between 1876 and 1901it appeared on the all Canadian coins. For many years it has been the symbol of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Maple leaf pins and badges are proudly worn by Canadians abroad, and are recognized around the world.
Trees always played important role in the history of Canada. Although the maple leaf is closely associated with Canada, the maple leaf is closely associated with Canada; the maple tree was never officially recognized as Canada’s arboreal emblem until 1996. Maples have very good wood, they provide for maple sugar industry and, of course, for beautiful landscape.
Now all provinces have established arboreal emblems and this emblem is an important element within the family of national symbols.
Red and white are Canada’s official colours. They were made Canada’s colours by King George V on November 21st, 1921 in the proclamation of Canada’s coat of arms. With the maple leaf, these colours are the symbolic elements shown in the Canadian flag.
The national flag of Canada, well-known as “the Maple Leaf”, is a red 11-pointed maple leaf in the centre on a white field. On each side there is a broad, vertical red stripe. It was adopted on February 15th, 1965.
It is the symbol of Canadian identity. During one official ceremony the Speaker of the Senate once told about the symbolic meaning of the Canadian flag: “The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion”.
Canada’s Coat of Arms has three maple leaves below the royal arms of England, Scotland, Ireland and France.
The beaver is the official animal symbol of Canada. It also appears on the coins. The beaver got official status of the emblem of Canada and the symbol of the sovereignty of Canada on March 24th, 1975. Today, thanks to silk hats, the beaver – the largest rodent in Canada – is alive and well all over the country.
The political system of the country.On the international scene Canada has its reputation and influence. Canada has participation since its
beginning and is the only nation which has taken part in all of the UN’s major peacekeeping operations. Canada is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (nations which once belonged to the British Empire). Formally the Head of State in Canada in the King or the Queen of England represented by the Governor General.
So, the Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of Canada and is the symbol of nation’s unity. But ties with Great Britain are not so strong as they used to be.
Canadians celebrate their Independence Day on July 1st with fireworks and picnics.
Canada is a great example of how people of different styles of life and different languages can live side by side under one government.
The Canada government is monarchy with a federal system, a parliamentary government and with strong democratic traditions.
Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories. In every single province there is a separate government.
The Senate and the House of commons make up the federal government. Governor General appoints the members of the Senate. The members of the House of Commons are elected for a period of five years.
Canada’s government is headed by the Prime Minister who is the leader of the political party in power. Senators are appointed by the Governor General. The House of Commons is elected by the people for a period of 5 years.
Ottawa is the seat of the Federal Parliament and the government. There are such political parties in Canada as the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party.
…about Canadian culture…
Culture of Canada, like of all cultures, is the result of the history, geography and political events of the country. Canada is a country mainly of immigrants who had come there in different times. European culture and traditions (especially British and French) have great influence Canadian culture. More than that, over time some elements were taken from Aboriginal peoples, culture and, of course, from that of the United States. So, now it is a blend of customs, traditions and values.
There are nine stationary holydays in Canada. A statutory holiday is also known as a “general” or “public” holiday when most workers have a day off. There holidays are New Year’s Day (January 1st), Good Friday (Friday before Easter Sunday), Victoria Day (Monday on or before May 24th), Canada Day (July 1st), Labour Day (first Monday of September), Thanksgiving Day (second Monday of October which is not the same day as in the USA), Remembrance Day (November 11th), Christmas Day (December 26th).
Each Canadian province has its own provincial holyday. There are also such unofficial holidays as St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Halloween.
Canadian official winter sport is ice hockey or simply hockey and official summer sport is lacross (Canada’s oldest ball game with Aboriginal origins).
Next Canada’s popular sport is Canadian football, which is similar to American football.
Other popular sports include baseball, basketball, curling, field hockey and ice skating, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding and water sports.