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Compiled by O. Zabolotnyi
Kyiv, 2008

General Information Right: Flag of


Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending

from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and
northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by
total area, and shares land borders with the United States to the south and

For centuries the land was inhabited by various Native American tribes.
Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored
and later settled the Atlantic coast. France lost nearly all of its colonies in
North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of
three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was
formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. Later more territories and
provinces joined them. The process of increasing the dominion’s autonomy
from the United Kingdom, highlighted by the Statute of Westminster in 1931,
and, finally, culminated in the Canada Act in 1982 which made Canada a
truly independent state.

A federation
now comprising
ten provinces
and three
territories (see
the map on the
left), Canada is
a parliamentary
democracy and
a constitutional
monarchy, with
Elizabeth II as
its head of
state. It is a
bilingual and
country, with
both English
and French as
languages at the federal level. Technologically advanced and industrialized,
Canada maintains a diversified economy that is heavily reliant upon its
abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United
States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. Total
area of 9,984,670 square kilometers ranks Canada as the second largest
country in the world (after Russia). Population of nearly 32 million people
(according to the 2006 census) consists of different ethnic groups, of which
28% are British, 23% - French, 3.5% belong to aboriginal Native Americans,
and about 47% represent other groups (Chinese, Indian, Ukrainians etc.)

Symbols and Holidays

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Motto: A Mari Usque ad Mare (Latin) found on the Coat of

Arms means “From Sea to Sea” (see on the right). It
displays a Royal Lion holding the British Flag and a
Unicorn with the fleur-de-lis Flag of Quebec. Both figures
are of the same design as those of the United Kingdom’s
Coat of arms. The shield represents the emblems of
Great Britain and Quebec (three maple leaves) to
indicate the British and French background of the

National Anthem: “O, Canada”

Royal Anthem: “God, Save the Queen”

July 1 - Canada Day: On July 1, 1867 the Constitution act united existing
Canadian territories into one Dominion under the name of CANADA. Today it
is the main national holiday in Canada.

Quebec National Day is celebrated primarily by the French-speaking

Canadians on June 24, when they honor their patron Saint
Jean Baptiste (John the Baptist).

Beaver: The beaver has been a symbol of the sovereignty

of Canada since 1975 (see the token on the right).


The name Canada comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian

word kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement". In 1535,
inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the
word to direct explorer Jacques Cartier toward the village of
Stadacona. Cartier used the word 'Canada' to refer to not
only that village, but the entire area subject to Donnacona,
Chief at Stadacona. By 1545, European books and maps
began referring to this region as Canada.

Left: Jacques Cartier, the French explorer


French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the

first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City
in 1608. These would become respectively the capitals of Acadia and
Canada. Among French colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively
settled the Saint Lawrence River valley, Acadians settled the present-day
Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the
Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The
French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade.

The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and

colonized the Thirteen Colonies to the south. A series of four Intercolonial
Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763. Mainland Nova Scotia came under
British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the

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Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded Canada and most of New France to Britain
following the Seven Years' War.

Canada (Upper and Lower) was the main front in the War of 1812 between
the United States and British Empire. Its defense contributed to a sense of
unity among British North Americans. Large-scale immigration to Canada
began in 1815 from Britain and Ireland. The timber industry surpassed the
fur trade in importance in the early nineteenth century.

The Act of Union 1840 merged The Canadas into a United Province of
Canada. French and English Canadians worked together in the Assembly to
reinstate French rights. Responsible government was established for all
British North American provinces by 1849.

Following several constitutional conferences, the Constitution Act, 1867

brought about Confederation creating "one Dominion under the name of
Canada" on July 1, 1867, with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia,
and New Brunswick.

Canada automatically entered World War I in 1914 with Britain's declaration

of war, sending volunteers to the Western Front, who played a substantial
role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Right: Canadian soldiers won the Battle of Vimy Ridge in


Canada declared war on Germany

independently during World War II three days
after Britain. The first Canadian Army units
arrived in Britain in December 1939. Canadian
troops played important roles in the Battle of the
Atlantic, the failed 1942 Dieppe Raid in France,
the Allied invasion of Italy, the D-Day landings, the Battle of Normandy and
the Schelda in 1944. Canada is credited by the Netherlands for having
provided asylum and protection for its monarchy during the war after the
country was occupied and the Netherlands credits Canada for its leadership
and major contribution to the liberation of Netherlands from Nazi Germany.
The Canadian economy boomed as industry manufactured military materiel
for Canada, Britain, China and the Soviet Union. In 1945, during the war,
Canada became one of the first countries to join the United Nations.

In 1949, Newfoundland joined Confederation. Post-war prosperity and

economic expansion ignited a baby boom and attracted immigration from
war-ravaged European countries.

After years of debate constitutional conferences led by Prime Minister

Trudeau resulted in the partition of the constitution from Britain, building a
Charter of Rights and Freedoms based on individual rights into the
Constitution Act of 1982. Canadians continue to take pride in their system of
universal health care, their commitment to
multiculturalism, and human rights.

Left: The Constitution Act, 1982 during the official

signing ceremony by Queen Elizabeth II in Ottawa on
April 17, 1982.

Government and politics

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Left: Parliament Hill, Ottawa

Canada is a constitutional monarchy with

Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, as head of
state and the Prime Minister as the head of
the government. All the Queen’s powers are
exercised by her representative, the
Governor General. In the 1990s Ramon
Hnatyshyn, a man of Ukrainian background,
served as the Governor General. The country
is a parliamentary democracy with a federal
system of parliamentary government and
strong democratic traditions.

The written Constitution of Canada is not a single document. It includes Acts

of the British and Canadian parliaments, and other documents. The
Parliament consists of the Queen, the Senate and the House of Commons.
The Senate has 104 members appointed by the Prime Minister, headed by
the speaker appointed by the Cabinet. They serve in their office till age 75.
No bill can become a law unless it has been approved by the Senate. The
House of Commons is the main law-making body. It has 282 members, and
its Speaker is elected by the House itself. The Prime
Minister, who is the leader of the party that holds the
majority in the House of Commons, is appointed by the
Governor-General. The Prime Minister chooses the
members of the Cabinet. Traditionally, every province
must have at least 1 cabinet minister. Ontario and
Quebec have 10 or 12 ministers each. One of the Quebec ministers must be
an English-speaking Protestant.

Left: The chamber of the House of Commons

Five parties are represented in the federal parliament since 2006 elections:
the Conservative Party of Canada (governing party), the Liberal Party of
Canada (Official Opposition), the New Democratic Party (NDP), Bloc
Québécois and the Green Party of Canada.

Canada and the United States share the world's longest undefended border,
co-operate on military campaigns and exercises, and are each other's largest
trading partners. Canada has nevertheless maintained an independent
foreign policy, most notably maintaining full relations with Cuba and
declining to participate in the Iraq War. Canada also maintains historic ties to
the United Kingdom and France and to other former British and French
colonies through Canada's membership in the British Commonwealth of
Nations and La Francophonie (French-Speaking Countries). Canada is noted
for having a strong and positive relationship with the Netherlands which
Canada helped liberate during World War II, and the Dutch government
traditionally gives tulips, a symbol of the Netherlands, to Canada each year
in remembrance of Canada's contribution to its liberation. Canada joined the
United Nations in 1945 and became a founding member of NATO in 1949.

Canada has played a leading role in UN peacekeeping efforts. During the

Suez Crisis of 1956, Canada eased tensions by proposing the inception of the
United Nations

Page 5.Peacekeeping Force. Canada has since served in 50 peacekeeping

missions, including virtually every UN peacekeeping effort.

Right: Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan

Since 2001, Canada has had troops deployed

in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. stabilization
force and the UN-authorized, NATO-
commanded International Security Assistance

Geography, Climate and Wildlife

Look at the satellite composite

image of Canada (on the left). Boreal
forests prevail on the rocky Canadian
Shield. Ice and tundra are prominent
in the Arctic. Glaciers are visible in
the Canadian Rockies and Coast
Mountains. Flat and fertile prairies
facilitate agriculture. The Great Lakes feed the Saint Lawrence River (in the
southeast) where lowlands host much of Canada's population.

Canada occupies a major northern portion of North America, sharing land

borders with the continental United States to the south and with the U.S.
state of Alaska to the northwest, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the
east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. By
total area (including its waters), Canada is the second largest country in the
world—after Russia—and largest on the continent.

The northernmost settlement in Canada and in the world is Canadian Forces

Station (CFS) Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island—latitude 82.5°N—
just 817 km (450 nautical miles) from the North Pole. Canada has the longest
coastline in the world: 243,000 km.
Right: Rolling hills on Prince Edward Island.

The population density, 3.5 inhabitants per

square kilometer, is among the lowest in the
world. The most densely populated part of
the country is the Quebec City-Windsor
Corridor along the Great Lakes and Saint
Lawrence River in the southeast.

To the north of this region is the broad Canadian Shield, an area of thinly
soiled rock, rich in minerals, and dotted with lakes and rivers. Canada by far
has more lakes than any other country and has a large amount of the world's

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In eastern Canada, most people live in large urban centers on the flat Saint
Lawrence Lowlands. The Saint Lawrence River widens into the world's largest
estuary before flowing into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The gulf is bounded
by Newfoundland to the north and the Maritimes to the south. The Maritimes
protrude eastward along the Appalachian Mountain range from northern New
England and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
are divided by the
Bay of Fundy, which
experiences the
world's largest tidal
variations. Ontario
and Hudson Bay
dominate central
Canada. West of
Ontario, the broad,
flat Canadian
Prairies spread
toward the Rocky
Mountains, which
separate them from
British Columbia.

In northwestern
Canada, the
Mackenzie River
flows from the Great Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean. A tributary of a tributary
of the Mackenzie is the South Nahanni River, which is home to Virginia Falls,
a waterfall about twice as high as Niagara Falls.

Northern Canadian vegetation tapers from coniferous forests to tundra and

finally to Arctic barrens in the far north. The northern Canadian mainland is
ringed with a vast archipelago containing some of the world's largest islands.

Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary

depending on the location. Winters can be harsh in many regions of the
country, particularly in the interior and Prairie Provinces which experience a
continental climate, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C
(“Celsius” or “Centigrade”) but can drop below −40 °C with severe wind
chills. In non-coastal regions, snow can cover the ground almost six months
of the year. Coastal British Columbia is an exception and enjoys a temperate
climate with a mild and rainy winter.

Right: Mount Robson, Canadian Rockies in British


On the east and west coast, average high

temperatures are generally in the low 20s
°C, while between the coasts the average
summer high temperature ranges from 25
to 30 °C with occasional extreme heat in
some interior locations exceeding 40 °C.
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Canada is bountifully rich in wildlife, which

includes the Polar bear, moose, grizzly, caribou,
lynx, wolf, beaver, squirrel and numerous birds.
It is the little beaver to which Canada owes the
most debt. The early fur traders opened new
frontiers in quest for beavers’ skins expanding
the explored territory and accelerating the
country’s progress. The beaver (on the left)
remains the world’s greatest worker for water
and land conservation. Their dams hold back rich soils, preventing them from
being washed away by spring flood water. It is sometimes said that the
beaver “has engineered” Canada. As a gesture of gratitude, the beaver has
been made Canadian National Animal.

The loon can be called a symbolic bird

though. This bird is featured on
Canadian dollar coins giving them their
nickname “looneys”. This unique bird
resembles the duck, but looks much
more gorgeous (see the image on the
right). The loon prefers shallow waters
along the sea shore, where food is
plentiful. In winter most loons migrate
to the Gulf of Mexico, a few try their luck in the waters of the Great Lakes.
Unlike most birds, loons have solid bones, which enable them to dive easily.
They don’t dive like ducks, but silently sink straight down like submarines,
compressing air from their lungs, and disappear without a ring on the water.
Loons are perfect spouses. A male and a female that share the same
territory during the breeding season may separate for the winter but they
virtually always reunite in the spring.

Left: Mighty moose – the king of the forest.

Canada has a history or ecological

awareness and because of the desire
to preserve the beauty that nature
provides. Because of this, Canada
has a large network of parks and
nature reserves. Not only do these
protected areas keep the land
untouched and the animals safe,
they also preserve Canada's heritage
and history, and provide breathtaking sights for tourists, both domestic and
foreign. Some of the most splendid of the protected areas lie in the Canadian
Rocky Mountains. Founded in 1885 and originally named Rocky Mountain
Park, Banff was Canada's first established national park. Today there are
many dozens of natural preserves, national and private ones. They represent
every climatic zone, and protect virtually every species known in Canada.