Canada facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Motto: A mari usque ad mare (Latin)
"From Sea to Sea"
Anthem: "O Canada"
|House of Commons|
from the United Kingdom
|July 1, 1867|
|December 11, 1931|
|April 17, 1982|
• Total area
|9,984,670 km2 (3,855,100 sq mi) (2nd)|
• Water (%)
|11.76 (as of 2015)|
• Total land area
|9,093,507 km2 (3,511,023 sq mi)|
• Q1 2021 estimate
• 2016 census
|3.92/km2 (10.2/sq mi) (185th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2021 estimate|
|$1.979 trillion (15th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2021 estimate|
|$1.883 trillion (9th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2018)||▼ 30.3
|HDI (2019)|| 0.929
very high · 16th
|Currency||Canadian dollar ($) (CAD)|
|Time zone||UTC−3.5 to −8|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC−2.5 to −7|
|Date format||yyyy-mm-dd (AD)|
Canada is a country in North America. It is north of the United States. Its land reaches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Canada's area is 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), so it is the world's second largest country by total area but only the fourth largest country by land area. It has the world's longest coastline which touches three oceans. Canada has ten provinces and three territories. Most parts of the country have a cold or severely cold winter climate, but areas to the south are warm in summer. Much of the land is forests or tundra, with the Rocky Mountains towards the west. About four fifths of Canada's 38 million people live in urban areas near the southern border with the US, the longest between any two countries in the world. The national capital is Ottawa, and the largest city is Toronto. Other large cities include Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hamilton.
Aboriginal people lived in the places that are now Canada for a long time. In 1537 the French started a colony and the British Empire soon followed. The two empires fought several wars and in the late 18th century only British North America remained with what is more or less Canada today. The country was formed with the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, from several colonies. Over time, more provinces and territories became part of Canada. In 1931, Canada achieved near total independence with the Statute of Westminster 1931, and became completely independent when the Canada Act 1982 removed the last remaining ties of legal dependence on the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as its head of state. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level, meaning that citizens have the right to communicate with the government in either English or French. Immigration to Canada has made it one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations. Its economy is the eleventh largest in the world, and relies mainly on natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada's relationship with its neighbor and biggest trading partner, the U.S., has a big impact on its economy and culture.
Canada is a developed country and has the tenth highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the tenth highest ranking in the Human Development Index. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. Canada is a Commonwealth realm member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie, and part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G8, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Indigenous peoples lived in what is now Canada for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. The indigenous groups are called the First Nations, the Inuit, and the Métis. The Métis are people that come from both First Nations and European families. Together, these three groups are called "Indigenous," "Aboriginal," or "First Peoples." They used to be called "Indians" by the Europeans, but this is now considered rude.
When European people first came to Canada to settle, the number of Indigenous people living in Canada already was between 200,000 and two million.
The Vikings were the first Europeans known to land in what is now called Canada, in what is now Newfoundland, led by the Viking explorer Leif Erikson. They did not stay long, however. In the early 16th century, Europeans started exploring Canada's eastern coast, beginning with John Cabot from England in 1497, and later Jacques Cartier in 1534 from France. Alexander Mackenzie later reached the Pacific coast over land, where captains James Cook and George Vancouver went by sea. The Europeans also traded beaver furs to the First Nations.
Parts of Canada were settled by France, and parts by Great Britain. In 1605, Port-Royal was built in Acadia (today called Nova Scotia) by the French, led by Samuel de Champlain, and in 1608 he started settling Quebec. The British took control of the French areas after a battle of the French and Indian War on the Plains of Abraham near Quebec City in 1759.
After the American Revolutionary War, many people in the new United States wanted to stay loyal to Britain. Thousands came north to Canada and settled in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. They were called United Empire Loyalists. During the War of 1812, the United States tried to conquer Canada but were defeated.
Confederation and expansion
On July 1, 1867, Canada was united under a federal government. It included the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Sir John A. Macdonald was the first prime minister. Manitoba, the Yukon territory, and the Northwest Territories became part of Canada in 1870. British Columbia joined in 1871, and Prince Edward Island in 1873.
There were two Red River Rebellions, in 1869-70 and 1885, both led by Louis Riel. He fought for more rights for the Métis people, a mix between French and First Nations. A railroad across the country, the Canadian Pacific Railway, finished in 1885, made it easier for Canadians to move to the west. Many Europeans came to the prairies, so Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905.
Early 20th century
Canadian soldiers fought in World War I for the British Empire. More Canadians died in this war than any other war. Canada became better known as a country after its success in capturing Vimy Ridge from the Germans in France in 1917. Women were given the right to vote by the end of the war, partly because of the help they gave making weapons while the men fought in Europe. In 1931, Canada became fully independent. Then the government of Canada made all decisions about Canada.
Canadians also fought in World War II. The Dieppe Raid in 1942 went very badly and most of the soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Canadians were important in 1944 at Normandy, and they liberated the Netherlands from the Germans.
In 1949, Newfoundland and Labrador became the 10th province of Canada. In 1956, Canadian Lester Pearson, who later became prime minister, helped end the Suez Crisis. As a result, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1965, Pearson helped Canada get a new flag, the Maple Leaf. Before that, Canadians had used the Red Ensign. In 1982, Canada changed its constitution, including a new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The main part of the Constitution is still the 1867 British North America Act.
Some French Canadians today wish to form their own country, separate from the rest of Canada. The province of Quebec held a referendum (vote) in 1980, but only about 40% wanted to separate. Another referendum was held in 1995, with almost 50% voting in favour of leaving Canada. Since then, fewer people in Quebec have wanted to leave Canada, but it is still important to Quebec politics.
Today, about 25% of Canadians speak French as their first language. Many people can speak both French and English. Although most French Canadians live in the province of Quebec, there are French-speaking communities and people all across Canada. For example, 40% of the people in the province of New Brunswick and 20% of those in Manitoba have a strong French background, as do some people in Ontario, mainly along its border with Quebec.
By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area alone, Canada ranks fourth. It has the longest border with water (coastline) of any country in the world. It is next to the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans. It is the only country in the world to be next to three oceans at once. It has six time zones.
Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. The provinces are between the 45th and 60th parallels of latitude, and the territories are to the north of the 60th parallel of latitude. Most large cities in Canada are in the southern part of the country, including Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. There are very few people living in the northern part of Canada.
Canada extends from the west coast, across the prairies and central Canada, to the Atlantic provinces. In the north there are three territories, between Alaska and Greenland: the Yukon in the west, then the Northwest Territories, then Nunavut. Four of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Huron, Erie, and Ontario) are shared between Canada and the United States (Lake Michigan is in the USA), and they make up 16% of the Earth's fresh water. The Saint Lawrence Seaway joins the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing ocean going vessels to travel as far inland as Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada.
Canada shares land and sea borders with the USA (the lower 48 states and Alaska), Denmark (Greenland), and France (St. Pierre and Miquelon — a small group of islands off the southern coast off the island of Newfoundland).
The geography of Canada is very different from place to place, from high alpine areas in the west, flat grasslands and prairies in the centre, and ancient shield rocks in the east. Canada contains some of the very last untouched boreal forest in the world.
The Canadian Shield is a vast area of ancient Pre-Cambrian rocks lying in an arc around Hudson Bay, covering more than one third of Canada's land area. This is a unique land of lakes, bogs, swamps, trees, and rocks. It is a terrain that is very dangerous and difficult to traverse cross country because of lakes, bogs, swamps, trees, and rocks. Canada has 60% of the world's lakes.
Climate and its influence
Many people from other parts of the world think of Canada as a very cold and snowy place. While it is true that much of Canada is very far north, most Canadians live in the southern parts, where the weather is much milder. Nearly two thirds of Canadians live less than 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the U.S. border. In some cities the temperature can get very cold in the winter, especially in the inland. Warm air systems moving in from the Pacific Ocean bring more rain than snow to the Pacific coast, while colder temperatures further inland do result in snow. Most of Canada can get quite hot in the summer, often over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Canada is divided into fifteen terrestrial and five marine ecozones. These ecozones encompass over 80,000 classified species of Canadian wildlife, with an equal number yet to be formally recognized or discovered. Due to human activities, invasive species and environmental issues in the country, there are currently more than 800 species at risk of being lost. Over half of Canada's landscape is intact and relatively free of human development. The boreal forest of Canada is considered to be the largest intact forest on Earth, with approximately 3,000,000 km2 (1,200,000 sq mi) undisturbed by roads, cities or industry. Since the end of the last glacial period, Canada has consisted of eight distinct forest regions, with 42 percent of its land area covered by forests (approximately 8 percent of the world's forested land).
Approximately 12.1 percent of the nation's landmass and freshwater are conservation areas, including 11.4 percent designated as protected areas. Approximately 13.8 percent of its territorial waters are conserved, including 8.9 percent designated as protected areas. Canada's first National Park, Banff National Park established in 1885, spans 6,641 square kilometres (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with many glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. Canada's oldest provincial park, Algonquin Provincial Park established in 1893, covers an area of 7,653.45 square kilometres (2,955.01 sq mi) is dominated by old-growth forest with over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers. Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is the world's largest freshwater protected area spanning roughly 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) of lakebed, its overlaying freshwater, and associated shoreline on 60 square kilometres (23 sq mi) of islands and mainland's. Canada's largest national wildlife region is the Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area, which spans 11,570.65 square kilometres (4,467.45 sq mi), protects critical breeding and nesting habitat for over 40 percent of British Columbia's seabirds. Canada's 18 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves cover a total area of 235,000 square kilometres (91,000 sq mi).
Canada has a government called a constitutional monarchy. It has a monarch (meaning a king or queen is the head of that country), and is a democracy (meaning the people of that country rule it). The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is officially the Queen of Canada. She appoints a Governor General to represent her in the country, however, the choice of Governor General is made by the prime minister.
The Queen's powers are mostly exercised by the Governor General, currently Julie Payette. The Governor General, like the Canadian sovereign (King/Queen of Canada), is not political and remains above politics, and because of that they do not usually use their powers without the advice of the Prime Minister or other ministers.
The head of government is the Prime Minister. The current prime minister is Justin Trudeau, who replaced Stephen Harper in October 2015. Each province and territory has a premier to lead its government. The day-to-day operations of the government are run by the cabinet. The cabinet is usually formed from the largest party in Parliament.
The Parliament of Canada passes the laws of the country. The governor general, acting on behalf of the monarch, has the right to veto a law (meaning the law cannot go into effect) but this right has not been used for some time. There are five main parties in the Canadian Parliament: the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party. In addition to the five parties with MPs in Parliament, there are fourteen other smaller parties registered with Elections Canada and several MPs who sit as Independents.
Provinces and territories
Below is a list of provinces and territories. They are listed by population.
|New Brunswick||Fredericton||Saint John||1867||753,900||72,908||English and French|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||St. John's||St. John's||1949||527,000||405,212||English|
|Prince Edward Island||Charlottetown||Charlottetown||1873||146,300||5,660||English|
|Yukon||Whitehorse||Whitehorse||1898||33,897||482,443||English and French|
Since the early 20th century, the growth of Canada's manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy to an urbanized, industrial one. However, Canada is unusual among developed countries in the importance of its primary sector, in which the forestry and petroleum industries are two of the most prominent components.
Canada is one of the few developed nations that are net exporters of energy. Atlantic Canada possesses vast offshore deposits of natural gas, and Alberta also hosts large oil and gas resources. The vastness of the Athabasca oil sands and other assets results in Canada having a 13 percent share of global oil reserves, comprising the world's third-largest share after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
Canada is additionally one of the world's largest suppliers of agricultural products; the Canadian Prairies are one of the most important global producers of wheat, canola, and other grains. The federal Department of Natural Resources provides statistics regarding its major exports; the country is a leading exporter of zinc, uranium, gold, nickel, platinoids, aluminum, steel, iron ore, coking coal, lead, copper, molybdenum, cobalt, and cadmium. Many towns in northern Canada, where agriculture is difficult, are sustainable because of nearby mines or sources of timber. Canada also has a sizeable manufacturing sector centred in southern Ontario and Quebec, with automobiles and aeronautics representing particularly important industries.
Science and technology
Some of the most notable scientific developments in Canada include the creation of the modern alkaline battery and the polio vaccine and discoveries about the interior structure of the atomic nucleus. Other major Canadian scientific contributions include the artificial cardiac pacemaker, mapping the visual cortex, the development of the electron microscope, plate tectonics, deep learning, multi-touch technology and the identification of the first black hole, Cygnus X-1. Canada has a long history of discovery in genetics, which include stem cells, site-directed mutagenesis, T-cell receptor and the identification of the genes that cause Fanconi anemia, cystic fibrosis and early-onset Alzheimer's disease, among numerous other diseases.
The Canadian Space Agency operates a highly active space program, conducting deep-space, planetary, and aviation research, and developing rockets and satellites. Canada was the third country to design and construct a satellite after the Soviet Union and the United States, with the 1962 Alouette 1 launch. Canada is a participant in the International Space Station (ISS), and is a pioneer in space robotics, having constructed the Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre robotic manipulators for the ISS and NASA's Space Shuttle. Since the 1960s, Canada's aerospace industry has designed and built numerous marques of satellite, including Radarsat-1 and 2, ISIS and MOST. Canada has also produced one of the world's most successful and widely used sounding rockets, the Black Brant; over 1,000 Black Brants have been launched since the rocket's introduction in 1961.
Around 35 million people live in Canada. This is almost the same number as in the U.S. state of California. About 80% of the Canadian population live in the southern parts of Canada since the climates are milder than the northern parts of Canada.
According to the 2016 Canadian Census, the country's largest self-reported ethnic origin is Canadian (accounting for 32 percent of the population), followed by English (18.3 percent), Scottish (13.9 percent), French (13.6 percent), Irish (13.4 percent), German (9.6 percent), Chinese (5.1 percent), Italian (4.6 percent), First Nations (4.4 percent), Indian (4.0 percent), and Ukrainian (3.9 percent). There are 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands, encompassing a total of 1,525,565 people. The Indigenous population in Canada is growing at almost twice the national rate, and four percent of Canada's population claimed an Indigenous identity in 2006. Another 22.3 percent of the population belonged to a non-Indigenous visible minority. In 2016, the largest visible minority groups were South Asian (5.6 percent), Chinese (5.1 percent) and Black (3.5 percent). Between 2011 and 2016, the visible minority population rose by 18.4 percent. In 1961, less than two percent of Canada's population (about 300,000 people) were members of visible minority groups. Indigenous peoples are not considered a visible minority in Statistics Canada calculations.
A multitude of languages are used by Canadians, with English and French (the official languages) being the mother tongues of approximately 56 percent and 21 percent of Canadians, respectively. As of the 2016 Census, just over 7.3 million Canadians listed a non-official language as their mother tongue. Some of the most common non-official first languages include Chinese (1,227,680 first-language speakers), Punjabi (501,680), Spanish (458,850), Tagalog (431,385), Arabic (419,895), German (384,040), and Italian (375,645). Canada's federal government practises official bilingualism, which is applied by the commissioner of official languages in consonance with section 16 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the federal Official Languages Act. English and French have equal status in federal courts, Parliament, and in all federal institutions. Citizens have the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French and official-language minorities are guaranteed their own schools in all provinces and territories.
The 1977 Charter of the French Language established French as the official language of Quebec. Although more than 85 percent of French-speaking Canadians live in Quebec, there are substantial Francophone populations in New Brunswick, Alberta, and Manitoba; Ontario has the largest French-speaking population outside Quebec. New Brunswick, the only officially bilingual province, has a French-speaking Acadian minority constituting 33 percent of the population. There are also clusters of Acadians in southwestern Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, and through central and western Prince Edward Island.
Other provinces have no official languages as such, but French is used as a language of instruction, in courts, and for other government services, in addition to English. Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec allow for both English and French to be spoken in the provincial legislatures, and laws are enacted in both languages. In Ontario, French has some legal status, but is not fully co-official. There are 11 Indigenous language groups, composed of more than 65 distinct languages and dialects. Several Indigenous languages have official status in the Northwest Territories. Inuktitut is the majority language in Nunavut, and is one of three official languages in the territory.
The roots of organized sports in Canada date back to the 1770s, culminating in the development and popularization of the major professional games of ice hockey, lacrosse, basketball, baseball and football. Canada's official national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse. Golf, soccer, baseball, tennis, skiing, badminton, volleyball, cycling, swimming, bowling, rugby union, canoeing, equestrian, squash and the study of martial arts are widely enjoyed at the youth and amateur levels.
Canada shares several major professional sports leagues with the United States. Canadian teams in these leagues include seven franchises in the National Hockey League, as well as three Major League Soccer teams and one team in each of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. Other popular professional sports in Canada include Canadian football, which is played in the Canadian Football League, National Lacrosse League lacrosse, and curling.
Canada has participated in almost every Olympic Games since its Olympic debut in 1900, and has hosted several high-profile international sporting events, including the 1976 Summer Olympics, the 1988 Winter Olympics, the 1994 Basketball World Championship, the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Most recently, Canada hosted the 2015 Pan American Games and 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto, the former being one of the largest sporting event hosted by the country. The country is also scheduled to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, alongside Mexico and the United States.
Images for kids
Map of territorial claims in North America by 1750, before the French and Indian War, which was part of the greater worldwide conflict known as the Seven Years' War (1756 to 1763). Possessions of Britain (pink), New France (blue), and Spain (orange, California, Pacific Northwest, and Great Basin not indicated)
The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, west of Parliament Hill
Monument to Multiculturalism, by Francesco Pirelli in Toronto.
Canada Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.