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Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territoriesextend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world's second-largest country by total area and the fourth-largest country by land area. Canada'sborder with the United States is the world's longest land border. Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land territory being dominated by forest and tundra and the Rocky Mountains; about four-fifths of the country's population of 35 million people live near the southern border. The majority of Canada has a cold or severely cold winter climate, but southerly areas are warm in summer.
The land now called Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the 15th century, Britishand French colonies were established on the Atlantic coast, with the first establishment of a region called "Canada" occurring in 1537. As a consequence of various conflicts, the United Kingdom gained and lost territories within British North America until left, in the late 18th century, with what mostly geographically comprises Canada today. Pursuant to the British North America Act, on July 1, 1867, the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia joined to form the autonomous federal Dominion of Canada. This began an accretion of provinces and territories to the self-governing Dominion to the present ten provinces and three territories forming modern Canada. In 1931, Canada achieved near total independence from the United Kingdom with the Statute of Westminster 1931, and full sovereignty was attained when the Canada Act 1982 removed the last remaining ties of legal dependence on the British parliament.
Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being the head of state. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. Its advanced economy is the eleventh largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
Canada is a developed country and has the tenth highest nominal per capita income globally, and the ninth highest ranking in theHuman 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 theUnited Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G8, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
While a variety of theories have been postulated for the etymological origins of Canada, the name is now accepted as coming from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement". In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-dayQuebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier to the village of Stadacona. Cartier later used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village, but the entire area subject to Donnacona (the chief at Stadacona); by 1545, European books and maps had begun referring to this small region along the St Lawrence River as Canada.
From the 16th to the early 18th century "Canada" referred to the part of New France that lay along the St. Lawrence River. In 1791, the area became two British colonies called Upper Canada and Lower Canada collectively named The Canadas; until their union as the British Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country, and the word Dominion was conferred as the country's title. The transition away from the use of Dominion was formally reflected in 1982 with the passage of the Canada Act, which refers only to Canada. Later that year, the national holiday was renamed from Dominion Day to Canada Day. The term Dominion is also used to distinguish the federal government from the provinces, though after the Second World War the term federal had replaced dominion.
Geography and climate
Canada occupies much of the continent of North America, sharing land borders with the contiguous United States to the south, and the US state of Alaska to the northwest. Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. Greenland is to the northeast. By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area alone, however, Canada ranks fourth, the difference being due to it having the worlds largest proportion of fresh water lakes.
Government and politics
Canada has a parliamentary system within the context of a constitutional monarchy, the monarchy of Canada being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, who is also monarch of 15 other Commonwealth countries and each of Canada's 10 provinces. As such, the Queen's representative, the Governor General of Canada (at present David Johnston), carries out most of the federal royal duties in Canada.
The direct participation of the royal and viceroyal figures in areas of governance is limited. In practice, their use of the executive powers is directed by the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the elected House of Commons and chosen and headed by the Prime Minister of Canada (at present Justin Trudeau), the head of government. The governor general or monarch may, though, in certain crisis situations exercise their power without ministerial advice. To ensure the stability of government, the governor general will usually appoint as prime minister the person who is the current leader of the political party that can obtain the confidence of a plurality in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is thus one of the most powerful institutions in government, initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting for appointment by the Crown, besides the aforementioned, the governor general, lieutenant governors, senators, federal court judges, and heads of Crown corporations and government agencies. The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check.
The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of the country, and consists of written text and unwritten conventions. The Constitution Act, 1867 (known as the British North America Act prior to 1982), affirmed governance based on parliamentary precedent and divided powers between the federal and provincial governments. The Statute of Westminster 1931 granted full autonomy and the Constitution Act, 1982, ended all legislative ties to the UK, as well as adding a constitutional amending formula and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter guarantees basic rights and freedoms that usually cannot be over-ridden by any government—though a notwithstanding clauseallows the federal parliament and provincial legislatures to override certain sections of the Charter for a period of five years.
Canada is the world's eleventh-largest economy as of 2015, with a nominal GDP of approximately US$1.79 trillion. It is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Group of Eight (G8), and is one of the world's top ten trading nations, with a highly globalized economy.Canada is a mixed economy, ranking above the US and most western European nations on the Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedom, and experiencing a relatively low level of income disparity.The country's average household disposable income per capita is over US$23,900, higher than the OECD average. Furthermore, the Toronto Stock Exchange is the seventh largest stock exchange in the world bymarket capitalization, listing over 1,500 companies with a combined market capitalization of over US$2 trillion as of 2015.
Science and technology
In 2012, Canada spent approximately C$31.3 billion on domestic research and development, of which around $7 billion was provided by the federal and provincial governments. As of 2015, the country has produced thirteen Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry, andmedicine, and was ranked fourth worldwide for scientific research quality in a major 2012 survey of international scientists. It is furthermore home to the headquarters of a number of global technology firms. Canada has one of the highest levels of Internet access in the world, with over 33 million users, equivalent to around 94 percent of its total 2014 population.
The 2011 Canadian census counted a total population of 33,476,688, an increase of around 5.9 percent over the 2006 figure. By December 2012, Statistics Canada reported a population of over 35 million, signifying the fastest growth rate of any G8 nation. Between 1990 and 2008, the population increased by 5.6 million, equivalent to 20.4 percent overall growth. The main drivers of population growth are immigration and, to a lesser extent, natural growth. Canada has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world, driven mainly by economic policy and, to a lesser extent family reunification. The Canadian public as-well as the major political parties support the current level of immigration. In 2010, a record 280,636 people immigrated to Canada. The Canadian government anticipated between 280,000 and 305,000 new permanent residents in 2016, a similar number of immigrants as in recent years. New immigrants settle mostly in major urban areas like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Canada also accepts large numbers of refugees, accounting for over 10 percent of annual global refugee resettlements.
Canada is religiously diverse, encompassing a wide range of beliefs and customs. Canada has no official church, and the government is officially committed to religious pluralism. Freedom of religion in Canada is a constitutionally protected right, allowing individuals to assemble and worship without limitation or interference. The practice of religion is now generally considered a private matter throughout society and the state. With Christianity in decline after having once been central and integral to Canadian culture and daily life,Canada has become a post-Christian, secular state. The majority of Canadians consider religion to be unimportant in their daily lives, but still believe in God.[ According to the 2011 census, 67.3% of Canadians identify as Christian; of these, Roman Catholics make up the largest group, accounting for 38.7% of the population. The largest Protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada(accounting for 6.1% of Canadians), followed by Anglicans (5.0%), and Baptists (1.9%). Secularization has been growing since the 1960s. In 2011, 23.9% declared no religious affiliation, compared to 16.5% in 2001. The remaining 8.8% are affiliated with non-Christian religions, the largest of which are Islam (3.2%) and Hinduism (1.5%).
Main article: Languages of Canada
A multitude of languages are used by Canadians, with English and French (the official languages) being the mother tongues of approximately 60% and 20% of Canadians respectively. Nearly 6.8 million Canadians listed a non-official language as their mother tongue. Some of the most common non-official first languages include Chinese (mainly Cantonese; 1,072,555 first-language speakers), Punjabi (430,705), Spanish (410,670), German (409,200), and Italian (407,490). Canada's federal government practicesofficial 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.
Canada's culture draws influences from its broad range of constituent nationalities, and policies that promote a "just society" are constitutionally protected. Canada has placed emphasis on equality and inclusiveness for all its people. Multiculturalism is often cited as one of Canada's significant accomplishments, and a key distinguishing element of Canadian identity. In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and many commentators speak of a culture of Quebec that is distinct from English Canadian culture.However, as a whole, Canada is in theory a cultural mosaic—a collection of several regional, aboriginal, and ethnic subcultures.
Canada's approach to governance emphasizing multiculturalism, which is based on selective immigration, social integration, andsuppression of far right politics, has wide public support. Government policies such as publicly funded health care, higher taxation toredistribute wealth, the outlawing of capital punishment, strong efforts to eliminate poverty, strict gun control, and the legalization of same-sex marriage are further social indicators of Canada's political and cultural values. Canadians also identify with the countries institutions of health care, peacekeeping, the National park system and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Canadian literature is often divided into French- and English-language literatures, which are rooted in the literary traditions of France and Britain, respectively.[There are four major themes that can be found within historical Canadian literature; nature, frontier life, Canada's position within the world, all three of which tie into the garrison mentality. By the 1990s, Canadian literature was viewed as some of the world's best. Canada's ethnic and cultural diversity are reflected in its literature, with many of its most prominent modern writers focusing on ethnic life. Arguably, the best-known living Canadian writer internationally (especially since the deaths of Robertson Davies and Mordecai Richler) is Margaret Atwood, a prolific novelist, poet, and literary critic. Numerous other Canadian authors have accumulated international literary awards; including Nobel Laureate Alice Munro, who has been called the best living writer of short stories in English; and Booker Prize recipient Michael Ondaatje, who is perhaps best known for the novel The English Patient, which was adapted as a film of the same name that won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Canadian visual art has been dominated by figures such as Tom Thomson – the country's most famous painter – and by the Group of Seven. Thomson's career painting Canadian landscapes spanned a decade up to his death in 1917 at age 39. The Group were painters with a nationalistic and idealistic focus, who first exhibited their distinctive works in May 1920. Though referred to as having seven members, five artists—Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick Varley—were responsible for articulating the Group's ideas. They were joined briefly by Frank Johnston, and by commercial artist Franklin Carmichael. A. J. Cassonbecame part of the Group in 1926. Associated with the Group was another prominent Canadian artist, Emily Carr, known for her landscapes and portrayals of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Since the 1950s, works of Inuit art have been given as gifts to foreign dignitaries by the Canadian government.
The Canadian music industry is the sixth largest in the world producing internationally renowned composers, musicians and ensembles.Music broadcasting in the country is regulated by the CRTC. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presents Canada's music industry awards, the Juno Awards, which were first awarded in 1970. The Canadian Music Hall of Fame established in 1976 honours Canadian musicians for their lifetime achievements. Patriotic music in Canada dates back over 200 years as a distinct category from British patriotism, preceding the first legal steps to independence by over 50 years. The earliest, The Bold Canadian, was written in 1812. The national anthem of Canada, "O Canada", was originally commissioned by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, the Honourable Théodore Robitaille, for the 1880 St. Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony, and was officially adopted in 1980. Calixa Lavallée wrote the music, which was a setting of a patriotic poem composed by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The text was originally only in French, before it was translated to English in 1906.
The roots of organized sports in Canada date back to the 1770s. Canada's official national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse.Seven of Canada's eight largest metropolitan areas – Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg – have franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL) while Quebec City had the Quebec Nordiques until they relocated to Colorado in 1995. Canada does have one Major League Baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays, one professional basketball team, the Toronto Raptors, threeMajor League Soccer teams and four National Lacrosse League teams. 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 in Montreal, the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, the 1994 Basketball World Championship, the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia and the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Other popular spectator sports in Canada include curling and Canadian football; the latter is played professionally in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Golf, tennis,baseball, skiing, cricket, volleyball, rugby union, Australian Rules Football, soccer and basketball are widely played at youth and amateur levels, but professional leagues and franchises are not widespread.