Canada is a developed country in North America. The second largest country in the world by area, Canada is home to just over 36 million people and has the tenth largest economy in the world.
Head of State
Queen Elizabeth II
Area (sq m)
GDP (per capita)
Canada has a free market economy. Although it is a major exporter of energy and raw materials, it’s economy is diverse, with strong manufacturing and service sectors.
According to the IMF, Canada’s nominal GDP is $1.462 trillion. This makes Canada’s overall economy the 10th largest in the world. GDP per capita is $40,409, ranking Canada 15th in the world.
After several steady years, Canada’s growth rate has dipped to 1.2% in 2015. The Government anticipates a return in 2016 to growth rates of around 2%.
Main areas of economy
The largest sectors in the Canadian economy are Real estate, manufacturing, and mining (including oil and gas).
The Canadian dollar (CAD) is the currency of Canada. Each Canadian dollar is made up of 100 cents.
Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy, with two autonomous levels of government - the federal government (national), and the provincial government (provinces and territories).
Canada is also a constitutional monarchy, and its head of state is Queen Elizabeth II.
The federal government is based in Ottawa. Its parliament comprises the Monarch (or her representative, the Governor General), the House of Commons and the Senate. Members of the House of Commons (MPs) are directly elected, and the leader of the largest party traditionally becomes Prime Minster. Senators are appointed by the Governor General, based on recommendations from the Prime Minister.
Each province and territory in Canada also has its own provincial government with its own legislative assembly. They have wide ranging autonomy, and the right to levy taxes. They are responsible for local issues, such as health and education.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in Canada. A federal court sits below this to deal with federal matters. Additionally, each province has its own provincial court.
Canadian cities and provinces
Ottawa - Capital city of Canada
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. Situated in Ontario, on the border between Ontario and Quebec, it has a population of 883,391 (2011 census). The wider National Capital Region, which includes the Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan area, has a population of 1,236,324 in 2011.
Ottawa became Canada’s capital in 1857. It was chosen because it was far enough from the American border to allow it to be defended in the event of an American attack, and because it was roughly mid-way between Toronto and Quebec, Canada’s two competing centres of power.
Largest Canadian cities
The most populous city in Canada is Toronto, in Ontario. At the time of the 2011 census, the Toronto metropolitan area had a population of 2,615,060.
The wider Toronto urban area, which includes Mississauga (itself the sixth largest city in Canada) is home to 5,583,064 people.
There are two other cities in Canada with a population of over one million. They are Montreal, in Quebec (1,649,519) and Calgary, Alberta (1,096,833).
Here is a list of the eleven Canadian cities with a population of more than 500,000.
Largest Canadian provinces
Canada does not have states - it has a number of Provinces and Territories.
The most populous Canadian state is Ontario (12,851,821). The least populous state is Prince Edward Island (140,204).
The most populous Canadian territory is the Northwest Territories, with a population of just 41,462 in 2011. The least populous territory is Nunavut, home to just 31,906 people.
Here is a table listing each province and territory, along with its population in 2011.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island
The Maple Leaf - national flag
The Canadian flag has a red background, with a white square in the centre. In the centre of the white square is a red maple leaf. Because of this, the Canadian flag is affectionately known as the Maple Leaf flag.
The Maple Leaf was adopted as Canada’s national flag on February 15, 1965. Before that date, Canada did not have an official, legally recognised, state flag. Until 1965, the de facto national flag was the Canadian Red Ensign, which contained both a Union Jack and the Canadian Coat of Arms on a red background.
The current Canadian flag was chosen after an acrimonious debate in the 1960s, known as the Great Canadian Flag Debate. Public opinion was divided over whether or not the new Canadian flag should retain the Union Jack in some form.
O Canada - national anthem
The national anthem of Canada is called ‘O Canada’. There are two different versions - one with lyrics in French and one with lyrics in English.
O Canada has been Canada’s anthem since 1 July 1980, but has been used unofficially since at least 1939.
The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée, and the lyrics were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier in 1880. They were translated into English by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. A number of slight revisions to the lyrics have been made over the years.
The Canadian Armed Forces has three main branches - the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Royal Canadian Navy.
In 2011, the Canadian armed forces had 68, 250 active personnel, making it the 56th largest armed forces in the world in terms of manpower.
Canada has the 16th largest defence budget in the world. In 2015, Canada’s defence budget was $18.6 billion Canadian (that’s $14.5 billion US), approximately 1.2% of Canada’s GDP.
Canada is not a nuclear power.
History of Canada
The first humans to arrive in Canada came from Siberia, via the Bering land bridge, at least 15,000 years ago. They developed a range of societies and cultures, ranging from nomadic hunter-gatherers to complex and static crop raising societies. By the time the first Europeans arrived, there were thought to be around 500,000 aboriginal people living in what is today Canada.
The first European visitors to North America were Norsemen (Vikings). At around 1,000AD, they attempted and failed to build a settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland.
Canada was later re-discovered by John Cabot in 1497, and claimed by England. The first English colony in Canada was St John’s, in Newfoundland, which was founded in 1583.
French settlers also claimed territory in North America. The first French colony in the Canadian territory of New France was Port Royal, in Nova Scotia, founded in 1605. France ceded its Canadian territories to Great Britain in 1753 as a part of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years War.
An American attempt to invade and conquer Canada, known as the War of 1812, was defeated. Although most of the fighting took place in Canada, British forces raided major cities on the American coast. The most famous raid took place on 24 August 1814, when British troops raided Washington and set fire to the White House.
Canada’s economy and society developed in the 19th century, calls for increased self-government became common. Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick came together in a confederation 1867, forming the Dominion of Canada. Elections were held later that year to select members of the Dominion of Canada’s first parliament. The formation of the Dominion of Canada is still celebrated today as Canada Day, on the 1st July each year.
Unlike many countries, Canada did not gain its independence from Britain at a defined time. The formation of the Dominion of Canada was the first step in a gradual process through which Canada gained more and more autonomy and control over its own affairs. The Statute of Westminster, which was passed by the British Parliament in 1931 applied to all of the Dominions of the British Empire such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It gave Canada effective independence but it was not until the Canada Act of 1982 that all formal legal links between Canada and Britain were severed.
Canada’s focus during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was on internal development and expansion. The Canadian Pacific Railway, which was completed in 1899, linked Canada’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts for the first time. It was seen a major symbol of the building of the new nation of Canada.
Through the first half of the 20th century, Canada continued to play a major role in the British Empire. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians fought in the Boer War (1899-1902), the First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945), and the Royal Canadian Navy played a major role in protecting convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.
In the second half of the 20th century, Canada once again focused on growth and development. Between 1951 and 2001 the population of Canada more than doubled, from 14 million to 31 million. Canada’s economy also grew rapidly and, today, Canada is one of the world’s ten largest economies.
The status of Quebec as a part of Canada remains a difficult and divisive topic. The province has a powerful and long standing secessionist movement, which believes the Quebec should be independent of Canada. Referendums held in 1980 and 1995 were both lost, although the 1995 referendum was only lost by 59.6% to 49.4%.