Overview of Canada

Canada is the second largest country in the world by area, and is located at the northernmost tip of North America. Canada is officially bilingual (English and French) at the federal level. Due to its large-scale reception of immigrants from many countries, Canada is one of the most ethnically diverse and culturally pluralistic countries in the world, with a population of approximately 35 million as of December 2012.

  • Country name: Canada
  • Capital: Ottawa
  • Area: 9,984,670 km2
  • Population: 35,344,962 people (2014)
  • Currency: Canadian Dollars (CAD)
  • Time zone: Winter: UTC -3.5 to -8; Summer: UTC -2.5 to -7
  • Languages: English and French

Economy, Geography & Climate

Canada occupies much of the northern part of North America, having land borders with the United States to the south and the U.S. state of Alaska to the northwest. Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and the Arctic Ocean in the north. Greenland belongs to the Kingdom of Denmark to the northeast, Saint Pierre and Miquelon of France are to the south of the Canadian island of Newfoundland. By total area, Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia.

Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary from region to region. Winters can be harsh in many parts of the country, particularly in the interior and Prairie provinces, which experience a continental climate, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C (5 °F), but can drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) with severe wind chills. In non-coastal regions, snow can cover the ground for almost six months of the year, while in parts of the north snow can persist year-round. Coastal British Columbia has a temperate climate, with a mild and rainy winter. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C (70s °F), while between the coasts, the average summer high temperature ranges from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F), with temperatures in some interior locations occasionally exceeding 40 °C (104 °F).

As a developed country and among the world’s richest nations, Canada has the 8th highest nominal per-capita income globally and the eleventh-highest ranking in the Human Development Index. Canada is ranked as the top in global comparison on education, the government’s transparency, civil liberities, living quality, and economic freedom.

Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental economic institutions such as: G8, G20, North American Free Trade Agreements, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Canada is a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Provinces and territory

Canada is a federation composed of ten provinces and three territories. In turn, these may be grouped into four main regions: Western Canada, Central Canada, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada (“Eastern Canada” refers to Central Canada and Atlantic Canada together). Provinces and territories have responsibility for social programs such as health care, education, and welfare, as well as administration of justice. Together, the provinces collect more revenue than the federal government. Using its spending powers, the federal government can initiate national policies in provincial areas, such as the Canada Health Act; the provinces can opt out of these, but rarely do so in practice. Equalization payments are made by the federal government to ensure reasonably uniform standards of services and taxation are kept between the richer and poorer provinces.


Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for education provision. The mandatory education age ranges between 5–7 to 16–18 years, contributing to an adult literacy rate of 99 percent. Just over 60,000 children are homeschooled as of 2016. In 2002, 43 percent of Canadians aged 25 to 64 possessed a post-secondary education; for those aged 25 to 34, the rate of post-secondary education reached 51 percent. According to a report by NBC in 2012, Canada is the most well-educated country in the world. The Programme for International Student Assessment indicates Canadian students perform well above the OECD average, particularly in mathematics, science, and reading.


Canada’s culture draws influences from its broad range of constituent nationalities, and policies that promote a “just society” are constitutionally protected. In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and there is a French Canadian culture that is distinct from English Canadian culture.

Historically, Canada has been influenced by British, French, and Indigenous cultures and traditions.

The roots of organized sports in Canada date back to the 1770s. Canada’s official national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse. The NHL includes seven teams in Canada: the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and the Winnipeg Jets.

Modern symbols emphasize the country’s geography, cold climate, lifestyles and the Canadianization of traditional European and Indigenous symbols. The use of the maple leaf as a Canadian symbol dates to the early 18th century. The maple leaf is depicted on Canada’s current and previous flags, coins and on the Arms of Canada. Other prominent symbols include Canada goose, common loon, Canadian horse, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Rockies, and more recently the totem pole and Inuksuk.