Friday, July 11, 2008


Canada is the second largest nation in the world, geographically. It's surprising, therefore, how little we in the United States seem to know about our neighbors to the north. We share with them the longest common border in the world of 8,891 Km (5,522 miles). They are also our largest trading partner, importing $230 billion of our merchandise each year.

Total Area: 3,851,794 sq. mil. (slightly larger than the United States including Alaska)
Population: 32,805,041
Languages: 59.3% English, 23.2% French
Capital: Ottawa
Prime Minister: Stephen Harper (since 2006)

The first humans came to Canada at the end of the last Ice Age, crossing a frozen land-bridge through what is now the Bering Strait. Gradually they spread over the continent, eventually reaching South America. They hunted, fished, and in warmer areas also farmed. Society was organized in small bands, and there were no cities.

Vikings were the first Europeans to live in Canada, discovering Newfoundland about AD 1000, but their settlements didn't last long. The French had more success. In the 1530s, explorer Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River, claiming the territory for France.

As the colony developed, it was caught up in the rivalries between England and France, which were locked in a struggle for worldwide imperial conquest. After disastrous losses during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763, called the French-Indian War in North America), French authority in the region waned and its Canadian provinces were captured by Great Britain.

After the successful rebellion of the 13 colonies, Canada sheltered thousands of Loyalist refugees, and remained subject to the British. In the War of 1812, most Canadians were convinced that the Americans were the aggressors, and their troops marched under the British flag.

During the American Civil War, Canadian colonists feared that a victorious North, angered by Britain's sympathy toward the South, might invade the British colonies. Out of these concerns came a movement for the unification of the British colonies of North America. The result was the Dominion of Canada, independent but minimally subject to the British Crown, declared on July 1, 1867.

Most of its territory is very sparsely settled, the vast majority of its people live in a narrow band along the border with the US. Language has continued to divide Canadians, both politically and ideologically. An aggressive movement for Quebecois nationalism has been causing unrest since the 1960s.
In spite of the problems that divide them, Canadians have created a uniquely cosmopolitan culture in North America. Its large cities are among the most beautiful in the world, and many consider Toronto (pictured) as inspiring as Paris.

Although unemployment has recently reached a distressing 6.2%, Canada ranks among the healthiest nations of the world, and the happiest. Notable Canadians include Keanu Reeves, Alanis Morisette, and the members of Sum41. 

For my previous posts on Nations of the World, click here.

1 comment:

lafontaineandre said...

Toronto (pictured) as inspiring as Paris.

Quebec City is 400 years old and has most of the old architecture from the first settler. It has the feel of an Old Europen City..

Toronto is the modern Capital of Canada but represent most of the english Canada..i will say that Montreal looks, feels more. Europeen than Toronto.

my 2 cents..
take care!
i love your blog.