Canada has long been one of the most underrated countries in terms of economic growth, cultural richness and natural bounty. The country, however, is lately getting its due. Located in northern America, it shares a land boundary with the USA which is also the longest bi-national land border in the world. There have been a lot of theories that have been put forward to understand where the name Canada came from. It is widely accepted now that the name come from St. Lawrence Iroquoian who used the word ‘kanata’ to direct the explorer Jacques Cartier towards a village named Stadacona. The word meant village or settlement and slowly began to take root as the name of the whole region.
The indigenous people of the region had fairly good relations with the first European-Canadian settlers and help direct them along the fur-trade route. The first known settlement of Canada by Europeans was when Norsemen briefly settled on what is modern day Newfoundland around 1000 AD. The next wave of settlement in the region did not happen until 1497. Over the years many people settled into the region, and along with the aboriginal people native to the region, created a culture that was uniquely their own. The country was colonized by the French and the British and has evolved into a delightful mix of both the cultures.
The country is essentially bilingual, with English and French both being widely spoken in the country. The capital city of Canada is Ottawa and the nation is divided into ten provinces and three territories. It is the second-largest country in the world in terms of its land area and is highly urbanized. With the tenth largest economy in the world and a generosity of spirit that accepts all immigrants, Canada has achieved a position of strength in the modern world. The country is a parliamentary democracy and achieved independence from its British masters in 1931. Its proximity to the United States and its long-standing relationship with the superpower has also had a massive influence on the culture and economy of the nation.
It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, especially when one considers the sheer size of the nation. The country has a largely varying topography and climate depending upon region to region, and has some stunning natural beauty. Forests still cover a large part of the country, while a tundra-like climate occupies a substantial amount of the northern regions. The country’s sublime geography is topped by over 2 million lakes, out of which over 550 are larger than 100 square kilometers.
The country ranks highly in terms of its human development index and has consistently ranked among the top ten in the world. The country is a member of the British Commonwealth and the queen continue to be the monarch of the region. The queen’s representative for the government is the governor general of the country. Canada has widely been recognized as a country keen to pursue multilateral peacekeeping solutions in times of crisis and its work with organizations like WTO and UN has been widely appreciated.
As one of the few developed nations that are a net exporter of energy, Canada stands unique. With the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world, the country’s economic policy has highly immigrant driven. The nation has a history of welcoming immigrants from around the world and possesses a highly inclusive cultural landscape. It is also one of the most educated countries in the world. All of this adds to Canada’s allure as one of the foremost destinations for immigrants and businesses in the world.
Canada occupies a substantial swathe of the Northern American continent. The country stretches from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific. While Canada is considered to be the second largest country in the world, if one considers simply the land area of the country it ranks as fourth, simply because of the large number of fresh water lakes in the country. Canada also houses the highest human settlement in the world, the Canadian Forces Station Alert at the northern tip of the Ellesmere Island. The country covers almost 10 million square kilometers.
Despite its proximity to the tundra territories, the country, because of its sheer size, experiences a wide range of climates. The province of British Columbia on the eastern region of the country experiences a largely temperate climate. Extreme north of the country usually has snow through the year and has a polar climate. The landlocked areas of the country tend to have a warm summer continental climate. Some regions, like Southwestern Ontario, experience a hot summer and humid climate. Some parts of western Canada also possess a semi-arid climate while some parts of Vancouver Island can even be classified as having a cool Mediterranean climate. Suffice it to say that the country possesses a wide variety of climates across its landscape.
The physical geography of the country is also widely varied through the country. The Boreal forests occupy a large part of the territory, the country also possesses the world’s largest coastline. There are a total of eight forest regions in Canada. The country possesses an incredibly high number of fresh water lakes, 2 million, and a large number of these, almost 31,000, are between 3 and 100 square kilometers in area. The two longest rivers in the country are the Mackenzie and St. Lawrence and the country, as a whole, has a total of 10 great rivers.
The urban centers such as Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, among many others, are highly urbanized. The country relies heavily on natural resource to fuel its economy. The Canadian Prairies are spread over the central region of the country are basically the food bowl of the nation producing a large part of the agriculture and livestock. These are large expanses of flat land that can sustain agriculture while some of this land is also quite hilly and contains large areas of forest land.
The Canadian Rockies are a mountain range that runs through western North America and western South America. The Columbia mountains are also an impressive mountainous region in the western region of Canada. Canada also has a number of volcanoes and it comes in the region known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a chain of volcanoes around the margins of the Pacific Ocean. There are a variety of forests in the country, predominantly Boreal forests, but also has broadleaf forests, temperate coniferous and temperate rain forests as well.
December to February usually see cold temperatures with winter bringing temperatures to a significant low all around the country. There is snow in most regions, while areas like Vancouver are an exception where it rains instead. March to May usually has moderate temperatures while June to September are warm. October to November, with the end of summer begin to get cooler and there are usually signs of snow by the end of November.
All the ten provinces and three territories of Canada have their own capital cities, all of which are highly developed and decidedly urban. The capital of Canada is Ottawa and was named so in 1855. The name Ottawa comes from the Algonquin word for trade, one of the primary reasons for European settlement in the region. Low crime rate and high median income are just two of the highlights of this capital city. The city is full of architectural gems and has a heritage that dates back to hundreds of years before the area was settled by European immigrants.
Ottawa is in Ontario, and the capital of Ontario is Toronto. Toronto is one of the most developed cities on the western coast of the Northern American continent, and arguably in the world. The city is a cultural, entertainment, financial and business hub of the nation. The Toronto metro area is home to over 5 million citizens and is the fourth largest city in North America. Quebec City, the capital of Quebec, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the only city in Northern America to still retain its city walls. Many have rated Quebec City as the most beautiful city in Canada owing to its amazing architecture.
Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan, Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, are also some of the most urban and populated cities in the country. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia is not only a scenic beauty but also a neighbor to Vancouver, rated regularly as one of the best cities to live in the world.
Here are some other cities, over and above provincial capitals, that are great to live in for immigrants in Canada:
Canada is a bilingual nation with English and French both occupying official status in the country. This is because of the bilingual heritage left by the French and British settlers who were the first Europeans to settle in the country. Quebec is a province that has made French as its official language. 65% of the citizens of Canada speak English, while 21.5% of the population speaks French.
Canada is also home to numerous indigenous languages that are spoken nowhere else in the world. These come to around 65 distinct languages and dialects. Mandarin and Cantonese too, have many speakers in Canada. Punjabi is one of the most widely spoken immigrant dialects in Canada along with Spanish, Fillipino, German, Arabic and Italian. Korean, Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati, Russian, Polish and Dutch, are a few of the other popular, but relatively lesser spoken languages in this country.
Canada has a thriving economy and stands at the number 10 position in the world in terms of its GDP. It is supremely rich in natural resources which are cumulatively valued at over 33 trillion dollars, which the fourth highest in the world. It has the third largest reserves of petroleum in the world and is also one of the top five exporters of the crucial fossil fuel. The country is widely considered to be an energy superpower. Canada’s economy is closely interlinked with the American economy, but it has developed some truly unique economic institutions. The country has a significantly high rate of economic freedom and is a sought after destination for companies looking to expand their base in North America.
Canada has 53 companies in the Forbes Global 2000 list and is seventh on the list. Export of its rich natural resources makes up a large part of its economy. Important exports of the country include, agriculture, mining exports, forestry and energy and USA is its largest trading partner. Machinery, equipment, automobiles and automotive products also make up for a large part of Canadian exports. The combined exports and imports of Canada ranked at an overall 8th among all the nations in the world in 2006.
The Toronto Stock Exchange is the seventh largest stock exchange in the world and lists over 1500 companies with a collective valuation of 2 trillion dollars. Canada has a relatively low level of income disparity and its mixed economy is closely integrated with the American economy. The two north American countries have signed a trade agreement which waives all tariffs, and this agreement has now expanded to include Mexico as well.
The services sector of Canada employs three-fourths of all Canadians and accounts for up to 70% of the GDP. In the services sector the largest employer is the retail sector and employs 12% of all service sector employees. The business service sector too has seen a massive boom in the country and employs a percentage of people only slightly smaller than retail. The education and health sector of the country are largely under the government purview but are, by themselves, extremely large sectors for the nation.
The country has seen a rapid growth of the film, television and entertainment industry over the last few years. The tech industry too has found a lot of takers in Canada and has grown to compete with some of the big tech-savvy nations of the world. Manufacturing has remained one of Canada’s strong points ever since the Second World War. All major American and Japanese car manufacturers have plants in central Canada. The country’s publicly funded healthcare system also is extremely attractive for corporates as it cuts their costs greatly.
Canadian aerospace sector too has seen some serious growth. Bombardier Aerospace, a Canadian company, is the third largest manufacturer of commercial aircrafts in the world. The energy sector is also a crucial cog in the wheel of the Canadian economy. It possesses the third largest reserves of oil in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and is the fourth largest exporter of oil in the world. The country has also invested greatly in hydroelectric power in provinces like Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba etc.
Canada is a major supplier of wheat and other grains to the world. It exports agricultural products to the US and Asia on a regular basis. The country has one of the largest fishing industries in the world and because of its long coastline manages to be one of the producers of fish products in the world. The country is also a leading exporter of zinc, uranium, gold, nickel, aluminum, steel, cooking coal, lead, iron ore, etc. Canada also has the lowest central government debt among all the countries in the G8, putting it in a uniquely powerful position.
The culture of Canada is a combination of the many nationalities that have made the country home over the years. One of the biggest achievements of the country is creating a unique sense of multiculturalism in its culture and among its people. The country has long been influenced by British, French and indigenous art and customs, to this was added the flavour of the many immigrants that arrive at Canadian shores every year. This has had an impact on every aspect of the nation’s culture, from food, to entertainment, even the literature and folklore, and the nation’s sports, there is no aspect of Canadian life that has escaped being touched by its unique sense of multiculturalism.
Canada has produced some amazing writers over the years. The literature of the country is divided into English and French literature. The writing of the nation reflects its rich diversity and the depth of the people and the country’s culture. Writers like Margaret Atwood, Nobel Laureate Alice Monroe, and Michael Ondaatje are just some examples of the amazing literary talent that abounds in this nation. The urbanized centers of the country boast of a number of well-established and well-stocked libraries which can be used by anyone, be they student or civilian.
The country is also home to some of the most amazing art galleries and artists in the world. Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven are some of the most iconic Canadian painters. Aboriginal art has also found its way into the mainstream and the government has been giving Inuit art as gifts to foreign dignitaries. Places like Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Alberta, National Gallery of Canada are just some of the places you would want to visit if you are of the artistic bent of mind.
Canada also has the sixth largest music industry in the world and has given the world some stellar musicians. Music festivals are a regular occurrence in most urban areas of Canada. The Shambhala Music Festival is one of the most iconic music festivals in the world. The Veld Music Festival, Future Forest, Dreams Festival, Quebec City Summer Festival etc. are some of the most widely attended music festivals in the country and the world. These music festivals are usually a summer occurrence.
The country also has a very strong sporting culture, with specific summer and winter sports that one can indulge in. While the official national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse, there are a number of other sports that are played in the country. Games like golf, tennis, rugby, squash, skiing, volleyball etc. are vastly enjoyed by the people here. The high amount of forest terrains and natural beauty also make Canada a perfect destination for a nature lover. There are a number of hiking trails and national parks in the country where you can go for a day’s trip and have a picnic while at it.
For those who are essential foodies at heart, Canada provides a plethora of delights. Over and above the traditional French cuisine that is world-renowned by itself, there are a number of other cuisine options one can try. The restaurant culture in Canada is quite brilliant and most cities boast of a range of eateries from high end gourmet restaurants to small dives and bistros. Whatever it might be that you enjoy doing, Canada will have an option for you.