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Canada Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Canada Map

Introduction

Background

A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867, while retaining ties to the British crown. Canada repatriated its constitution from the UK in 1982, severing a final colonial tie. Economically and technologically, the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across the world's longest international border. Canada faces the political challenges of meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care, education, social services, and economic competitiveness, as well as responding to the particular concerns of predominantly francophone Quebec. Canada also aims to develop its diverse energy resources while maintaining its commitment to the environment.

Geography

Location

Northern North America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean on the east, North Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Arctic Ocean on the north, north of the conterminous US

Geographic coordinates

60 00 N, 95 00 W

Map references

North America

Area

total: 9,984,670 sq km

land:9,093,507 sq km

water:891,163 sq km

country comparison to the world: 3

Area - comparative

slightly larger than the US

Land boundaries

total: 8,891 km

border countries (3):US 8,891 km (includes 2,475 km with Alaska)

note: Canada is the world's largest country that borders only one country

Coastline

202,080 km

note: the Canadian Arctic Archipelago - consisting of 36,563 islands, several of them some of the world's largest - contributes to Canada easily having the longest coastline in the world

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone:24 nm

exclusive economic zone:200 nm

continental shelf:200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate

varies from temperate in south to subarctic and arctic in north

Terrain

mostly plains with mountains in west, lowlands in southeast

Elevation

highest point: Mount Logan 5,959 m

lowest point:Atlantic/Pacific/Arctic Oceans 0 m

mean elevation:487 m

Natural resources

bauxite, iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, uranium, rare earth elements, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 6.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 4.7% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 1.6% (2018 est.)

forest:34.1% (2018 est.)

other:59.1% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

8,700 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

2.902 trillion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

vast majority of Canadians are positioned in a discontinuous band within approximately 300 km of the southern border with the United States; the most populated province is Ontario, followed by Quebec and British Columbia

Natural hazards

continuous permafrost in north is a serious obstacle to development; cyclonic storms form east of the Rocky Mountains, a result of the mixing of air masses from the Arctic, Pacific, and North American interior, and produce most of the country's rain and snow east of the mountains

volcanism: the vast majority of volcanoes in Western Canada's Coast Mountains remain dormant

Environment - international agreements

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Heavy Metals, Air Pollution-Multi-effect Protocol, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified:Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Marine Life Conservation

Geography - note

note 1: second-largest country in world (after Russia) and largest in the Americas; strategic location between Russia and US via north polar route; approximately 90% of the population is concentrated within 160 km (100 mi) of the US border

note 2: Canada has more fresh water than any other country and almost 9% of Canadian territory is water; Canada has at least 2 million and possibly over 3 million lakes - that is more than all other countries combined

People and Society

Population

37,943,231 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 38

Nationality

noun: Canadian(s)

adjective:Canadian

Ethnic groups

Canadian 32.3%, English 18.3%, Scottish 13.9%, French 13.6%, Irish 13.4%, German 9.6%, Chinese 5.1%, Italian 4.6%, North American Indian 4.4%, East Indian 4%, other 51.6% (2016 est.)

note: percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one ethnic origin

Languages

English (official) 58.7%, French (official) 22%, Punjabi 1.4%, Italian 1.3%, Spanish 1.3%, German 1.3%, Cantonese 1.2%, Tagalog 1.2%, Arabic 1.1%, other 10.5% (2011 est.)

Religions

Catholic 39% (includes Roman Catholic 38.8%, other Catholic .2%), Protestant 20.3% (includes United Church 6.1%, Anglican 5%, Baptist 1.9%, Lutheran 1.5%, Pentecostal 1.5%, Presbyterian 1.4%, other Protestant 2.9%), Orthodox 1.6%, other Christian 6.3%, Muslim 3.2%, Hindu 1.5%, Sikh 1.4%, Buddhist 1.1%, Jewish 1%, other 0.6%, none 23.9% (2011 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form:Canada

etymology:the country name likely derives from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word "kanata" meaning village or settlement

Government type

federal parliamentary democracy (Parliament of Canada) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm; federal and state authorities and responsibilities regulated in constitution

Capital

name: Ottawa

geographic coordinates:45 25 N, 75 42 W

time difference:UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time:+1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November

note:Canada has six time zones

etymology: 
the city lies on the south bank of the Ottawa River, from which it derives its name; the river name comes from the Algonquin word "adawe" meaning "to trade" and refers to the indigenous peoples who used the river as a trade highway

Administrative divisions

10 provinces and 3 territories*; Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories*, Nova Scotia, Nunavut*, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon*

Independence

1 July 1867 (union of British North American colonies); 11 December 1931 (recognized by UK per Statute of Westminster)

National holiday

Canada Day, 1 July (1867)

Constitution

history: consists of unwritten and written acts, customs, judicial decisions, and traditions dating from 1763; the written part of the constitution consists of the Constitution Act of 29 March 1867, which created a federation of four provinces, and the Constitution Act of 17 April 1982

amendments:proposed by either house of Parliament or by the provincial legislative assemblies; there are 5 methods for passage though most require approval by both houses of Parliament, approval of at least two thirds of the provincial legislative assemblies and assent and formalization as a proclamation by the governor general in council; the most restrictive method is reserved for amendments affecting fundamental sections of the constitution, such as the office of the monarch or the governor general, and the constitutional amendment procedures, which require unanimous approval by both houses and by all the provincial assemblies, and assent of the governor general in council; amended 11 times, last in 2011 (Fair Representation Act, 2011)

Legal system

common law system except in Quebec, where civil law based on the French civil code prevails

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only:yes

dual citizenship recognized:yes

residency requirement for naturalization:minimum of 3 of last 5 years resident in Canada

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Acting Governor General Richard WAGNER (since 21 January 2021)

head of government:Prime Minister Justin Pierre James TRUDEAU (Liberal Party) (since 4 November 2015)

cabinet:Federal Ministry chosen by the prime minister usually from among members of his/her own party sitting in Parliament

elections/appointments:the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister for a 5-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition in the House of Commons generally designated prime minister by the governor general

note: the governor general position is largely ceremonial; Julie PAYETTE, Canada's fourth female governor general, resigned on 21 January 2021; Richard WAGNER, chief justice of the Supreme Court, will be Acting Governor General in the interim

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of:
Senate or Senat (105 seats; members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister and can serve until age 75)
House of Commons or Chambre des Communes (338 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote with terms up to 4 years)

elections:Senate - appointed; latest appointments in December 2018
House of Commons - last held on 21 October 2019 (next to be held in October 2023)

election results:
Senate - composition as of December 2018 - men 51, women 54, percent of women 51.4% 

House of Commons - percent of vote by party - CPC 34.4%, Liberal Party 33.1%, NDP 15.9%, Bloc Quebecois 7.7%, Greens 6.5%, other 2.4%; seats by party - Liberal Party 157, CPC 121, NDP 24, Bloc Quebecois 32, Greens 4; composition - men 240, women 98, percent of women 29%; note - total Parliament percent of women 34.3%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court of Canada (consists of the chief justice and 8 judges); note - in 1949, Canada abolished all appeals beyond its Supreme Court, which prior to that time, were heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office:chief justice and judges appointed by the prime minister in council; all judges appointed for life with mandatory retirement at age 75

subordinate courts:federal level: Federal Court of Appeal; Federal Court; Tax Court; federal administrative tribunals; Courts Martial; provincial/territorial level: provincial superior, appeals, first instance, and specialized courts; note -  in 1999, the Nunavut Court - a circuit court with the power of a provincial superior court, as well as a territorial court - was established to serve isolated settlements

Political parties and leaders

Bloc Quebecois [Yves-Francois BLANCHET]
Conservative Party of Canada or CPC [Erin O'TOOLE]
Green Party [Annamie PAUL]
Liberal Party [Justin TRUDEAU]
New Democratic Party or NDP [Jagmeet SINGH]
People's Party of Canada [Maxime BERNIER]

International organization participation

ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CD, CDB, CE (observer), EAPC, EBRD, EITI (implementing country), FAO, FATF, G-7, G-8, G-10, G-20, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IGAD (partners), IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNMISS, UNRWA, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Kirsten HILLMAN (since 17 July 2020)

chancery:501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

telephone:[1] (202) 682-1740

FAX:[1] (202) 682-7726

consulate(s) general:Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, Seattle

trade office(s):Houston, Palo Alto (CA), San Diego; note - there are trade offices in the Consulates General

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Richard M. MILLS, Jr. (since 23 August 2019)

telephone:[1] (613) 688-5335

embassy:490 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 1G8

mailing address:P. O. Box 5000, Ogdensburg, NY 13669-0430; P.O. Box 866, Station B, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5T1

FAX:[1] (613) 688-3082

consulate(s) general:Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver

consulate(s):Winnipeg

Flag description

two vertical bands of red (hoist and fly side, half width) with white square between them; an 11-pointed red maple leaf is centered in the white square; the maple leaf has long been a Canadian symbol

National symbol(s)

maple leaf, beaver; national colors: red, white

National anthem

name: O Canada

lyrics/music:Adolphe-Basile ROUTHIER [French], Robert Stanley WEIR [English]/Calixa LAVALLEE

note: adopted 1980; originally written in 1880, "O Canada" served as an unofficial anthem many years before its official adoption; the anthem has French and English versions whose lyrics differ; as a Commonwealth realm, in addition to the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" serves as the royal anthem (see United Kingdom)

Economy

Economic overview

Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. Canada has a large oil and natural gas sector with the majority of crude oil production derived from oil sands in the western provinces, especially Alberta. Canada now ranks third in the world in proved oil reserves behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia and is the world’s seventh-largest oil producer.

TThe 1989 Canada-US Free Trade Agreement and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (which includes Mexico) dramatically increased trade and economic integration between the US and Canada. Canada and the US enjoy the world’s most comprehensive bilateral trade and investment relationship, with goods and services trade totaling more than $680 billion in 2017, and two-way investment stocks of more than $800 billion. Over three-fourths of Canada’s merchandise exports are destined for the US each year. Canada is the largest foreign supplier of energy to the US, including oil, natural gas, and electric power, and a top source of US uranium imports.

Given its abundant natural resources, highly skilled labor force, and modern capital stock, Canada enjoyed solid economic growth from 1993 through 2007. The global economic crisis of 2007-08 moved the Canadian economy into sharp recession by late 2008, and Ottawa posted its first fiscal deficit in 2009 after 12 years of surplus. Canada's major banks emerged from the financial crisis of 2008-09 among the strongest in the world, owing to the financial sector's tradition of conservative lending practices and strong capitalization. Canada’s economy posted strong growth in 2017 at 3%, but most analysts are projecting Canada’s economic growth will drop back closer to 2% in 2018.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 13,258,721

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:35.46 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 34,597,559

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:92.53 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 43

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: excellent service provided by first-rate technology; offers 99% coverage with LTE; consumer demand for mobile data services have prompted telecom companies to invest and advance LTE infrastructure, and further investment in 5G; govt. policy has aided the extension of broadband to rural and regional areas, with the result that services are almost universally accessible; govt. sets up $400 million public-private partnership to exploit benefits of 5G (2020)

domestic:35 per 100 fixed-line; 93 per 100 mobile-cellular; comparatively low mobile penetration provides further room for growth; domestic satellite system with about 300 earth stations (2019)

international:country code - 1; landing points for the Nunavut Undersea Fiber Optic Network System, Greenland Connect, Persona, GTT Atlantic, and Express, KetchCan 1 Submarine Fiber Cable system, St Pierre and Miquelon Cable submarine cables providing links to the US and Europe; satellite earth stations - 7 (5 Intelsat - 4 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Pacific Ocean, and 2 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

2 public TV broadcasting networks, 1 in English and 1 in French, each with a large number of network affiliates; several private-commercial networks also with multiple network affiliates; overall, about 150 TV stations; multi-channel satellite and cable systems provide access to a wide range of stations including US stations; mix of public and commercial radio broadcasters with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the public radio broadcaster, operating 4 radio networks, Radio Canada International, and radio services to indigenous populations in the north; roughly 1,119 licensed radio stations (2016)

Internet country code

.ca

Internet users

total: 33,743,954

percent of population:91% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 23

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 14,445,606

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:39 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 14

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 51 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers:879

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers:89.38 million (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers:3,434,070,000 mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

C

Airports

total: 1,467 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 4

Airports - with paved runways

total: 523 (2017)

over 3,047 m:21 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m:19 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m:147 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m:257 (2017)

under 914 m:79 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 944 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m:75 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:385 (2013)

under 914 m:484 (2013)

Heliports

26 (2013)

Pipelines

110000 km gas and liquid petroleum (2017)

Railways

total: 77,932 km (2014)

standard gauge:77,932 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

country comparison to the world: 4

Roadways

total: 1,042,300 km (2011)

paved:415,600 km (includes 17,000 km of expressways) (2011)

unpaved:626,700 km (2011)

country comparison to the world: 8

Waterways

636 km (Saint Lawrence Seaway of 3,769 km, including the Saint Lawrence River of 3,058 km, shared with United States) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 77

Merchant marine

total: 691

by type:bulk carrier 20, container ship 1, general cargo 76, oil tanker 15, other 579 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 34

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Halifax, Saint John (New Brunswick), Vancouver

oil terminal(s):Lower Lakes terminal

container port(s) (TEUs):Montreal (1,537,669), Vancouver (3,252,225) (2017)

LNG terminal(s) (import):Saint John

river and lake port(s):Montreal, Quebec City, Sept-Isles (St. Lawrence)

dry bulk cargo port(s):Port-Cartier (iron ore and grain),

Fraser River Port (Fraser) Hamilton (Lake Ontario)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Canadian Forces: Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command; Primary Reserve (army, air, naval reserves); Coast Guard (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) (2021)

note: the Army reserves include the Canadian Rangers, which provides a limited presence in Canada's northern, coastal, and isolated areas for sovereignty, public safety, and surveillance roles

Military expenditures

1.42% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.29% of GDP (2019)

1.31% of GDP (2018)

1.44% of GDP (2017)

1.16% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 95

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Canadian Armed Forces have approximately 66,000 total active personnel (23,000 Army; 8,000 Navy; 12,000 Air Force; 23,000 other uniformed personnel) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the CAF's inventory is a mix of domestically-produced equipment and imported weapons systems from Australia, Europe, Israel, and the US; since 2010, the leading supplier by far is the US; Canada's defense industry develops, maintains, and produces a range of equipment, including aircraft, combat vehicles, naval vessels, and associated components (2020)

Military deployments

540 Latvia (NATO); up to 200 Ukraine; up to 850 Middle East (multiple missions, including support to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and NATO assistance mission Iraq) (2021)

Military service age and obligation

17 years of age for voluntary male and female military service (with parental consent); 16 years of age for Reserve and Military College applicants; Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status required; maximum 34 years of age; service obligation 3-9 years (2021)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) (2019)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

managed maritime boundary disputes with the US at Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Gulf of Maine, including the disputed Machias Seal Island and North Rock; Canada and the United States dispute how to divide the Beaufort Sea and the status of the Northwest Passage but continue to work cooperatively to survey the Arctic continental shelf; US works closely with Canada to intensify security measures for monitoring and controlling legal and illegal movement of people, transport, and commodities across the international border; sovereignty dispute with Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Ellesmere Island and Greenland; commencing the collection of technical evidence for submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in support of claims for continental shelf beyond 200 nm from its declared baselines in the Arctic, as stipulated in Article 76, paragraph 8, of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 7,356 (Colombia), 6,640 (Nigeria), 6,563 (Haiti), 6,060 (China), 5,876 (Turkey), 5,498 (Pakistan) (2018); 6,751 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum, are recognized as refugees, or have received alternative legal stay) (2019)

stateless persons:3,790 (2019)

Illicit drugs

illicit producer of cannabis for the domestic drug market and export to US; use of hydroponics technology permits growers to plant large quantities of high-quality marijuana indoors; increasing ecstasy production, some of which is destined for the US; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering because of its mature financial services sector

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