Introduction to Canada

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 at 12:00 am

CanadaIn terms of land mass, Canada is the second largest country in the world. It is second only to Russia. The country measures 9.9 million sq. kilometers or 3.8 million sq. miles and occupies most of the northern part of North America.

Canada extends its boarders from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. And to the country’s northwest and south is the United States, Canada’s closest neighbor. The two countries have been living in such close proximity that some cultural heritage and practices have become entwined. What is certain, however, is that Canada and the US have both benefited from their good and strong trading relationship.

Canada may be large but it’s population is relatively small. When compared to Russia, Canada’s population comes only to one-fifth of that of the former Soviet Union’s. Moreover, most Canadians live within 200 km of the border with the United States. This leaves the rest of the country uninhabited especially in its northern territories.

Canada was historically inhabited aboriginal peoples. It was in the late 15th century when British and French explorers made some expeditions of the area. It was also during this time that early settlers began their life in the Atlantic coast. In 1763 France ceded most of New France after the Seven Years War.

More than a hundred years later, Canada was created by a Confederation of four British North American colonies in 1867. The United Kingdom eventually game independence to the various parts of Canada that it controlled. The process was gradual and long. The process of independence culminated in the Canada Act of 1982 after the last remnants of British rule was turned over to the government of Canada.

However, despite the end of political dependence to Britain, the influences of the English can still be seen in the country’s political structure. Canada’s government remains to be a constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada as its head of state with a governor-general as its representative.

It also practices parliamentary democracy with a federal system of ten provinces and three territories. With this, the structure of Canada’s federal parliament is a Queen and two houses, the elected House of Commons and the appointed Senate. The country has a prime minister who is Canada’s head of government.

Canada has two official languages, English and French. The two languages are given equal status in all federal institutions including the courts and the Parliament. Most of Canada’s culture is drawn from its years of influences from the British and the French and its ancestral heritage from Aboriginal cultures and traditions.

However, some of the country’s cultural products are heavily influenced by American subculture and traditions. Still, the country is trying to maintain cultural independence so as not affect their own sense of identity. This is exactly why Canadian laws and the federal government supports the preservation of distinct Canadian cultural heritage. The national and official sports in Canada are ice hockey and lacrosse.

Free market economy reigns in Canada. However, the government intervenes every now and then, but not as often or as much as governments of European countries. Canada belongs to the elite countries of the world. It is one of the world’s richest nation and a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Group of Eight (G8).