Canada

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Canada{{#if:{{{conventional_long_name|}}}|
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Image:Flag of Canada.svg Image:Bigcancoat.png
Flag [[{{{symbol_type_article|{{{symbol_type|Coat of arms}}}}}} of Canada|{{{symbol_type|Coat of arms}}}]]
Motto: Latin: A Mari Usque Ad Mare
(English: "From Sea to Sea")
Anthem: O Canada
(Royal anthem: God Save the Queen)
Image:CanadaWorldMap.png
Capital Ottawa
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{{{largest_settlement_type|Largest city}}} Toronto}}}
Official language(s) English and French
Government
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Coordinates: Template:Coor dm})}} | government_type = Federal parliamentary democracy
and constitutional monarchy
| leader_titles =
Monarch
Governor General
Prime Minister
|

leader_names = Queen Elizabeth II
Michaëlle Jean
Stephen Harper| sovereignty_type = Independence | established_events =  - BNA Act
 - Statute of Westminster
 - Canada Act| established_dates = From the United Kingdom
July 1, 1867
December 11, 1931
April 17, 1982 | area = 9,984,670 | areami²= 3,855,103 | area_rank = 2nd | area_magnitude = 1 E12 | percent_water = 8.92 (891,163 km²) | population_estimate = 32,270,500 | population_estimate_year = July 1, 2005 | population_estimate_rank = 37th | population_census = 30,007,094 | population_census_year = 2001| population_density = 3.3 | population_densitymi² = 8.5 | population_density_rank = 185th | GDP_PPP_year = 2006 | GDP_PPP = $1.077 trillion | GDP_PPP_rank = 12th | GDP_PPP_per_capita = $32,800| GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 8th | HDI_year = 2003 | HDI = 0.949 | HDI_rank = 5th | HDI_category = high | currency = Canadian dollar ($) | currency_code = CAD | time_zone = | utc_offset = -3.5 to -8 | time_zone_DST = | utc_offset_DST = -2.5 to -7 | cctld = .ca | calling_code = 1 | footnotes = |}}

Canada is the country occupying most of the northern portion of North America, and is the world's second largest country in total area.

Originally inhabited exclusively by aboriginal peoples, Canada was founded as a union of British colonies, some of which had earlier been French colonies. Now a federal dominion of ten provinces with three territories, Canada peacefully obtained sovereignty from its last colonial possessor, the United Kingdom, in a process beginning in 1867 with its formation and ending in 1982 when Canada gained the authority to amend its own constitution.

Canada is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. Canada's head of state is its monarch, who is represented in Canada by the Governor General. The head of government is the Prime Minister.

Canada defines itself as a bilingual and multicultural nation. Both English and French are official languages. In the early 1970s, Canada began to adopt policies based on the concepts of cultural diversity and multiculturalism. Many Canadians now view this as one of the country's key attributes, but there are critics of the multiculturalism policy as well.

A technologically advanced and industrialized nation, Canada is a net exporter of energy because of its large fossil fuel deposits, nuclear energy generation, and hydroelectric power capacity. Its diversified economy relies heavily on an abundance of natural resources and trade, particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship.

Contents

Canada's name

Template:Main The name Canada is believed to come from the Huron-Iroquois word kanata, which means "village" or "settlement". In 1535, locals used the word to tell Jacques Cartier the way to Stadacona, site of present-day Quebec City. Cartier used Canada to refer not only to Stadacona, but also to the entire area subject to Donnacona, Chief at Stadacona; by 1547, maps began referring to this and the surrounding area as Canada.

History

History of Canada
Pre-Confederation
Post-Confederation
Military history
Economic history
Timeline
Main articles: History of Canada, Timeline of Canadian history

Prehistory

The ancestors of the First Peoples have inhabited parts of what is now called Canada since the retreat of glaciers that marked the end of the last ice age. Archaeological records show that these lands have been inhabited for at least 10,000 years. Several Viking expeditions occurred circa AD 1000, with evidence of settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows.

European settlement

During the early part of the 16th century both Great Britain and France claimed to portions of land in what is current day Canada. British claims to North America date from 1497, when John Cabot reached what he called Newfoundland, though it is unclear whether Cabot landed in current Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, or Maine. French claims date from explorations by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and Samuel de Champlain in 1603. Neither Cabot's nor Cartier's explorations left any permanent settlers behind. Then on August 5, 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland as England's first overseas colony under the Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1604, French settlers were the first Europeans to settle permanently in what is now Canada. After an unsuccessful winter in St. Croix Island (in current-day Maine) the French settlers settled Port-Royal in what is now the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, and later moved to found Quebec City in 1608. New France was generally used as the name given to the French colonies in Canada and Acadia (and later Louisiana).

Image:Death-wolfe.jpg

During this time British settlements were established along the Atlantic seaboard and around Hudson Bay. As these colonies expanded, a struggle for control of North America took place between 1689 and 1763 in the Seven Years' War, which was exacerbated by wars in Europe between France and Great Britain. France progressively lost territory to Great Britain, surrendering peninsular Nova Scotia in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht and the remainder of New France, including what was left of Acadia, in the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

British control

During and after the American Revolution approximately 70,000 United Empire Loyalists fled the United States. <ref>United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada</ref> Of these, roughly 50,000 loyalists settled in the British North American colonies, which then consisted of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the Province of Quebec, and Prince Edward Island (created 1769). <ref>United Empire Loyalists</ref> To accommodate the Loyalists, Britain created the colony of New Brunswick in 1784 from part of Nova Scotia, and divided Quebec and Ontario into Lower Canada and Upper Canada under the Constitutional Act in 1791.

Canada was a major battlefield of the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom. The British forces had the upper hand, burning down the White House, until the Americans managed to build warships faster and seized control of the Great lakes. With the Napoleanic wars raging in Europe the United Kingdom had limited men and resources to commit to the war, and it essentially ended in a stalemate. The war was over with the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, which resulted in the British returning conquered land and the American objective of annexing Canada failing. Due to slow travel times, hostilities continued after the treaty was signed. After the French and Napoleonic wars ended in Europe in November 1815, large-scale immigration to Canada resumed from the United Kingdom and Europe.

Following the Rebellions of 1837, The Canadas were merged into a single colony, the United Province of Canada, with the Act of Union (1840), in an attempt to assuage local resentment at a lack of popular involvement in colonial executive decision-making and perhaps to also integrate French Canadians better into the widening community. Thus the demands of the Upper and Lower Canada Rebels for responsible government was largely accommodated. In 1846 when the U.S. and Britain agreed to the 49th parallel north as the border with western British North America, the British government created the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1849 and the Colony of British Columbia in 1858. The area between the Province of Canada and the colony of British Columbia, Rupert's Land, was administered by the Hudson's Bay Company, but by the late 1850s, politicians in the Province of Canada launched a series of western exploratory expeditions with the intention of assuming control of Rupert's Land and the Arctic region.

Confederation and evolving sovereignty

Image:Johnamacdonald1870.jpgIn 1864 and 1866, British North American politicians, in what became known as the Great Coalition, held three conferences in Charlottetown, Quebec City and London to discuss the creation of a federal union. Spearheaded by John A. Macdonald, on July 1, 1867, three colonies—Canada (Ontario & Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick—were granted a constitution, the British North America Act, by the United Kingdom, creating the Dominion of Canada.

The term "Canadian Confederation" refers to the initial 1867 act of union and subsequent incorporation of other British colonies and territories. By 1880, Canada included all of its present area except for Newfoundland and Labrador (which would join in 1949). At that time, the vast area outside of the seven provinces constituted the Northwest Territories, but over the years most of it would be transferred to three existing provinces, two new ones (Alberta and Saskatchewan, 1905), and two additional territories (Yukon, 1898; Nunavut, 1999).

In 1919, Canada became a member of the League of Nations and, in the Imperial Conference of 1926, Canada assumed full control of its own affairs through the Balfour Declaration. In 1927, Canada appointed its first ambassador to a foreign country, the United States. In 1931, the Statute of Westminster gave the Balfour Declaration constitutional force, confirming that no act of the UK's parliament would thereafter extend to Canada without its consent.

Canadian citizenship was first distinguished from the notion of British Subjects in 1947; judicial appeals to the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) had been ended in criminal matters in 1875 with the establishment of the Supreme Court of Canada. This element of local judicial independence was ended by the JCPC in Nadan v. The King (1925), a major provocation to Canada and cause of the discussions which led to the Balfour Declaration; ultimately, all JCPC appeals were abolished in 1949. The power to amend Canada's constitution remained with the British parliament, although subject to the Statute of Westminster, until it was "patriated" to Canadian control by the Canada Act 1982 (which includes the 1867 act and contemporaneous act).

Quebec sovereignty movement

The Quebec sovereignty movement has led to two referenda held in 1980 and 1995, with votes of 59.6% and 50.6% respectively against its proposals for sovereignty-association. In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unilateral secession by a province to be unconstitutional.

The cornerstone of the ideology for a sovereign Quebec was a strong impetus for the October Crisis and the need to counter Quebec sovereignty through a "sponsorship program" engendered under the administration of former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. See sponsorship scandal for more details.

Government

Template:Main Image:Canada Parliament2.jpg Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy with a federal system of parliamentary government, and strong democratic traditions. The political system under which Canada operates is a Westminster system derived from the United Kingdom.

Canada's constitution governs the legal framework of the country and consists of written text and unwritten traditions and conventions. The federal government and the governments of nine provinces agreed to the patriation of the constitution, with procedures for amending it, at a meeting of First Ministers in November 1981. The Quebec government did not agree to the changes, and Quebec nationalists refer to that date as the Night of the Long Knives.

The patriation of the Constitution included the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees basic rights and freedoms for Canadians that, generally, cannot be overridden by legislation of any level of government in Canada. It contains, however, a "notwithstanding clause", which allows the federal parliament and the provincial legislatures the power to override other sections of the Charter temporarily, for a period of five years.

Monarch and Governor General

Template:Main articles Image:Queen of canada wob.jpgImage:JeanSmile.jpg

Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a Commonwealth Realm that formally recognizes Elizabeth II as Queen of Canada, <ref>Role and Responsibilities of the Governor General</ref> whose duties are performed on a day-to-day basis by the Governor General at the federal level and by the Lieutenant-Governors at the provincial level. While the Governor General has taken on more of the head of state functions, the Monarch is still constitutionally the head of Canada. Thus, formal government business, laws and the calling of elections are done or proclaimed in the Sovereign's name. <ref>How Canadians Govern Themselves</ref> Queen Elizabeth II has reigned as Canada's sovereign since February 6, 1952.<ref>The Queen and Canada: 53 Years of Growing Together</ref>

The de facto head of state is the Governor General, who is usually a retired politician, military leader, journalist, or other notable Canadian. The Governor General is formally appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada and is a non-partisan figure who fulfills many constitutional, ceremonial and symbolic roles, including providing Royal Assent to bills, reading the Speech from the Throne, officially welcoming dignitaries of foreign countries, presenting honours, signing state documents, formally opening sessions of Parliament, and dissolving Parliament for an election. The current Governor General is Michaëlle Jean.<ref>Appointment of New Governor General</ref>

Executive

Image:Harpers.jpg The position of Prime Minister, Canada's head of government, belongs to the leader of the political party that can obtain the confidence of a majority in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister and his or her cabinet are formally appointed by the Governor General. However, the Prime Minister chooses the cabinet and the Governor General always, by convention, respects the Prime Minister's choices. The Cabinet is traditionally drawn from members of the prime minister's party in both legislative houses, though mostly from the Commons. Executive power is exercised by the prime minister and cabinet, all of whom are sworn into the Privy Council of Canada and become ministers of the Crown. The Prime Minister exercises a great deal of individual political power, especially in the appointment of other officials within the government and civil service. Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has served as Prime Minister since February 6, 2006.

Legislature

The federal parliament is made up of the Queen and two houses: the elected House of Commons and the appointed Senate. Each member in the Commons is elected by simple plurality in one "riding" or electoral district; general elections are called by the Governor General when the prime minister so advises, and must occur every five years or less. Members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, are chosen by the prime minister and formally appointed by the Governor General, and serve until age 75.

Federal political parties

Canada has four main political parties today. The Liberal Party of Canada formed the government in Canada for most of the 20th century. The only other parties to have formed a government have been incarnations of the centrist/right-of-centre conservative movement in Canada. The current government is formed by the Conservative Party of Canada, established in 2003 from a merger of the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party and the Canadian Alliance. The Progressive Conservative party has formed governments in the past, as did its predecessor, the Conservative Party, which was the dominant political party in the 19th century. A single-term 'Unionist' Party of Robert Borden was formed as a union of Conservatives and conscription-supporting Liberals during World War I.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is the major party furthest to the political left and espouses social democratic policies. The Bloc Québécois promotes Quebec independence from Canada and currently holds a majority of Quebec's seats in the House of Commons. There are many smaller parties and, while none have current representation in Parliament, the list of historical parties with elected representation is substantial.

Judiciary

Image:Supreme Court of Canada.jpg Canada's judiciary plays an important role in interpreting laws and has the power to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court and final arbiter. Its nine members are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. All judges at the superior and appellate levels are selected and appointed by the prime minister, after consultation with non-governmental legal bodies. The federal cabinet also appoints justices to superior courts at the provincial and territorial levels. Judicial posts at the lower provincial and territorial levels are filled by their respective governments (see Court system of Canada for more detail).

Common law prevails everywhere except in Quebec, where civil law predominates. Criminal law is solely a federal responsibility and is uniform throughout Canada. Law enforcement, including criminal courts, is a provincial responsibility, but in most provinces policing is contracted to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Foreign relations

Template:Main Canada has a close relationship with the United States, sharing the world's longest undefended border, co-operating on some military campaigns and exercises, and being each other's largest trading partners. Canada also shares history and long relationships with the United Kingdom and France, the two most significant imperial powers in its founding. These relations extend to other former-members of the British and French empires, through Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie.

In the last century, Canada has been an advocate for multilateralism, making efforts to reach out to the rest of the world. This was clearly demonstrated during the Suez Crisis when Lester B. Pearson mollified the tension by proposing peacekeeping efforts and the inception of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. In that spirit, Canada developed and has tried to maintain a leading role in UN peacekeeping efforts. Canada has cumulatively contributed more troops to peacekeeping operations worldwide than all other nations combined and currently serves in over 40 different peacekeeping missions.

Military

Image:Canadian soldiers afghanistan.jpg

Main articles: Canadian Armed Forces, Military history of Canada

A founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Canada currently employs about 62,000 regular and 26,000 reserve military personnel<ref>The National Defence family</ref>. The unified Canadian Forces (CF) comprise the army, navy, and air force. Major CF equipment deployed includes 2,400 armoured fighting vehicles, 34 combat vessels, and 140 combat aircraft.

Canadian forces have served in various wars including the Second Boer War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the First Gulf War and recently, in Afghanistan. Since Lester B. Pearson proposed the first United Nations peacekeeping force in 1956, the Canadian Forces have served in 42 peacekeeping missions — more than any other country. Battles significantly contributing to Canada's development and self-identity include the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Second Battle of Ypres, the Third Battle of Ypres, Dieppe, Juno Beach, and the Battle of the Scheldt. At the end of World War II, Canada was the fourth strongest military power in the world, distantly behind the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.

Canada participated in a variety of capacities in NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia, and maintains military personnel in Kosovo as part of KFOR. Since 2001, Canada has had troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. invasion force, Operation Enduring Freedom. Canada also participated militarily in the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Canadian troops have participated in a number of UN missions in Haiti, including the ongoing United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has participated in two major relief operations in the last year: after Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 and the earthquake that struck Kashmir in South Asia in October 2005. The two-hundred-member team was also deployed to assist with relief efforts in Southeast Asia after the December 2004 tsunami.

Provinces and territories

Image:Map Canada political-geo.png Template:Main Canada is composed of ten provinces and three territories. The provinces have a large degree of autonomy from the federal government, the territories somewhat less. Each has its own provincial or territorial symbols.

The provinces are responsible for most of Canada's social programs (such as health care, education, and welfare) and together collect more revenue than the federal government, an almost unique structure among federations in the world. The federal government can initiate national policies that the provinces can opt out of, but this rarely happens in practice. Equalization payments are made by the federal government to ensure that reasonably uniform standards of services and taxation are kept between the richer and poorer provinces.

All provinces have unicameral, elected legislatures headed by a Premier selected in the same way as the Prime Minister of Canada. Each province also has a Lieutenant-Governor representing the Queen, analogous to the Governor General of Canada, appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Canada, though with increasing levels of consultation with provincial governments in recent years. The provinces and territories are:

Flag Province Capital city Entered
Confederation
Standard
Time Zone
(UTC)
Region
(senate region - common term - half)
Image:Flag of British Columbia.svgBritish ColumbiaVictoria1871 -8 (Pacific),
-7 (Mountain)
WesternPacificWestern
Image:Flag of Alberta.svgAlbertaEdmonton1905-7 (Mountain)Prairies
Image:Flag of Saskatchewan.svgSaskatchewanRegina1905-7 (Mountain),
-6 (Central)
Image:Flag of Manitoba.svgManitobaWinnipeg1870-6 (Central)
Image:Flag of Ontario.svgOntarioToronto1867-6 (Central),
-5 (Eastern)
OntarioCentralEastern
Image:Flag of Quebec.svgQuebecQuebec City1867-5 (Eastern)
-4 (Atlantic)
Quebec
Image:Flag of New Brunswick.svgNew BrunswickFredericton1867 -4 (Atlantic) MaritimesAtlantic
Image:Flag of Nova Scotia.svgNova ScotiaHalifax1867
Image:Flag of Prince Edward Island.svgPrince Edward IslandCharlottetown1873
Image:Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svgNewfoundland and LabradorSt. John's1949-4 (Atlantic),
-3.5 (Newfoundland)
Newfoundland
and Labrador
Flag Territory Capital city Entered
Confederation
Standard
Time Zone
(UTC)
Region
(senate region - common term)
Image:Flag of Yukon.svgYukonWhitehorse1898-8 NorthernArctic
Image:Flag of the Northwest Territories.svgNorthwest TerritoriesYellowknife1870-7
Image:Flag of Nunavut.svgNunavutIqaluit1999-7, -6, -5,
Image:Canada arm2.jpg

Image:Biosphère Montréal2.jpg

Geography and climate

Image:Canada-satellite.jpg Template:Main Canada occupies most of the northern portion of North America. It shares land borders with the contiguous United States to the south and with the US state of Alaska to the northwest, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60°W and 141°W longitude<ref>Territorial Evolution, 1927</ref>; this claim is not universally recognized. The northernmost settlement in Canada (and in the world) is Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island—latitude 82.5°N—just 834 kilometres (450 nautical miles) from the North Pole. Canada is the world's second-largest country in total area, after Russia.

The population density of 3.5 people per square kilometre (9.1/mi²) is among the lowest in the world. The most densely populated part of the country is the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor in the southeast. To the north of this region is the broad Canadian Shield, an area of rock scoured clean by the last ice age, thinly soiled, rich in minerals, and dotted with lakes and rivers — more than 60% of the world's lakes are in Canada.

Newfoundland is at the mouth of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the world's largest estuary. The Canadian Maritimes protrude eastward from the southern coasts of Quebec. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are divided by the Bay of Fundy, which experiences the world's largest tidal variations. West of Ontario, the broad, flat Canadian Prairies spread toward the Rocky Mountains, which separate them from British Columbia.

Image:MountLogan.jpgNorthern Canadian vegetation tapers from coniferous forests to tundra and finally to Arctic barrens in the far north. The northern Canadian mainland is ringed with a vast archipelago containing some of the world's largest islands.

Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada range depending on the location. Winters can be harsh in many regions of the country, particularly in the Prairie provinces, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C (5 °F) Coastal British Columbia is an exception and it enjoys a temperate climate with a mild and rainy winter.

Average summer high temperatures across Canada range depending on the location. On the east and west coast average high temperatures are in the low 20s °C (68 to 74 °F), while in between the coasts the average summer high temperature range between 25 °C to 30 °C (78 to 86 °F). For a more complete description of climate across Canada see Environment Canada's Website.

Economy

Image:Canadian bills.jpg

Main articles: Economy of Canada, Economic history of Canada

An affluent, high-tech industrial society, Canada today closely resembles the U.S. in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards. In the last century, 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 vast deposits of natural gas on the east coast and in the west, and a plethora of other natural resources contributing to self-sufficiency in energy. The 1989 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which included Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the U.S. Since 2001, Canada has successfully avoided economic recession and has maintained the best overall economic performance in the G8.

Demographics

Main articles: Demographics of Canada, List of cities in Canada, List of Canadians by ethnicity

The 2001 national census recorded 30,007,094 people; the population is currently estimated by Statistics Canada to be 32.5 million people <ref>Canada's population clock</ref>. Population growth is largely accomplished through immigration and, to a lesser extent, natural growth. About three-quarters of Canada's population live within 160 kilometres (100 mi) of the U.S. border. A similar proportion live in urban areas concentrated in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor (notably the Toronto-Hamilton, Montréal, and Ottawa metropolitan areas), the BC Lower Mainland (Vancouver and environs), and the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor in Alberta.

Image:Cntower3.jpg Canada is a very ethnically diverse nation. According to the 2001 census, it has 34 ethnic groups with at least one hundred thousand members each. Ancestries with more than 1 million people claiming them are English (19.2%), French (15.7%), Scottish (14%), Irish (12.9%), German (9.0%), Italian (4.3%), Chinese (3.5%), Ukrainian (3.6%), and aboriginal (North American Indian, Métis, and Inuit) (3.4%)<ref>Population by selected ethnic origins, by provinces and territories</ref>. Canada's aboriginal population is growing almost twice as fast as the rest of the Canadian population. In 2001, 13.4% of the population belonged to visible minorities.

Canadians adhere to a wide variety of religions. According to the last census <ref>Population by religion, by provinces and territories</ref>, 77.1% of Canadians identified as being Christians; of this, Catholics make up the largest group (43.6% of Canadians). The largest protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada; about 17% of Canadians declared no religious affiliation, and the remaining 6.3% were affiliated with religions other than Christianity.

Language

Image:800px-MontrealSkyline8.jpg

Main articles: Language in Canada, Bilingualism in Canada

Canada's two official languages, English and French, are the mother tongues of 56.3% and 28.7% of the population respectively. On July 7, 1969, under the Official Languages Act, French was made commensurate to English throughout the federal government. This started a process that led to Canada redefining itself as a "bilingual" nation.

Image:Montreal-Place Vauquelin, Note.jpg English and French have equal status in federal courts, Parliament, and in all federal institutions. The public has the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French. While multiculturalism is official policy, to become a citizen one must be able to speak either English or French and more than 98% of Canadians speak English or French or both. While the nation remains officially bilingual, the majority of Canadians are fluent only in English.

French is mostly spoken in Quebec with parts of New Brunswick, eastern and northern Ontario, Saskatchewan, the south shore of Nova Scotia and southern Manitoba. Of those who speak French as a first language, 85% live in Quebec.

French is the provincially designated official language in Quebec and the use of English in this province is not promoted. New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in the country. English is the provincially-designated official language in all other provinces.

Several aboriginal languages have official status in Northwest Territories. Inuktitut is the majority language in Nunavut and has official status there.

Non-official languages are also important in Canada, with 5,470,820 people listing a non-official language as a first language. (The above three statistics include those who listed more than one first language.) Among the most important non-official first language groups are Chinese (853,745 first-language speakers), Italian (469,485), German (438,080), and Punjabi (271,220).

Culture

Image:RCMP officer Expo 67.jpg

Main articles: Culture of Canada, Canadian identity

Due to its colonial past, Canadian culture has historically been heavily influenced by English, French, Irish and Scottish cultures and traditions. In more modern times, Canadian culture is now greatly influenced by American culture, due to the proximity and the migration of people, ideas, and capital.

Many American movies, authors, TV shows and musicians are equally popular in Canada (and vice versa), many have been successful worldwide. Most cultural products of these types are now increasingly marketed toward a unified "North American" market, and not specifically a Canadian or American one.

Amidst this large American cultural presence, which has prompted some fears of a "cultural takeover," a more robust and distinct Canadian culture with unique characteristics has developed in recent years due to a focus by the federal government on programs, laws and institutions to support culture and the arts, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board of Canada, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Many Canadians see Canadian culture as based on the policy of multiculturalism, while others see it as based on a predominantly British and French core, with American and new immigrant influences and modifications.

Sports

Image:Ice hockey 1901.jpg Template:Main Canada's official national sports are ice hockey (winter) and lacrosse (summer), however, hockey is considerably more a part of Canadian culture, and is by far the most popular spectator sport in the country. Canada's six largest metropolitan areas have franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL), and there are more Canadian players in the league than from all other countries combined. The three major junior leagues that together comprise the Canadian Hockey League have a combined total of 49 teams in Canadian towns or cities, from all 10 provinces. There are also strong women's leagues across the country.

Curling is another extremely popular winter sport in Canada, with the strongest support in the prairie provinces. At the international level, Canada has dominated the sport of curling, with 29 out of 46 Men's World Curling Championships won by Canada. Additionally, 13 out of 27 Women's World Curling Championships have gone to the Canadian side. Image:Vancouver-bridge.jpg Canadian football, like American football, is a descendant from rugby football but evolved differently and has unique rules. The eight team Canadian Football League is the top league of the sport, and the annual Grey Cup championship game is viewed by a large television audience. Traditional football (soccer) is widely popular in youth, interscholastic, and senior leagues but not at the professional level as it is in Europe or Latin America.

As the vast majority of Canadians live in very close proximity to the United States, Canadians can also watch sporting events from the professional leagues in that country, such as NASCAR<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> and the National Football League. The NHL and the National Lacrosse League are composed of teams from both Canada and the United States. Toronto currently has franchises in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. Other notable participatory sports which are enjoyed throughout Canada include ice skating, skiing, golf, soccer, swimming, baseball and softball.

Canada will be the host country of the 2010 Winter Olympics, to be held in Greater Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.

National symbols

Image:Maple leaf.jpg The use of the maple leaf as a Canadian symbol dates back to the early 18th century, and is depicted on its current and previous flags, the penny, and on the coat of arms.

The Crown appears on the Royal Arms of Canada, the Flag of the Governor General of Canada, the Coat of Arms of many provinces and territories; the badges of the Canadian Armed Forces, many regiments, and police forces; on many buildings, as well as some highway signs. Also, the Queen's image appears in Canadian government buildings, military installations and schools; and on Canadian stamps, $20 bank notes, and all coins.

Canada is known for its vast forests and mountain ranges, and the animals that reside within them, such as moose, beavers, caribou, polar bears, grizzly bears, Canada goose and the common loon. The beaver's emblematic status originated from the fact much of Canada's early economic history was tied to the fur trade. Other products made from the country's natural resources, such as maple syrup, are also strongly associated with Canadian identity.

Additional national symbols include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and anything pertaining to hockey, Canada's official winter sport, which is often used as a national symbol of unity and pride.

In recent years, other symbols have become a source of pride: notably, the I am Canadian campaign by Molson, most notably the commercial featuring Joe Canada, infused home-grown beer with nationalism. The Canadian fashion retailer Roots also sells a variety of merchandise designed to evoke nationalistic sentiment.

Holidays

Template:Main Statutory and major holidays in Canada include New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day, Christmas, and Boxing Day.

Canada's provinces and territories generally adopt statutory holidays similar to federal ones with some variations (including civic holidays), and many Canadians celebrate numerous unofficial and religious holidays as well.

International rankings

See also

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References

Detailed references available in a subpage Canada/References.

Notes

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External links

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Countries and North America as a continent
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Belize | Canada | Costa Rica | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | El Salvador | Grenada | Guatemala | Haiti | Honduras | Jamaica | Mexico | Nicaragua | Panama | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago | United States
Dependencies: Denmark: Greenland | France: Guadeloupe · Martinique · Saint-Pierre and Miquelon | Netherlands: Aruba · Netherlands Antilles | UK: Anguilla · Bermuda · British Virgin Islands · Cayman Islands · Montserrat · Turks and Caicos Islands | U.S.: Navassa Island · Puerto Rico · U.S. Virgin Islands
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