Lying near North America, the land of Canada is majestic and has varied features ranging from the Atlantic to the Pacific and to the Arctic Ocean; from the endless evergreen forests to the sky-scraping peaks of the Rockies and the sparkling lakes and rivers. The name Canada is derived from the word ‘Kanata’ used by its natives to describe their village. Stretching the longest coastline, the natural beauty of this huge country is further enhanced by the magnificent Niagara Falls. The vibrant hues of orange, red, yellow and brown colour of maple tree leaves dominate its landscape in autumn and make a spectacular sight. From the quiet, pastoral countryside to the hustle and bustle of the cities, visit to Canada could be a dynamic experience. The Royal Mounted Canadian Police occupy a place of pride in the attractions that this magnificent country has to offer. Let us learn more about Canada.

Where is it located?

Canada is located in the continent of North America. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, it is the only country of the world which shares the longest border with US (8,893km). Out of its total area of about 9,984,670 sq. km, land occupies about 9,093,507 sq. km whereas area occupied by water is about 8, 91,163 sq. km. Stretching a coastline of about 202,080 km, it lies between 60° N latitude and 95° W longitude. Comparatively, it ranks 2nd in the world, and is slightly larger than the United States of America.

How is its topography and climatic conditions?

The climate of Canada varies from being temperate in the south to sub-arctic and arctic in the north. Its terrain is mostly plains, with mountains in the west and lowlands in south-east. The annual average temperatures vary between 18°C in summers and -4°C in the winters. The lowest point of elevation is the Atlantic Ocean at 0 m whereas the highest point is Mount Logan at about 5,959 m. Its natural resources are iron ore, zinc, nickel, copper, gold, lead, rare earth elements, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas and hydropower. It faces natural hazards such as continuous permafrost (ice) in the north and cyclonic storms to the east of the Rocky Mountains producing most of the rain and snow. Vast majority of volcanoes in Western Canada’s Coast Mountains remain dormant.  Metal smelting, coal-burning, vehicle emissions, air pollution, acid rains and contaminated ocean waters are the environmental issues faced by Canada.

What is its flora and fauna like?

Being the second largest country, there is a great variety of flora and fauna found in Canada. The flora is made up of white pine, hemlock, sugar and red maples, yellow birch, and beech trees in the St. Lawrence region. Coniferous trees like red spruce, white spruce, black spruce, balsam fir, white cedar, tamarack, white birch, aspen and jack pine are found in the drier areas. Aspen, bur oak, balm of Gilead, cottonwood, balsam poplar and white birch are found near the grasslands. The west coast is covered with tall hard conifers, western hemlock and red cedar, Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and western white pine, Alpine fir, Engelmann spruce, lodgepole pine, aspen and mountain hemlock. The Arctic region is covered with low growing grasses, moss and bushes. The fauna includes deer, black bear, opossum, gray and red squirrels, otter, beaver and skunk and birds include eastern bluebird, red–winged black bird, robin, wood thrush, woodpecker, oriole, bobolink, crow, hawk, bittern, heron, black duck and loon. In the forest areas, moose, caribou, lynx, timber wolf, marten, beaver, porcupine, snowshoe rabbit, red squirrel and chipmunk are found. Also found are grizzly bear, otter, muskox, reindeer, polar bear, white and blue fox, arctic hare and arctic tern. Walrus, seals, and whales inhabit Canada’s coastal waters.

What are their food habits?

Agricultural abundance and vast landscape has influenced the food habits of the Canadians in terms of size and variety. Canadians are ‘big eaters’ with meat portions dominating their meals. Breakfast is large and lunch is more often a snack whereas dinner is the largest and socially important meal of the day. There are rules concerning an appropriate food for each meal, for example, pork in breakfast may be bacon or sausage while lunch may be a sandwich or processed meat whereas for dinner, it may be in the form of roasts or hams.  Another special dish worth mentioning is ‘Potluck ’where guests prepare dishes and bring it to an event to share it with all the diners. Though the Canadian cuisine is made up of diverse foods, the Maple syrup is considered strictly Canadian.

What is its overall culture?

Though the Canadian society is modern, certain professions are male-dominated such as a doctor whereas nurses are always females. Marriage between a man and woman is entirely by choice and is dissolved by a legal process. A common form of marriage is de facto or common-law-union. The most common domestic unit is the nuclear family made up of both, parents and children. Increase in the rate of divorce however, has led to an increase in the number of single-parent household usually headed by a woman. Men exercise more power in financial and disciplinary matters than their female partners. The women look after the children. Canadians are generally soft spoken, patient, almost apologetic and tolerant in their public behaviour.    

Which are the religions followed languages spoken?

Canada has two official languages, English and French. Other languages spoken are Punjabi, Chinese, Italian, German, Spanish, Cantonese, Tagalog, Arabic and many others.   About 40.6% of the people are Catholics including the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox and other Catholics; about 20.3% are Protestants including the United Church, the Anglican Baptist Lutheran, the Pentecostal, the Presbyterian and other Protestants; and a small minority of the population are other Christians. Also, there is a small population of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jewish.

What are its economic features?

Canada is a high–tech industrial society and it resembles US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production and high standards of living. Its agricultural products include wheat, barley, oilseed, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fish and forest products. Industries that contribute to its development are transportation, equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas. It exports motor vehicles and parts, industrial machinery, aircraft, telecommunications equipment, chemicals, plastics, fertilizers, wood pulp, timber, timber, crude petroleum, natural gas, electricity and aluminium to US and China.  On the other hand, it imports machinery and equipment, major vehicles and parts, crude oil, chemicals, electricity and durable consumer goods from the US, China and Mexico.

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