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General InformationCanada is a geographically vast country, consisting of 10 provinces and 3 territories. Its capital is Ottawa; Toronto is the largest city. The country's total population is an estimated 29 million.
Canada is renowned for its pristine lakes and towering mountains, all remnants of an Ice Age that covered the lands with a continental ice sheet. This sheet depressed the land surface, glacial drift occurred, and many lakes and rivers were formed. The Great Lakes, which help form the border between Canada and the United States are a remnant of this age.
Canada has one of the world's most comfortable living standards. It has been cited as the most livable place in the world for five consecutive years (1995~1999) by the United Nations. Factors such as personal freedom and safety, clean cities and parks, and easy access to natural beauty clearly make Canada an attractive study abroad destination.
Canada is a multiracial country with nearly 40% of the population tracing their roots back to Great Britain. 27% are of French decent with the greatest numbers living in the Quebec region.
The level of education is high in Canada, with its universities being recognized worldwide in many areas. Compared with other countries, Canadian language schools are many in number and offer some of the most flexible and unique programs. Fortunate students take advantage of this ideal setting for adventure travel, nature exploration, and comfortable environment for study.
ClimateMost areas in Canada are cold. Specifically, the northern regions of North America experience some of the deepest winters. However, few people realize that Canada's west coast experiences a much milder winter than most places in the northern United States and Europe. Due to the line of mountains that run north-south along Canada's west coast, the Artic winds are blocked and move east of the mountains bringing cold air to Canada's mid-section. Although not especially cold, Vancouver experiences rainy and mild winters influenced by the oceanic currents. Thanks to the lowlands to the east of the mountains, subtropical winds reach the plains during the summer months creating a warm and sometimes humid summer.
The weather often changes on the east coast, where air and currents from the Atlantic Ocean collide. It is generally cool in the summer and cold in winter.
HistoryThe name 'Canada' comes from an indigenous word meaning 'village.' Canada is said to have been first discovered by a Norwegian explorer in 985. In 1534, a French explorer by the name of Jacques Cartier proclaimed the region around Quebec and Montreal as French territory. An ensuing struggle for colonies unfolded between Britain and France involving the indigenous people. France slowly lost power, and by the end of the First World War, Canada was under British rule. In 1931, Canada achieved autonomy by virtue of the Statute of Westminster. The Canadian national flag, with its maple leaf design, was first flown in 1965.
Canada is one of the largest mineral producers in the world. The search for these valuable minerals greatly affected which regions of Canada were settled. Ontario is one of the largest producers of copper, nickel, and silver, while Alberta and Saskatchewan have great petroleum and natural gas reserves. Given the fact that nearly 50% of Canada's total land area is covered by forest, lumber is also a major export.
National CharacterCanada has experienced one of the world's largest waves of immigration during the 1990s, with more than half of the immigrant population coming from Asia. With an ethnically varied population, it is difficult to make generalizations about the Canadian people.
Nearly 87% of Canada can still trace their heritages to Europe, while Asian immigrants now make up over 10% of the population. Nearly 3% of the population is of aboriginal or Metis (mixed aboriginal and European) background.
Although valuing their close relationship with the United States, Canadians do feel a strong sense of pride in their own country and the differences that separate themselves from their neighbors to the south. Many Canadians would say that they have taken the strengths of the United States and complemented them with a safe and more personal culture. It may be because of a more harmonious and less volatile culture that Canadians are so insistent about preserving the Canadian identity.