Canada is known to be one of the most diverse countries in the world for its landscape, its climate, its real estate and its people. Across the country and throughout its provinces, you wil find people speaking more than just English and French – the country’s two official languages. You will also find plenty of things to see and experience as you discover why so many people want to call this the U.S.’s northern neighbor home.
Canada takes up most of North America, a continent in the Western Hemisphere. The country’s southern border is shared with the continental United States while Alaska, the
U.S. 49th state, stretches out from the northwest of Canada. The rest of Canada is surrounded by water. The Pacific Ocean lies to its west, the Atlantic Ocean to its east, and the Arctic Ocean to the north.
The country is considered the 2nd largest in terms of square miles in the world. The country covers over 3.8 million square miles. Only Russia, with its 6.5 million square miles, is larger. Traveling from the coast to coast in Canada would take you over more than 2,300 miles. If you drove 60 miles per hour, you’d still spend 50 hours making the journey just one way.
Canada consists of ten provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan – and three territories including the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
Population, Culture, and History
Considering its large geographic size, the Canadian population is relatively small. In 2007, they are expected to have almost 33 million citizens – which puts them 36th in terms of population among the world’s other countries. In comparison, the U. S. which is just slightly smaller has a population of over 300 million; and Russia, which covers twice as much land, has a population of 143 million.
Although its population is small, it is very diverse. More than 100 different languages are spoken in Canada. Their diversity is helped by their fast growing immigration rate. The country has the highest rate of immigration per capita compared to any industrialized country, including the United States, even though they have strict policies about who can live and work in their borders legally.
Like the U.S., Canada was first populated by groups of indigenous people – known as the First Nations (a collective name for them) and the Inuit. Most of these people probably came to the world across a land bridge connecting Alaska and Russia. These groups lived and thrived in isolation for thousands of years before the Europeans began to visit the area.
In the 11th century, the Vikings had already begun forming settlements in Canada. In the centuries that followed, explorers from England, Spain, Portugal, and France would all come to the country and claim parts of it for their homeland. However, Samuel de Champlain claimed a large portion of the country for France and called it New France. Just as the thirteen colonies in the U. S. were controlled by the British, the colonies in “New France” were controlled by the French.
The French and the British did not get alone peacefully. Instead they spent much of the 17th and 18th centuries waging war with one another in their colonies to gain more control of the new land. Because the British had more financial and military might, it wasn’t surprising that the country eventually fell to the English at the end of the Seven Years’ War.
Between 1764 and 1867, Canada was controlled by the British Empire. During that time, many of its citizens joined in rebellions against the ruling government. Eventually, Canadians banded together and created the laws which formed the groundwork for the British North America Act which established the country as a self-governing colony of Britain.
Although Canada has become a very multicultural country thanks to its increasing immigration, the federal government also works to support what it considers Canadian culture though the funding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
Transportation and Access
There are many ways to reach Canada, depending on where you are coming from. If you’re arriving from outside North America, the best method of transportation is by airplane. The country boasts 9 international airports. From those airports, you can take smaller flights into the other provinces or drive along the Trans-Canada Highway which travels from British Columbia to Newfoundland. The full length of the highway is 5,000 miles.
For travelers coming from the United States, arriving by automobile is usually the best choice, although regular flights between the countries are also popular. One advantage of driving is that the visitor can use his or her own vehicle for up to six months while in the country.
Travelers who want something more scenic might consider taking an Amtrak train from the U. S. into Canada. Both Chicago, Illinois and Buffalo, New York have rail travel connected to Canada. Once inside Canada, additional rail service is available to take you into most of the provinces but not the territories.
Because of Canada’s huge size, its climate varies a great deal from area to area. The northern parts of Canada include some areas which are barren arctic zones. Even though most of Canada isn’t quite so frigid and desolate, the temperatures can drop very low especially in the flat lands. Average temperatures in one part were around 5 degrees Fahrenheit but could drop far below freezing and be accompanied by blasts of badly cold wind. In comparison, you can find a temperate climate along the coast of British Columbia which means they don’t have extreme weather conditions and have much milder winters and summers.
Throughout the rest of Canada, the average temperatures fall in the 70 degrees Fahrenheit range with extremes at either end of the spectrum happening occasionally.
Sights and Activities
One of Canada’s biggest natural attractions is Niagara Falls. People come from all over the world to catch a glimpse and sometimes a feel of the waterfalls 170 feet drop into the pool below. In Toronto, you can travel to the top of the CN Tower and get a spectacular view of Canada, or you can take the children to the Toronto Islands which include amusement park rides for the little ones.
In Quebec City, you can find dozens of historical monuments and museums that should appeal to anyone with an interest in traveling back in time. Montreal, on the other hand, includes a botanical garden, an insectarium, and an amusement park featuring several incredible roller coasters.
Besides these attractions, Canada is also great for a number of outdoor activities. The environment in many parts is ideal for skiing and snowboarding. Ice skating and hockey are also quite popular in the country. Of course, before you leave you can catch a professional hockey game, since that is the country’s national sport.
Shopping and Services
If you want to do some shopping, you won’t be disappointed in Canada. You’ll be able to find shopping centers and malls in all of the major metropolitan areas. However, if you’re a serious shopper, you might want to make your way to Alberta so you can enjoy the West Edmonton Mall.
The mall is the largest in North America and is the third largest in the world. With more than 800 shops, nearly anything you could ever want can be found under its roof. In addition to shopping, you can also enjoy an amusement park include roller coasters, an ice rink, miniature golf, dance clubs, three movie theaters, performing sea lions, a petting zoo, and a water park.
If you stay close to the metro areas of Canada, you’ll be able to find any service that you could possibly need available. Car rental, spa treatments, delivery services, and every kind of restaurant service you could ask for are all readily available.
Canada Real Estate, Accommodations/Lodging
Around the big cities in Canada, you’ll find dozens of hotels, real estate and lodging options. You can rent ski chalets in some areas and other types of rental property in high-tourism sections of the country. Major hotel chains are common in these cities, as are smaller and more localized Canadian chains. In smaller sections, particularly around Niagara Falls, you can find bed and breakfast inns that promise quaint and personalized service. Camping and low-cost motels are other options to consider when visiting the country.
The Canada real estate market has experienced significant expansion in many areas. As is the case with most large geographic areas, the housing costs will vary by region, city and suburb area. In developed and growing centers like Vancouver, British Columbia for example home purchases may typically cost more than comparable homes in older established cities such as Montreal, Quebec or Halifax, Nova Scotia. The monthly costs of owning a home will vary in similar fashion, based on development, and regional economics of the services demanded and supplied.
All in all, Canada offers unlimited options for exploring and discovery. Whether you’re just a casual visitor, a real estate investor, or seeking to immigrate, the renowned Great White North of Canada could be just what you’re looking for.