Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world’s second-largest country by total area and the fourth-largest country by land area. Canada’s border with the United States is the world’s longest binational land border.
The majority of the country has a cold or severely cold winter climate, but southerly areas are warm in summer. Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land territory being dominated by forest and tundra and the Rocky Mountains.
It is highly urbanized with 82 per cent of the 35.15 million people concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. One third of the population lives in the three largest metropolitan areas: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Its capital is Ottawa, and other major urban areas include Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hamilton.
Various indigenous peoples had inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years prior to European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century, British and French claims were made on the area, with the colony of Canada first being established by the French in 1535 during Jacques Cartier’s second voyage to New France. As a consequence of various conflicts, Great Britain gained and lost territories within British North America until it was left, in the late 18th century, with what mostly geographically comprises Canada today.
Pursuant to the British North America Act, on July 1, 1867, the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia joined to form the semi-autonomous federal Dominion of Canada. This began an accretion of provinces and territories to the mostly self-governing Dominion to the present ten provinces and three territories forming modern Canada.
In 1931, Canada achieved near-total independence from the United Kingdom with the Statute of Westminster 1931, but at the time, Canada decided to allow the British parliament to temporarily retain the power to amend Canada’s constitution, on request from the Parliament of Canada. With the Constitution Act 1982, Canada took over that authority (as the conclusion of Patriation), removing the last remaining ties of legal dependence on the Parliament of the United Kingdom, giving the country full sovereignty.
Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being the head of state. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries.
Its advanced economy is the eleventh largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada’s long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
Canada is a developed country and has the tenth highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the ninth highest ranking in the Human Development Index. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education.
Canada is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie, and part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G7 (formerly G8), the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.