|Canada is the world’s second largest country after
Russia. It is simply enormous, measuring almost 4 million square miles,
or nearly 10 million square kilometres in area and has more lakes and
inland waters than any other country.
||Some of the lakes are so huge that you can stand on the shore
and imagine you are standing at the edge of an ocean. The provinces are so
vast that it can take over 24 hours to drive from one border to the next.
And all this space is home to around 32 million people, little more than
half the population of the United Kingdom. Most are concentrated within 160
km of the US border.
Canada is renowned for its stunning scenery, which attracts millions of
visitors every year. Landscapes with vast plains, towering peaks and great
glaciers, bordered by vast oceans to the west, north and east. A big country
and home to big animals: grizzly bears, moose, polar bears and humpback
whales. A paradise for photographers.
Canada was inhabited by various groups of aboriginal people for thousands of
years before the British and French began to settle the country in the late
15th century. It is now a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional
monarchy with Queen Elisabeth II as its head of state.
Canada has two official languages: English and
French. Approximately 58% of
people speak English only, 22% French only, 17% speak both and the remaining
3% speak various aboriginal languages. Quebec has a strong French-speaking
identity and distinguishes its culture from the English Canadian culture.
Canada is one of the world’s wealthiest nations and one of the top ten
trading nations. The major importers of Canadian goods are the USA, UK and
Japan. The country’s natural resources, such as oil and timber, provide its
inhabitants with an enviable standard of living.
The biggest problem for the visitor to Canada is deciding where to go.
Here are just a few of the options:
In the north is Hudson Bay, where you can see polar bears and beluga
whales, or some of the 300 species of birds. There are 110,000 lakes in
Manitoba, which are perfect for fishing, hiking, or just photographing.
The city of Winnipeg is steeped in history and was once the centre of
the fur trade. It offers 30 museums and 100 ethnically varied
restaurants. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Art Gallery add
to the cultural experience of Manitoba’s capital city.
With the Rocky Mountains to the west, Alberta is one of the most
stunningly beautiful provinces in Canada. It offers both prairie
grasslands and lakes and mountains in summer, and skiing at six Rocky
Mountain resorts in winter. Its provincial capital, Calgary, hosts the
annual “Stampede”. Banff is worth a visit for its National Park, and
Jasper is a delightful small town further north with its own National
Park. Finally you should not miss the chance to see the Northern Lights
while in Alberta.
Universally known as “BC”, this is the most westerly province in Canada
and it contains the wild and exciting Pacific Rim National Park.
Vancouver was voted the best city in the world to live in by its
residents, and Victoria on Vancouver Island is charmingly reminiscent of
British Victorian Colonial life. The train called “the Rocky
Mountaineer” runs daily through the Rockies – a spectacular journey that
gives you the chance to take some beautiful photos from the observation
cars. Go whale watching from Victoria, or visit a winery in the Okanagan
Valley; ski at Whistler, or learn about the “gold rush” in Barkerville;
experience First Nation history and culture at numerous sites in BC:
this province really does have something for everyone.
Other regions and cities of Canada are well worth a visit too: don’t
miss the Niagara Falls in Ontario, or the multi cultural city of
Toronto, Canada’s capital. Quebec offers French culture and dining, and
Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories allow you to really
experience the vastness of Canada in completely different landscapes.
Montreal is modern and sophisticated, while Labrador in the far north is
one of the last great wildernesses in the world.
In fact if you spent your whole life exploring this varied and endlessly
fascinating country, you would not run out of new and exciting places to