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Canada

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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:

Manitoba
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.

Alberta
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.
British Columbia
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 visit!



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