Canada is located in the northern-most region of North America. Its southern territories run along the northern border of the continental United States. Canada is one of the largest countries in the world, second only to Russia in territorial size. It has a total area of 9.9 million square kilometers (3.8 million square miles). This includes 755,170 square kilometers (291,571 square miles) of water. The country touches 3 oceans—the Atlantic, the Arctic, and the Pacific—and its coastline is 243,791 kilometers (151,473 miles) long. Canada's border with the United States is 8,893 kilometers (5,526 miles) in length and includes a 2,477-kilometer (1,539-mile) border with Alaska. Toronto is the largest city in Canada with a population of 4.3 million. Other major cities include Montreal (3.3 million people), Vancouver (1.8 million people), and Ottawa (1 million people). Located in the southeast corner of the nation, Ottawa is the nation's capital. The climate and geography of Canada vary greatly from temperate in the south to arctic in the north and from islands and plains in the east to mountains in the west.
For its size, Canada has a small population. Although physically it is the second-largest country in the world, its population was only 31,281,092, according to a July 2000 estimate, or just under one-tenth the size of that of the United States. The nation has a low birth rate of 1.64 children born to each woman, or 11.41 births per 1,000 people. The mortality rate is 7.39 deaths per 1,000. However, the infant mortality rate is low with 5.08 deaths per 1,000 live births. Average life expectancy for males is 76.02 years and 83 for females. The population growth rate is moderate at 1.02 percent, although the positive growth rate is chiefly due to immigration . Each year there is an average of 6.2 immigrants for every 1,000 people. Canada has a liberal immigration policy and it goes to great lengths to accept refugees and asylum seekers from around the world. In 2000, Canada allowed 41,800 asylum seekers to settle in the country.
Despite the vastness of the nation, 90 percent of the Canadian population is located within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the U.S. border. With the exception of some notable groups, most of the nation's people live in urban areas. By 2000, 75 percent of Canadians lived in cities or towns. The nation is ethnically diverse. People of British ancestry make up 28 percent of the population, while the French comprise 23 percent. Other Europeans, mainly Eastern Europeans, make up 15 percent. There is a small but visible Native American population (2 percent). About 6 percent of the population is divided between people of Asian, Arab, African, and Hispanic descent, while the remaining 26 percent of Canadians are of mixed ancestry. Canada is almost evenly divided between Protestants and Roman Catholics. There are deep divisions between the English-speaking Canadians and the French-speakers who are concentrated in the province of Quebec. The people of Quebec have a distinct culture and the government accepts and even encourages efforts to maintain Quebec's identity. Because of these divisions, the nation has 2 main official languages, English and French. The government also recognizes several Native American languages. However, tensions between the English and French have led to repeated efforts by nationalists
There are other regional differences in Canada that are similar to the differences in the United States. People in the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island have a similar culture to those in the New England region of the United States, while the western regions of both nations are also closely related with numerous ranches and farms. Also like the United States, the population of Canada is aging. The fastest growing segment of the population is over age 65, which now makes up 13 percent of the population. Meanwhile, 19 percent of the population is under the age of 15.
Mining and fuel extraction and production accounted for 4.5 percent of Canada's GDP or some US$36.1 billion. Fuel exploration and production dominate this sector, but the processing of other types of mineral resources has grown significantly. In 1996, the top non-fuel minerals were gold with production of US$2.05 billion, copper US$1.47 billion, nickel US$1.45 billion, and zinc US$1.25 billion. There was also significant production of lead and iron. There are about 50 major gold mines in Canada and the country leads the world in technologies which extract gold from rock and soil. The nation is the world's largest producer of zinc and the fifth largest producer of lead. Among the provinces, Ontario is the top producer of non-fuel mineral resources, followed by Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland. Each year Canadian companies spend over US$600 million to find or develop new mines and fuel supplies. However, environmental concerns and increased regulation have led many Canadian mining companies to shift exploration elsewhere. Latin America is becoming a favorite choice for Canadian mining companies.
While overall mineral production is dispersed throughout Canada, fuel production is concentrated in the west, with a few major exceptions. Canada is a major exporter of energy and fuels. In 1998, natural gas was the main export with 34.2 percent of total, petroleum was next at 28.6 percent, hydroelectricity at 20.7 percent, coal at 11.4 percent, and atomic energy at 5.1 percent. The United States has traditionally been Canada's largest market for energy exports, purchasing 90 percent of the nation's fuel and energy exports. Energy production accounts for 8 percent of the nation's economy. Approximately 65 percent of energy production is in Alberta, which is also the home of the nation's oil industry. The number-two producer was British Columbia at 13 percent, followed by Saskatchewan at 8 percent, and Quebec at 5 percent. The atomic industry is centered in Quebec.
The manufacturing sector is dominated by the auto industry. Including imports, Canadians purchased 1.4 million new vehicles in 1999. That same year, there were 2.8 million new cars and light trucks produced in Canada, or 4.5 percent of the world's total output. About 90 percent of Canadian-built cars are exported to the United States. In 1999, exports to the United States alone equaled US$64.7 billion. Exports to the EU ranked second and amounted to US$299 million. Canada is the world's ninth-largest market for the purchase of new automobiles. In 1999, the auto parts market in Canada was worth US$33.8 billion. Of this total, US$22.7 billion worth of parts were produced in Canada. Canadian companies exported US$18 billion of the parts produced. The United States is both the main market for Canadian auto exports and the main supplier of the nation's imports. The strength of the auto sector is founded on the U.S.-Canada Auto Pact of 1965 which provided for free trade in cars and car parts. The pact also served as the model for later trade agreements between the 2 countries.
Electronics and electronic components constitute the main growth industry in Canada. These products include telecommunications equipment, computer software, home electronics equipment, and industrial and automotive electronics. Most electronics producers are located in Ontario and Quebec, although a growing number of firms are building plants in the south of British Columbia. Total production of electronics exceeded US$5.2 billion in 2000 and Canada had US$3.3 billion in exports. This does not include computers and computer hardware equipment, which accounted for an additional US$6.7 billion in production and US$6.4 billion in exports. One of the fastest growing electronics markets in Canada is that of personal communications, including mobile phones and pagers. Since 1995, this market has expanded 150 percent. In 1999, there were 3 million mobile phones in use.
There is a variety of other manufacturers in Canada. Aircraft and aircraft parts provide US$7.9 billion to the nation's GDP and some US$7.3 billion in exports. This makes Canada the world's fifth-largest producer of aerospace products and estimates are that the nation will take over the number-three spot by 2004 as the industry continues to expand. The main products are airframes, which form the main body of jet aircraft, and engines. Some of the major Canadian aerospace firms include Lockheed Martin Canada, Canadian Marconi Company (CMC), and Sextant. Canada's Bombardier company, with over US$10 billion in revenues in 2001, is a major producer of business jets, and is the world's third-largest civil aircraft producer, behind Boeing and Airbus. Canada also has a major building products industry which in 2000 produced goods worth US$29 billion. It produces goods such as lumber, plywood, and shingles. About three-quarters of these materials are used in the domestic construction market. The other quarter is exported. Canada also imports a large amount of construction and building materials. The majority of these imports come from the United States (75 percent) and the remainder from Asian nations. Furniture and furniture accessories account for US$6 billion worth of products annually, including US$3.4 billion in exports. A staggering 97 percent of Canada's furniture exports go to the United States. The plastics industry manufactured some US$4.8 billion in products in 2000 while environmental concerns have created a thriving pollution control industry with goods worth US$4.3 billion that same year. Other major industrial sectors include medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper products, and sporting goods and recreational equipment. Canadian sporting goods manufacturers have strong brand identification for a number of products, including ice hockey equipment, snowboards, and swim goggles.
The banking sector in Canada is highly developed and, following reforms in the 1990s, it is open to foreign investment and the establishment of foreign-based banks in the country. However, it was not until 1999 that foreign banks were allowed to open branches in Canada without first establishing a subsidiary company (a local or domestic branch of a foreign firm that is incorporated in the country in which it operates, not in the country of the parent company). In January of 2000, Canada had about 8,200 bank branches and close to 15,500 automated teller machines (ATMs). This includes 11 domestic and 42 foreign-owned banks. However, Canada's banking system is dominated by 6 domestic banks which together control about 90 percent of the nation's total assets. Even though foreign banks are now allowed to enter Canada's banking market, most choose to concentrate on peripheral services, including credit cards or commercial lending, because of the domination of the 6 banks which prevent any real market openings in retail banking.
Banking and financial services represent 5 percent of the country's GDP, and provide over Can$22 billion a year in payroll. Each year they also provide Can$50 billion in exports. Access to foreign markets has become a critical component in the success of this sector. For instance, 5 of the country's largest banks each have approximately 30 percent of their assets overseas. In addition, the 2 largest Canadian insurance companies make more profits abroad than they do in Canada. The nation's 4 largest insurance companies are Mutual Life Assurance of Canada, Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, and the Canadian Life Assurance Company.
Retail sales in Canada in 1999 were Can$260 billion (including automotive sales). Excluding car sales, food was the number-one product sold in retail outlets (mainly supermarkets). Food sales totaled Can$59 billion in 1999 with Can$55 billion of that sold in supermarkets and grocery stores. Clothing was number-two with Can$14.3 billion in sales, followed closely by drug and medicine sales with Can$13.3 billion. Supermarkets had the highest sales volume, followed by general merchandise stores and department stores.
Unlike the United States, Canada's retail sector is not dominated by large chain stores. Independent stores make up 61 percent of the market, chain stores comprise 32 percent, and department stores 7 percent. Stores with 1-4 employees make up 53 percent of the sector, shops with 5-9 employees comprise 23 percent, and those with more than 50 employees only account for 3 percent. There are regional differences in the retail trade. Ontario leads the nation in retail sales with Can$7.9 billion in sales. Quebec is number-two with sales of Can$3.3 billion. In Newfoundland, there are 2 grocery stores per every 1,000 people, but in Ontario there are only 0.5 per 1,000. One potential problem for retail is the increasing number of part-time workers employed in the sector. In 1999, 32 percent of retail workers were part-time. Because they work part-time, these workers usually do not have benefits and therefore must rely on government social services for health care and retirement.
Canada ranks number-nine in the world in terms of tourist revenues, and has 2.2 percent of the world's total tourism market. In 1998, there were 93.3 million tourists who had overnight stays in Canada. This included 18.8 million foreign visitors and 74.4 million domestic tourists. The majority of domestic tourists traveled to overnight destinations within their home province (70.8 million) while only a small number of Canadians stayed overnight in a different province (3.4 million). In 2000, tourism employed 524,300 people. In 1999, tourism receipts amounted to Can$50.1 billion or 6.2 percent of GDP.
Canada has no territories or colonies.
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Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Canada. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.
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Canadian dollar (Can$). One Canadian dollar equals 100 cents. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents as well as 1 and 2 dollar coins. Paper currency comes in denominations of Can$1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100.
Motor vehicles and parts, newsprint, wood pulp, timber, crude petroleum, machinery, natural gas, aluminum, telecommunications equipment, electricity.
Machinery and equipment, crude oil, chemicals, motor vehicles and parts, durable consumer goods, electricity.
US$722.3 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).
Exports: US$277 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$259.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.).