Canada is a nation in North America’s northern hemisphere. Its 10 provinces and three territories stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, spanning 9.98 million square kilometers (3.85 million square miles), making it the world’s second biggest nation in terms of total size and fourth largest in terms of land area. The border between Canada and the United States is the world’s longest land border. The bulk of the nation has very cold winters, while summers are pleasant in the south. Canada is a sparsely populated country, with the bulk of its geographical area covered by forest, tundra, and the Rocky Mountains. Around four-fifths of the country’s 36 million inhabitants reside in metropolitan areas along the southern border. Ottawa is the capital, while Toronto is the biggest city; other important cities include Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Quebec City, Winnipeg, and Hamilton.
Canada has been inhabited by different Aboriginal peoples for millennia. British and French claims to the region began in the 16th century, with the French establishing the colony of Canada in 1537. As a result of numerous wars, the United Kingdom acquired and lost territory within British North America until it was left with what is now largely known as Canada in the late 18th century. On July 1, 1867, the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia united under the British North America Act to create the semi-autonomous federal Dominion of Canada. This marked the beginning of the accretion of provinces and territories to the largely self-governing Dominion, eventually resulting in the 10 provinces and three territories that comprise contemporary Canada.
Canada gained near-total independence from the United Kingdom in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster, and complete sovereignty in 1982 with the Canada Act, which severed the last remaining legal links to the United Kingdom’s Parliament. Canada is a parliamentary democracy with a federal structure and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. At the federal level, the nation is officially multilingual. It is one of the world’s most ethnically and culturally diverse nations, the result of widespread immigration from a variety of other countries. Its sophisticated economy, which ranks tenth in the world, is based mostly on rich natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada’s long and complicated connection with the United States has had a profound effect on the economics and culture of the country.
Canada is a developed nation with the tenth greatest nominal per capita income and the ninth highest Human Development Index rating in the world. It is ranked among the top countries in the world in terms of government openness, civil rights, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. Canada is a Commonwealth realm member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a Francophonie member, and a member of a number of significant international and intergovernmental institutions and groupings, including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G8, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.