Canada country profile

  • Published
Map of Canada

The world's second-largest country by surface but relatively small in terms of population, Canada punches above its weight in economic terms.

A federation of former British colonies, Canada follows the British pattern of parliamentary democracy. Ties with the US are now vital, especially in terms of trade, but Canada often goes its own way.

Both English and French enjoy official status, and mainly French-speaking Quebec - where pressure for full sovereignty has abated in recent years - has wide-ranging cultural autonomy. Indigenous peoples make up around 4% of the population.

Canada is one of world's top trading nations - and one of its richest. Alongside a dominant service sector, Canada also has vast oil reserves and is a major exporter of energy, food and minerals.


  • Capital: Ottawa
  • Area: 9,984,670 sq km
  • Population: 39.2 million
  • Languages: English, French
  • Life expectancy: 79 years (men) 83 years (women)


Head of state: King Charles III, represented by a governor general

Prime minister: Justin Trudeau

Image source, Reuters

Justin Trudeau - son of Pierre Trudeau, who dominated Canadian politics in the 1970s - won a third election victory for his Liberal Party in the September 2021 federal elections.

It is Trudeau's second minority government. The results were little changed from the 2019 federal election.] The Liberals won the most seats at 160; as this fell short of the 170 seats needed for a majority in the House of Commons, they formed a minority government with support from other parties.

The Liberals set a record for the lowest vote share of a party that would go on to form government, winning 32.6% of the popular vote, while losing the popular vote to the Conservatives as they did in 2019.

The Conservatives led by Erin O'Toole won 119 seats, two fewer than their result in 2019, and continued as the official opposition.


Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Toronto's CN Tower - used for TV and radio broadcasts - is an internationally renowned Canadian landmark

Canada has a long history of public broadcasting and a lively commercial media sector. The public Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) runs national radio and TV networks in French and English, as well as services for indigenous people in the north.

The Canadian media are free to present a wide range of views and opinions. Quotas exist for broadcasts of Canadian material.


Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The promise of gold lured tens of thousands to the Yukon, in the northwest, in the 19th century

1583 - Newfoundland becomes England's first overseas colony.

1627 - Company of New France established to govern and exploit "New France" - France's North American colonies.

1763 - Under the Treaty of Paris, Britain acquires all French colonies east of the Mississippi, including New France, which becomes the colony of Quebec.

1867 - British North America Act unites Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the Dominion of Canada.

1885 - Canadian Pacific railroad is completed.

1931 - Statute of Westminster grants British dominions, including Canada, complete autonomy.

1939 - World War II: Canadian forces are active in Italy, Europe, the Atlantic and elsewhere.

1982 - The UK transfers its remaining final legal powers over Canada, which adopts its new constitution, including a charter of rights.

1995 - A referendum in Quebec rejects independence by a margin of only 1%.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Founded by the French in 1608, Quebec City is one of North America's oldest European settlements

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