The world’s second-largest country by total area!
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean. Canada is the world’s second-largest country by total area, and its common border with the United States is the longest land border in the world.
Canada is a federal state that is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level.
The name Canada comes from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata, meaning “village” or “settlement”. In the 17th and early 18th century, Canada referred to the part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes. The area was later split into two British colonies, Upper Canada and Lower Canada. They were re-unified as the Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country.
Canada is a federation composed of ten provinces and three territories. Canada has a diverse makeup of nationalities and cultures, and has constitutional protection for policies that promote multiculturalism. Historically Canada has been influenced by British, French, and aboriginal cultures and traditions. Its national symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and Aboriginal sources. The use of the maple leaf as a Canadian symbol dates to the early 18th century.
The Arms of Canada, also known as the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada or formally as the Arms of Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada, is, since 1921, the official coat of arms of the Canadian monarch and thus also of Canada. It is closely modeled after the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom with distinctive Canadian elements replacing or added to those derived from the British.
The maple leaves in the shield were originally drawn vert (green) but were redrawn gules (red) in 1957 and a circlet of the Order of Canada was added to the arms for limited use in 1987. The shield design forms the monarch’s royal standard and is also found on the Canadian Red Ensign. The Flag of the Governor General of Canada, which formerly used the shield over the Union Flag, now uses the crest of the arms on a blue field.
Other places and informational links for Canada:
Please visit the “Get in” section of Wikivoyage Canada for more extensive entry information.
If you are traveling by plane, you will most likely arrive in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver. Other airports of interest to visitors are Halifax, St. John’s, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Kelowna, and Victoria.
Canada has a land border with only one country. So, if you are arriving by car, you will be entering from the United States via Canada’s Southern border with the lower 48 states or the western border with Alaska.
Traffic laws are a provincial matter in Canada, so they may be different from place to place. For example, making a right turn on a red light is legal in Ontario, provided there is no oncoming traffic, but illegal in some parts of Quebec.
Via Rail is Canada’s national passenger rail service. Amtrak provides connecting rail service from the U.S.A. to Toronto from New York via Niagara Falls, Montreal from New York and Vancouver from Seattle via Bellingham. The train can be an inexpensive way to get into Canada.
In British Columbia, you can enter Canada by ferry from Alaska and Washington. Several cruise lines run cruises between the eastern United States and Halifax. International passengers will be required to pass through customs in their port of arrival.
English and French are the only two official languages in Canada, though many other languages are spoken among immigrants or Canada’s native peoples. All communications and services provided from the federal government are available in both official languages. Most Canadians are functionally monolingual, although some parts of the country have both English and French speakers. Over a quarter of Canadians are bilingual or multilingual. Many people in Montreal are at least conversationally bilingual.
Canada’s currency is the Canadian dollar (symbol: $ proper abbreviation is CAD), commonly referred to simply as a “dollar”, or “buck” (slang). Canadian coins are of 1¢ (penny, phased out in early 2013 but still accepted as legal tender), 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25¢ (quarter), $1 (loonie) and $2 (toonie). If you are planning to travel from the U.S.A. to Canada or Canada to the United States, you should check the exchange rate. The CAD and USD are separate currencies.