Canada has many things going for it. The country is the largest in North America with the highest number of lakes in the world, has over 70% of the world’s crude bitumen, has the world’s longest coastline, and it is home to the world’s most apologetic citizens. These facts are but a few that people do not know about the country.
1. Canada originates from "Kanata."
The First Nations, European explorers, and European rulers have all left their mark on the names of Canada and the provinces and territories. The name “Canada” does not have English origins but Huron-Iroquois origins. The name is derived from “Kanata” a Huron-Iroquois word that translates to “village.” Jacques Cartier coined the name in 1535 after locals welcomed him to Stadacona, a village found in modern-day Quebec City. Cartier would later use the word to refer to the surrounding regions, with the name “Canada” appearing on maps in the mid-16th century.
2. Canada's largest city is not the capital city.
Ottawa is recognized as the Canada's capital city, a title it had held since 1857 when Queen Victoria named it “The Province of Canada’s permanent capital.” However, the city is not the largest in Canada based on the population as it is home to about 0.94 million people. The distinction of Canada’s largest city belongs to Ontario’s capital, Toronto, which has a population of over 2.7 million inhabitants. Based on population, Ottawa is ranked as the fourth largest city in the country, exceeded in size by Montreal (the second-largest city) and Calgary (the third-largest city). When looking at Canada's population centres (formally called urban areas), the region of Ottawa-Gatineau falls even lower ranking as the sixth-largest area in Canada behind Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
3. Canada has the world's longest international border and coastline.
The country has the longest non-military border on earth. The US-Canada border is Canada’s sole international land border and measures 5,525 miles in length. The border the country shares with America’s state of Alaska is 1,528 miles in length. An interesting feature found along the border is an international library that sits on the border near Quebec and Derby Line. The country also has the world’s longest coastline. With a total length of 125,567 miles, it would take a healthy person four-and-a-half days of non-stop walking to cover the coastline’s entire length. For comparison, the second-longest coastline belongs to Norway and is 36,122 miles in length.
4. Canada is the coldest country in North America.
The reason behind the low temperatures experienced in the country is due to its proximity to the North Pole. The territories of Yukon and Nunavut are some of the coldest places on earth. These two locations have witnessed extremely low temperatures found nowhere else in North America. An example is Snag, Yukon which on February 3rd, 1947 recorded a temperature of -63°C which is equivalent to the temperatures recorded on the surface of Mars. Eureka, Nunavut is recognized as the coldest place on the continent based on average annual temperatures which average at -19.7°C.
5. Canada is huge.
Canada covers a total area of 3.855 million square miles. The immense size makes the country the largest in the Western Hemisphere and second-largest country on earth (only exceeded in size by Russia). The size of Canada is evident in the fact that it straddles six time zones. The country is larger than the entire European Union. For comparison, Canada is 15 times larger than the largest country in the EU, France, which covers an area of 0.247 million square miles. There are territories in Canada that are larger than countries. An example is Nunavut which covers an area of 0.808 million square miles which is larger than Mexico.
6. Canada is home to vast forests.
The forest cover in Canada is unrivaled in North America, with its forests covering more than 40% of its total land area. The country’s forests cover a total area of 979 million hectares and make Canada home to the second-largest forest cover in the world (again only exceeded by Russia). The forests in the country represent 10% of all the world’s forests and more than 30% of all Boreal forests on earth. New Brunswick leads as the province with the largest forest cover in the country, with forests covering 85% of its total area.
7. Canada has stunningly beautiful and immense national parks.
Canada is home to about 39 national parks and reserves which cover a combined area of 126,718 square miles or 3.3% of the country’s land area. The largest of the national parks in the country is Wood Buffalo. Located partly in the Northwest Territories and partly in Alberta, this national park covers an area of 17,364 square miles making it larger than Switzerland. Another national park known for its large size is the Nahanni National Park Reserve. Also situated in the Northwest Territories, this national park is larger than Israel, with an area of 13,027 square miles.
8. Canada has thousands of lakes.
Canada has the largest number of lakes of any country on earth. No one truly knows the exact number of lakes in the country, but most researchers agree that the total number of lakes is close to two million. Majority of the lakes in the country are small lakes measuring less than 62 square miles in area. An estimated 31,752 lakes are major lakes. The largest of the lakes in Canada is the Great Bear Lake which covers an area of 19,466 square miles. Lake Huron and Lake Superior are considerably larger, but they straddle the US-Canada border.
9. Canada boats of ample natural resources.
Canada rarely comes up as one of the world’s oil-rich countries. However, the country has the largest recoverable deposits of crude bitumen on earth, six time more than the amount found in Russia. The estimated amount of the recoverable crude bitumen in the country is more than 176.8 billion barrels which represent 70.8% of the global crude bitumen deposits which are thought to be over 249.67 billion barrels. Canada is also recognized as the world’s largest producer of potash. Kazakhstan only exceeds the country's annual production of uranium in the world. Canada is also a major producer of aluminum, nickel, cobalt, and gemstones, having the third-largest production of these minerals in the world.
10. Canada has an “Apology Act.”
The common stereotype placed on Canadians is that they are overly apologetic and will apologize for trivial things. However, the fact is that the country passed the Apology Act in 2009. The purpose of the act was ensure that apologies could not be regarded as admissions of guilt or fault for insurance purposes or in a court of law.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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