Canadian Geography - Canada FAQ

Canada is situated in North America and takes up 41 percent of the continent’s territory. With a total area of 9,984,670 sq.km, it is the second largest country in the world, with Russia being the first one. The country is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Both to the south and to the northwest, the country borders with the territory of the United States (contiguous US and Alaska); other neighboring countries include Greenland to the northeast and France (through its overseas collectivity Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland). Canada has claimed the area of the Arctic, standing between 60°W and 141°W longitude to the North Pole following the First World War, but the matter has not been settled in full.

Canada consists of ten provinces: Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, as well as of and three territories: Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. Over 70 percent of the population is concentrated close to the border with the United States. The key difference between provinces and territories is that the latter derive authority from the federal government, whereas the former derive powers straight from the Constitution of Canada.

Canada Map Among the large cities in Canada are Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Ottawa. Toronto is the capital of Ontario and the biggest city in Canada. Populated by more than 2.5 million residents (4.7 million in the GTA), it is the fifth largest municipality on the territory of North America. Toronto is the economic capital of the country and a global financial center. The key economic sectors in Toronto include telecommunications, finance, business services, software production, tourism, aerospace, medical research, and education, among others. Montreal, the second largest city, is situated in Quebec and has a population of more than 1.9 million residents. Montreal is a major center of finance, technology, commerce, pharmaceutical production, tourism, and culture. The capital of Alberta, Edmonton, is inhabited by more than 730 thousand residents and is the second most densely populated provincial capital on the territory of Canada. The city is a governmental, cultural, and educational center, known as ‘the Festival City’.

The country’s topography is quite diverse, mostly due to its large territory. Canada covers vast maritime land and boasts the longest coastline in the world – 202,080 km. The Pacific border is frayed with fjords and channels. The northern regions, close to the Arctic, are covered with ice, which is also a characteristic feature of the Rocky Mountains. Most of the country is covered with Boreal forests (a.k.a Taiga), save the flat Canadian Prairies in the southwest, where the climate fosters the agriculture industry and a great number of grain farms can be found. The most densely populated areas are located in the St. Lawrence plain (the provinces of Ontario and Quebec), close to the Great Lakes. These lands are part of the so-called Canadian Shield, a rock base encompassing Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, some parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada’s population is rather small for its size, only 34 million people inhabit the territory, in contrast to around 145 million in Russia. A large part of the territory is still wilderness. The Rocky Mountains cover a major segment in the west. Most mountains in Canada are found in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon Territory. The highest point is in the Yukon - Mount Logan (6050m). There are more lakes in Canada than anywhere else: 561 lakes with a surface larger than 100 sq.km. Therefore, the country holds most of the fresh water in the world. The major river systems are Mackenzie and the St. Lawrence, the latter being navigable for over 3000 km.


More Canadian Geography articles

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How many geographical regions does Canada have?
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