Canadian Way of Life
Canada consistently ranks among the best places in the world to live in numerous studies. In fact, in 2017, Canada was ranked the second best country in the world by US News & World Report. This is due in large part to its access to education, high life expectancy (thanks to its universal health care system), and low crime and violence rates. No wonder, then, that more and more international students are choosing to study in Canada.
Canada is perhaps most famous for its natural beauty. When people picture Canada, they often visualize open spaces, impressive mountains, and beautiful forests and lakes. This is far from all that Canada has to offer, though. Canada is also known as a modern, progressive nation with open-minded citizens who are widely regarded as friendly and polite.
Canada has a population of about 36.5 million. The majority of Canadians are of European descent, and are most descendents of early French and British colonists, as well as later immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. However, the second half of the 20th century saw a large increase in the number of immigrants from Asia, the Caribbean and Africa. In the 2011 census, there were more than 260 different ethnic origins reported across Canada. Canada is also home to a large aboriginal population made up of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Canada is an immense country that is extremely varied in its people, landscape, climate, because of this, the Canadian way of life can also vary greatly from one individual to the next. However, Canadians do share important values such as pride, a belief in equality and diversity, and respect for all individuals. It is these values that make Canada a friendly, peace-loving, and secure place in which to live. Canadians practice many different religions, and over 20 percent claim no religious affiliation.
Canada is located in the northern half of the North American continent, and is the second-largest country in the world following Russia. Despite its impressive size, the majority of the population lives within a few hundred kilometers of the southern border.
Canada has over two million lakes, and vast mountain ranges that include the Torngats, Appalachians, and the Rocky Mountains. The most important river in Canada is the St. Lawrence River, which is 3,058 km long and provides a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
When you picture Canada, chances are you see a frozen wasteland. Rest assured that this is not accurate. In fact, Canada’s climate is as varied as its people, depending on where in the country you choose to study. Although much of the north has a particularly harsh arctic climate, that area is mostly uninhabited. The most populous regions of Canada, which lie in the southern regions along the US border, see four distinct seasons a year. Although winter lasts longer than summer in most of the country, the summers are quite hot. Rainfall varies from light to moderate, and there are heavy snowfalls in some areas.
Winters are less severe in the south because of the moderating influence of the Great Lakes. Southern summers are longer, but more humid, with temperatures averaging at about 20ºC from mid-June to mid-September. In the winter, lows of -25ºC are not uncommon. Temperatures in spring and fall tend to be more moderate.
Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. The provinces are, from west to east: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador. The territories are the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory.
Despite the impressive size of the country, the majority of Canada’s population lives in a concentrated area of cities and towns within 100 kilometers of the US border. The population density in Canada is one of the lowest in the world, at 3.9 persons per square kilometer.
As of 2017, the largest cities in Canada are:
- Toronto (6.2 million)
- Montreal (4.1 million)
- Vancouver (2.5 million)
- Calgary (1.4 million)
Canada has two official languages: English and French. English is the mother tongue of about 59% of Canadians, and French the first language of about 23%. Eighteen percent of Canadians either have more than one mother tongue or a mother tongue that is not English or French.
The Official Language Act makes English and French the official languages of Canada and provides for special measures aimed at enhancing the vitality and supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority communities. Canada’s federal institutions reflect the equality of its two official languages by offering bilingual services.
The third most common native language in Canada is Chinese, followed by Panjabi, Spanish, Arabic, and Tagalog. The most common Aboriginal languages are Cree, Inuktitut, and Innu/Montagnais.