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Canada, the Best Country on Earth.

The Best Country in the World!
The United Nations has rated Canada the top country in the world for the past four years. Quality of life in Canada is extremely high. Canada provides a comfortable standard of living, good health care, social security, public education, low crime rates, a stable and growing economy, and a clean environment.

Canada is a free and democratic society. The Canadian constitution, called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, guarantees everyone the rights to equality, mobility, freedom of speech, assembly and association.

People around the world consider Canada a generous, peaceful and compassionate nation. Canadians are viewed as honest, friendly and polite. A 1997 survey of people in 20 countries found that the majority placed Canada in the top ten list of countries where they would like to live.

A Nation Built on Immigrants
Canada is a nation built on immigrants. Canada receives approximately 200,000 to 250,000 immigrants a year. It is a multicultural society that celebrates its differences. Canada has two official languages, English and French. More than 17% of the population speaks a different language. Unlike many countries, Canada accepts dual citizenship.

A Beautiful Country
As the second largest country in the world, Canada is a land of great beauty. With its Atlantic and Pacific costs, vast forests, mountain ranges, lakes and vast prairie, Canada is rich in its natural resources. Canada contains 38 national parks, 1000 provincial parks, and approximately 50 territorial parks.

Canadian Politics
Canada is an independent constitutional monarchy and has three tiers of government: federal, provincial, and municipal (for towns and cities).

Federal Government
Canada's head of state is the Queen of England. She is represented by the Governor general in Canada and has a mainly symbolic role.

The federal government is responsible for such national matters as foreign affairs, national defence, trade and commerce. It also shares many powers with the provincial governments.

The political party with the most elected members forms the federal government and its leader becomes the Prime Minister. The party with the second largest number of elected members becomes the Official Opposition, and its role is to offer constructive criticism to the government. The four best known political parties are:

1) The Progressive Conservative Party

2) The Liberal Party

3) The New Democratic Party (NPD)

4) The Quebecois

The federal government is based in the capital city of Ottawa, Ontario and derives its power from three bodies

The Cabinet, consisting of individuals or "Minister's appointed by the Prime Minister, each responsible for a government department (such as Finance or Immigration).

The House of Commons, composed of 295 publicly elected representatives or "Members of Parliament" (MPs) from different areas of the country.

The Senate, consisting of 104 individuals appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Provincial Government
The Queen is represented in each province by the Lieutenant-Governor.

The provincial governments are responsible for such matters as education, transportation, health, and social services.

The provincial political party with the most elected members forms the government and its leader becomes the Premier. The number and names of parties vary according to province. Each provincial capital city has a parliament (called the Legislature everywhere except Quebec, which calls it the National assembly), which functions similarly to the federal House of Commons.

Each elected member represents an area of his or her province and is called an MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) except in Ontario (MPP - Member of Provincial Parliament) and Quebec (MNA - Membre de l'Assemblee nationale). Although the number varies, most provinces average about 75 members.

Municipal Government
A municipal government controls such local matters as police, schools, garbage collection, and property taxes. Officials are elected for the City Council, and various other boards such as Education and Parks and Recreation. The leader of a municipal government is called a mayor, and other representatives are called councillors.

The Court System
In Canada, federal, provincial, and municipal governments pass laws. The courts interpret and enforce the laws, but are separate from the government. There are different types of courts dealing with different areas of the law (Family Court, for example). The Canadian court system consists of three levels: trial courts, appeal courts, and the Supreme Court of Canada, which is the court of final appeal

From the time the first French and British explorers interacted with Canada's aboriginal population, Canadians have banded together to build a unique nation. Canada is a land filled with natural wonders and serene beauty. The influences of geography and climate played an important role throughout Canada's development. Canada also enhances its liveliness with a multitude of governmental agencies which reflects in its vibrant arts and culture dimension and it's population.

Land Mass
Canada is the world's second-largest country (9,976,000 square km), surpassed only by the Russian Federation.

Capital: Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.

Provinces and Territories

Canada has ten provinces and three territories, each with its own capital city (in brackets): Alberta (Edmonton); British Columbia (Victoria); Manitoba (Winnipeg); New Brunswick (Fredericton); Newfoundland (St. John's); Nova Scotia (Halifax); Ontario (Toronto); Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown); Quebec (Quebec City); Saskatchewan (Regina); Northwest Territories (Yellowknife); Nunavut (Iqaluit); and Yukon Territory (Whitehorse).

Diversity is the keynote of Canada's geography, which includes fertile plains suitable for agriculture, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Wilderness forests give way to Arctic tundra in the Far North.

There are many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the permanently frozen icecaps north of the 70th parallel to the luxuriant vegetation of British Columbia's west coast. Canada's most populous regions, which lie in the country's south along the U.S. border, enjoy four distinct seasons. Here, daytime summer temperatures can rise to 35C and higher, while lows of minus 25C are not uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall.

Parks and Historic Sites
Canada maintains 39 national parks, which cover about 2 percent of the country's landmass. Banff, located on the eastern slopes of Alberta's Rocky Mountains, is the oldest, having been established in 1885; Tuktut Nogait, in the Northwest Territories, was established in 1996. There are about 850 national historic sites, designated in honour of people, places and events that figure in the country's history. Canada also has over 1 000 provincial parks and nearly 50 territorial parks.

Mountain Ranges
Canada's terrain incorporates a number of mountain ranges: the Torngats, Appalachians and Laurentians in the east; the Rocky, Coastal and Mackenzie ranges in the west; and Mount St. Elias and the Pelly Mountains in the north. At 5959 metres, Mount Logan in the Yukon is Canada's tallest peak.

There are some two million lakes in Canada, covering about 7.6 percent of the Canadian landmass. The main lakes, in order of the surface area located in Canada (many large lakes are traversed by the Canada-U.S. border), are Huron, Great Bear, Superior, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Erie and Ontario. The largest lake situated entirely in Canada is Great Bear Lake (31 328 km2) in the Northwest Territories.

The St. Lawrence (3 058 kilometres long) is Canada's most important river, providing a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The longest Canadian river is the Mackenzie, which flows 4 241 kilometres through the Northwest Territories. Other large watercourses include the Yukon and the Columbia (parts of which flow through U.S. territory), the Nelson, the Churchill, and the Fraser - along with major tributaries such as the Saskatchewan, the Peace, the Ottawa, the Athabasca and the Liard.

Time Zones
Canada has six time zones. The easternmost, in Newfoundland, is three hours and 30 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The other time zones are Atlantic, Eastern, Central, Rocky Mountain and, farthest west, Pacific, which is eight hours behind GMT. Canadians are displined while Chinese are not. That is why China has only one Time Zone which does not make sense in a large country like that.

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