Canada may be the second largest country in the world, covering 9.9 million square kilometers, but when it comes to the geography of Canada, most people know very little about it. Often, it seems to take a back seat to the USA and gets lumped in with the title of “North America” – which it is certainly a part of – yet is very much its own country.
Stretching from the Pacific Ocean in the west, to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, north to the Arctic Circle, and south below northern USA, Canada is made up of 10 provinces, and 3 territories:
- The Maritime Provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland/Labrador
- The Prairie Provinces: Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
- The Central Provinces: Québec and Ontario
- On the west coast lies British Columbia – between the northern Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains.
- At the far North of Canada sit Canada’s three Territories: Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.
Although Canada is such a vast land, its population is only about 34 million, which is quite small considering its geographical area. It is interesting to know that most of the population lives within about 160 km of the USA border, the longest land border in the world, and only about 25% of Canadians do not live in a major city or town.
Four out of the five Great Lakes, which constitute about 20% of the world’s fresh water, have borders with both Canada and the USA: Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The fifth is Lake Michigan, which sits entirely within the USA.
The geography of Canada is very unique in the context of North America as it is simultaneously flat and rolling. The eastern geography contains mountain ranges that, while low in altitude, are some of the oldest in the world – Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, the Appalachians, as well as boasting some of North America’s best ski hills – while the western geography of Canada contains higher mountain ranges, including the Rockies, and the Saint Elias Mountains (the second highest in the USA and Canada).
It is an abundance of untouched land, both beautiful and mysterious – perhaps that why it has been nicknamed “The Great White North”!
For more information about living and traveling in Canada, check out these helpful articles and links:
Photo Credit: Wikipedia – Map of Canada