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Canada Culture, Geography and History
Culture and Customs of Canada
Anyone who has been to Canada will know that the Canadian stereotype is actually quite accurate. Well known for being welcoming, friendly, funny, hockey-mad, adventure-loving, sports enthusiasts, Canadians generally do a good job of living up to their reputation.
Large cities like Vancouver are a cultural melting pot of nationalities, and attitudes towards different ways of life are generally quite liberal. This can be seen in the variety of cuisines, shops and people that populate the city.
Known for loving the outdoors and enjoying adventure, both city-dwelling and rural-living Canadians typically remain active with hiking, cycling, canoeing and snow boarding all popular past times, no matter where they live.
The Eastern side of Canada has a decidedly different quality to the West Coast, and retains much of its colonial heritage with the French language being widely spoken and French-influenced food and music being popular.
Canada is also home to native people, with the people of the First Nations and the Inuit in the north calling Canada home. Like many indigenous people and tribes around the world, the people of the First Nations have an ongoing struggle in retaining and protecting their customs and heritage. Modern influences have had a negative impact on their culture and lifestyle, yet despite this, many still actively live and promote a traditional way of life, through the making of tribal music, handicrafts, art and clothing.
Geography and Environment of Canada
Canada is BIG! This is clear when looking at a map but even more obvious when travelling in Canada (after driving all day you could still be in the same province). With such a large land mass, it comes as no surprise that the environment varies widely depending on which area of Canada you are travelling in.
Sitting in between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, Canada shares a long land border with the United States in the South, and Alaska (US) and Greenland in the North. Mountains, forests and woodlands feature heavily throughout the country, with relatively flat prairies and plains dotted around also, providing arable land. There is much ice and tundra in the Arctic North, with only a few communities choosing to live there.
Although a sparsely populated country, the cities of Canada are well-populated and built-up, although not overly crowded or busy. Expect skyscrapers, malls, the odd traffic jam and all the modern conveniences expected of contemporary cities. Parks, trees and public-art beautify most cities in Canada, and provide sweet relief to travellers and locals alike. Smaller communities exist in more remote areas, with quaint villages on both coasts relying on fishing, tourism and agriculture as main sources of income. Expect a slower pace of life, low-density housing and much less buzz than when in the city.
History and Government of Canada
Canada has been occupied for centuries by different native tribes (some nomadic), who lived their lives with a strong connection to their ancestors and the earth. These people have recently become known as First Nations people. Living by hunting, gathering and fishing, the ability of First Nations people to live in a traditional way was greatly diminished once the French and British settlers arrived in Canada in the late 1500s. With colonisation, many First Nations people became dispossessed, with loss of land to development and the widespread hunting of bison creating food and land shortages.
France and England fiercely competed for Canadian territory over the years, with the lucrative trade of fur being a commodity worth fighting for. After hundreds of years of fighting, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, making Canada officially a British Territory.
The British North America Act was passed in 1867 and with this, Canada became a self-governing state. After suffering major loss of troops in World War I, Canada was granted relative independence from Britain in 1931. Currently, Canada is still a member of the Commonwealth but the British monarch only retains a ceremonial role in the running of the country. More recently, Canada has continued to flourish as a nation, with wide-scale immigration leading to increased multiculturalism and a resource boom strengthening the economy. Playing host to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Canada is increasingly becoming known as a liberal, tolerant nation - home to legalised gay marriage, universal health care and some of the most liveable cities in the world.
Canada at a glance
- Ottawa (population 808,000)
- 34 million
- English, French
- (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin), Type B (American 3-pin)
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