CANADA (pronounced /ˈkænədə/) is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area and shares the world's longest common border with the United States to the south and northwest.
The land occupied by Canada wasinhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal people. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled along, the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominionof four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
A federation comprising ten provinces and three territories,Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual and multicultural country, with both English and French as official languages both at the federal level and in the province of New Brunswick. Canada is a technologically advanced, and industrialized, developed country. It has a diversified economy reliant upon itsabundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G8, NATO, OECD, WTO, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Francophonie, the OAS, APEC, and the United Nations.
Main article: Name of Canada
The name Canada comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, kanata, meaning"village" or "settlement". In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier towards the village of Stadacona. Cartier later used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village, but also the entire area subject to Donnacona (the chief at Stadacona); by 1545, European books and maps had begun referring tothis region as Canada.
From the early 17th century onwards, that part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes was named Canada, an area that was later split into two British colonies, Upper Canada and Lower Canada, until their re-unification as the Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was adopted asthe legal name for the new country, and Dominion was conferred as the country's title; combined, the term Dominion of Canada was in common usage until the 1950s. Thereafter, as Canada asserted its political autonomy from Britain, the federal government increasingly used simply Canada on state documents and treaties, a change that was reflected in the renaming of the national holiday fromDominion Day to Canada Day in 1982.
Main articles: History of Canada, Timeline of Canadian history, and Territorial evolution of Canada
First Nation and Inuit traditions maintain that indigenous people have resided on their lands since the beginning of time, while archaeological studies support a human presence in the northern Yukon from 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontariofrom 9,500 years ago.
The fur trade was Canada's most important industry until the 19th century.
Europeans first arrived when the Vikings settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows around AD 1000; following the failure of that colony, there was no further attempt at North American exploration until 1497, when John Cabot explored Canada's Atlantic coast for England,...