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A simple introduction about Canada

In size, Canada is the second largest country on earth. In terms of economic power, it is a member of the Big seven, the world’s leading industrial nations, ranking along with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Japan. Canada plays an active role in international affairs, often taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions and spearheading aid and development programs. Its scenery of mountains, oceans, forests and prairies is spectacular. It has a lively and rich culture, with many world famous actors, pop stars and writers. In annual “quality of life” surveys produced by the United Nation each year, Canada regularly is rated as having the best standard of living in the world because of its health care, education, clean environment, social welfare and so on.

In contrast to its physical size, economic power and international prestige, Canada’s population is very small. The current population is a little more than 30 million—about the same as two Beijing cities! This paradox of having a small number of people in a very large, resource-rich area gives rise to some of the misleading perceptions people have about Canada.

Most people do not know very much about Canada. Mention the country and usually one of two images will spring to mind. On the one hand, you might picture a sparsely populated, frozen country where people live in igloos, eat fish, hunt bears and constantly endure snow and cold. On the other, you might think Canada is a country that is ”just like America.” Even Americans are inclined to think of Canada as the 51st state, a part of America that through some quirk of history is not one (or more) of the United States states.

It is easy to understand how such misleading impressions of Canada have become engrained. It is true that most of Canada lies very far north. Large tracts of the country are wild, virtually unpopulated Arctic tundra, full of dangerous animals and freezing temperatures. But most Canadians live in the south of the country, along the 49th parallel: about 90 per cent of the population is estimated to live within a few hundred kilometers of the Canadian-Americans border, in an climate that is much less extreme.

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