The world’s second-largest country by surface but relatively small in terms of population, Canada punches above its weight in economic terms.
A federation of former British colonies, Canada follows the British pattern of parliamentary democracy. Ties with the US are now vital, especially in terms of trade, but Canada often goes its own way.
Both English and French enjoy official status, and mainly French-speaking Quebec – where pressure for full sovereignty has abated in recent years – has wide-ranging cultural autonomy. Indigenous peoples make up around 4% of the population.
Canada is one of world’s top trading nations – and one of its richest. Alongside a dominant service sector, Canada also has vast oil reserves and is a major exporter of energy, food and minerals.
- Capital: Ottawa
- Population: 7 million (UN, 2012)
- Area: 98 million sq km (3.85 million sq miles)
- Major languages: English, French (both official)
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 79 years (men), 83 years (women) (UN)
- Currency: Canadian dollar