Land and Climate
Canada ist the largest country in the world, yet ist population of 26 million is just half that of Britain and one-tenth the population of the USA. It has an area of nearly 10 million sq km. Canada stretches one-fifth of the way around the world. It takes five days and nights to cross the country by train. It is so enormous that it has seven time zones. The country`s coastline is more than 250000 km long, so if you could stretch it out into one long line, like a piece of string, it would wind around the equator six times. Canada is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west,the Arctic Ocean to the north and the USA and the St.Lawrence Seaway to the south. Canada has overone million lakes, which is more than the rest of the world combined.
Canadians are used to very cold winters, but in the south they also have very warm winters.The coldest offical temperature ever observed was -63°C, yet in parts of the country, the temperature also rises to 43°C in mid-summer. This is a range of nearly 106°C. The north of Canada reaches to the North Pole.
In the unsettled areas of Canada there is a lot of different wildlife. To name all these animals there to less time, so a couple of certain animals: moose, deer, beaver, antelope, bears,mountain lions,buffalo, lynx, otter, mink,... on land.
In water: walrus, seal, sea cows, along with a multitude of fish. There is also a great variety of birds like swans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks,...
The first inhabitants of Canada came from Asia about 30000 years ago, across the Bering Strait to Alaska. Some were nomads and other led more settled lives. The Vikings were the first Europeans to arrive. In about AD 1000 Lief Ericson landed on the Labrador coast. In 1497 John Cabot discovered Canada´s east coast (now called Newfoundland) and claimed the land for Britain. Settlements were founded so thet the rich Newfoundland waters could be fished. Both the French and English set up permanent settlements in the new land, and traded with the Canadian Indians - furs for guns,liquor and tools. While the British were developing the Atlantic area and the central part of the country (Ontario), the French were Establishing their own fur-trading operations and settlements mainly in what is now the province of Quebec.
After a lot of rivalry and war between the French and the British both languages became the official language of Canada. Canada was a British colony for more than a century. In 1867, the British North America Act created the Dominion of Canada, which consisted of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. The rest of the provinces and territories joined the confederation by the turn of the century, except Newfoundland, which joined in 1949. The head of State is still Quenn Elizabeth II, and Canada belongs to the Commonwealth.
In 1867, when Canada became a self-governing nation, only one-tenth of the population lived in cities. Today, eight out of ten Canadians live in the cities, and by the year 2000 this figure is expected to rise to nine out of ten. Ottawa, the national capital, is a modern city with office buildings of glass and steel overlooking rivers that are still used to transport enormous log booms downstream to the sawmills. Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris, and is famous for ist cultural life. Toronto, Canada´s largest city, has a space-age city hall and the highest unsupported structure in the world - the CN Tower (Canadian National Tower). Major cities like Toronto and Montrael are great commercial centres.
Beside the sophisticated Canadian cities with their financial institutions, music and art centres, and their mixture of peoples, there are many smaller places that remain distinctly Canadian. There are the fishing ports with their wooden buildings, the Quebec villages, the picturesque small towns of southern Ontario, and the isolated northern communities.
Two-thirds of Canadian families live in detached houses; one-third in flats. Houses are usually well insulated against the extreme cold and the extreme heat of the Canadian climate. Most houses are made of wood, expect in major cities.
A typical day for a Canadian child during the school year starts about 7.30am. Breakfast usually includes orange juice,cereal with milk and sugar, toast and jam or honey, and a glass of milk. Scholl starts at 9.00am and, in the cities, is usually within walking distance. In the country most children are picked up by the school bus. School ends at 3.30pm for most children, then it is time for after- school activities.
Evening is family time. The evening meal is, for most families, a time to come together and share the news of the day. Television is especially popular in winter, because of the less daylight. Most Canadian live in areas that pick up the American TV broadcasts. There are also plenty of Canadian programmes that children enjoy.
The household menu generally reflects the family´s ethnic background, but there are regional specialities as well. The Atlantic provinces enjoy plenty of seafood dishes; and New Brunswick has an interesting vegetable called ´finddleheads´. The traditional foods of Quebec includes tourtiere, a rich pork pie, and a delicious pea soup. Maple syrup, either on ist own, poured over pancakes and waffles, or when used to make candy, is a treat for most Canadians. It is made by boiling down the sweet sap of the sugar maple tree, which grows in eastern Canada.
Generally, all Canadian children like the popular foods - hot doggs, hamburgers, ice-cream. The ethnic foods that are available in shops and restaurants throughout the country are more popular with adults.
Each province manages ist own schools, so the education system varies from province to province. There are several types of school. A `public school` is one that is financed by taxes and is available to everyone, free. Canadians call a school that charges fees a ´private school´. Children starts elementary scholl when they are six. In most provinces elementary school goes to grade six (that means until the age of 12). Then there are two years of junior high school, and finally, highschool from grades nine to twelve. Children must attend school until they are 16. After then they can go to a university or to a community college to continue their studies.
The school year begins early in September and continues until end of June. Children who go to a public school have two month holiday in the summer, a Christmas break, a mid-winter break of ten days in March, and various public holidays as well, depending on the province.
University students go to classes from mid-September to late April and, in most cases, have nearly five month holiday, during which they take part-time jbs to earn the money to pay for their tuition for the next year. The tourist industry, which is at ist busiest in summer, employs many students during the long summer break.
In the far north, children usually attend a `live-in´ school for most of the year. These northern schools serve large areas, so the childrenhave to live at school because they can not travel 1500 km to school each morning in a big bus.
Sport and leisure
Canada is a land of lakes and rivers, trees and mountains, where many people enjoy the great outdoors in both winter and summer. The wilderness is never very far from the city centres. People who work all day in the city can, in avery short time, get away from it all and go fishing on a quiet lake. Many people drive to cottage country at the weekend or during their holidays.
Summer is the usual time for families. Many families spend their summer holiday at a cottage, either their own or a rented one.
Summer sports include baseball, football, tennis, lacrosse (which is adapted from an Indian game), golf, biking and a great variety of water sports,such as water skiing, scuba diving, whitewater rafting, canoing and sailing. Ice Hockey, skating and skiing are the most popular winter sports for children. Ice Hockey is usually played outdoors on natural ice.
New immigrants have brought new sports to Canada. Soccer is growing increasingly popular, and rugby is also played. But cricket is a sport that is rarely played in Canada.
Canada`s ten provinces and two terretories each have their own legislature. The country`s political structure is called federalism. The division of power between Ottawa (seat of the federal government) and the provinces has changed over the years. Each Canadian province has ist own government and is responsable for internal matters such roads, housing, policing and education. Each provincial legislature is led by a premier who, like the prime minister in the federal parliament, is the leader of the poltical party with a majority in the provicial parliament. The main political parties are the Progressive Conservatives, the Liberals, and the New Democratic Party (NDP). At the town and city level the government is in the hands of elected alderman and councillors.
Canada was the first country to become an independent member of the British Commonwealth, and is now what is known as a constitutional monarchy. Quenn Elizabeth II is officaly Head of the State but she does not actually govern or take an active part in the country`s political life. The Queen is represented by the Governor-General. There are three levels of law enforcement in Canada. The national force is called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), or Mounties. There are provincial police forces in Ontario and Quebec, and also city, town and village police. In the eight provinces and two terretories where there are no provincial or teritorial police, and in the many small, and often very remote, communities with no local police forces, the Mounties are responsible for maintaining law and order.