Just because Canada borders the U.S. doesn’t mean it is like the U.S. The eastern parts of Canada, such as Quebec and Ontario, are modern and sophisticated; while the west and north are still somewhat wild, and often seem untouched compared to the United States and Europe.
Canada’s population is an amalgam of indigenous people; descendent’s of French and British colonists who came to explore, trap, fish, and more; and in the west, a fast growing population of Asian émigrés. And with the vast majority of the country’s population residing near the southern border, there is a huge amount of land to the north that remains almost uninhabited.
Traveling in Canada
Canada has a little bit of everything, from thriving metropolises (such as, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver) to the wild open territories of the northern provinces. The major cities range from being centers of culture, trade, and population, to gateways to the outdoors, cultural melting pots, immigration centers, and more.
The land in central and northern Canada is perfect for adventure travel like skiing, fishing, camping, hiking, rafting, rock and ice climbing, hunting, and more, as well as for the mining and logging industries that have set up camp there.
In the past decade, the native population of Canada has gained a much stronger voice in Parliament, which has led to growth in the regions they control; but don’t let that fool you: outside of the cities, the population is spare and the wilderness is open. Canada’s national park system is extensive, and park rules, in many ways, favor the wildlife over human visitors (for example, protection from bears, in many parks, is limited to using common sense when camping–even items like bear spray are discouraged or illegal, and guns for protection are strictly forbidden).
Weather in Canada
Spring, summer, autumn, and winter are all ideal for tourism in much of Canada, but keep in mind that the cold weather comes early and leaves late in the northern and noncoastal areas. Skiing is great, especially in the Canadian Rockies, and the season lasts from December through April. If you want to camp, hike, river raft, or enjoy other water activities on Canada’s lakes and rivers, the best time is the summer because in the shoulder seasons certain facilities could be closed.
For very adventurous travel (for example, to the Arctic interior), we’d suggest either going with friends who know the area well and have experience in all types of extreme environments, or signing on with a professionally guided trip, with whom you’ll hopefully meet interesting people and get the most well-rounded experience available. But bear in mind that guiding companies often sell trips months or even years in advance–sign up early and plan a lot, and you’ll certainly have a great time.
Government: Parliamentary democracy
Square Miles: 3.9 million sq mi (9,976,000 sq km)
Capitol: Ottawa (pop: 1,010,500)
Official Language: English, French, and native languages
People: British descent (28%), French descent (23%), Italian descent (3%), aboriginal peoples (2%)
Religion: Catholic (45%), Protestant (36%), and minorities from most of the world’s major religions
Major products/industries: processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, transportation equipment, chemicals, fish products, petroleum and natural gas
Health risks: Cholera, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, yellow fever