Canada’s ten provinces are similar to U.S. states, but with more power to govern themselves. The four Atlantic provinces are called maritime provinces, meaning they border the sea. These small provinces are hilly, covered with forests, and have many good bays and inlets. The Grand Banks provide excellent fishing, but some areas have been overfished. The heart of Canada’s population and economy is in Ontario and Quebec, the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence area. It has three land areas: the Canadian Shield, with poor soil, a cold climate, and abundant minerals; the Hudson Bay Lowland, a wet- lands between the Canadian Shield and Hudson Bay; and the St. Lawrence Low- lands, with rich soil, a mild climate, and sixty percent of Canada’s population. The three Prairie Provinces produce most of Canada’s wheat and cattle. Oil and natural gas in Alberta provide wealth for the region. More than half the people in the Prairie Provinces live in cities, most of which lie along the railroads. British Columbia has plenty of natural resources, including salmon, forests, and minerals. Vancouver, its largest city, is Canada’s main Pacific port. The northern area, 40 percent of Cana- da’s land, has a harsh climate and rough land that make it hard to reach mineral wealth. The area includes the Yukon Ter- ritory, Northwest Territories, and as of 1999, Nunavut. This newest province was carved from the Northwest Territories as part of a land claim settlement with the native peoples.

#1 In which region do more than half of Canada’s people live?
#2 Chart Skills: What are Canada’s three Prairie Provinces?


Canada’s lack of national unity mainly results from diversity among its people. Canada’s history helps to explain this challenge of unity. Many Canadians identify more strongly with regional and ethnic groups than with the nation. The Inuit and the Native Amer- icans first populated the land when their ancestors migrated to North America thou- sands of years ago. The British and French arrived in the 1500s and began colonizing the region, devastating the native popula- tion with European diseases and warfare. France and Britain battled over the land and fought four wars in North Amer- ica. By 1763, France surrendered all of its land. French colonists were allowed to remain in Canada, and in 1774 the British government passed laws to ensure they would be able to maintain their own lan- guage, laws, and culture. Britain continued to rule Canada direct- ly until 1867. Then Canada was given its own government, but many decisions were still made by Britain. In 1931, Cana- da became a fully independent country. The government agreed to protect the rights of French-speaking citizens. Although French and English are both official languages, only 15 percent of Canadians speak both. The majority of French- speakers live in the province of Quebec. French Canadians feel discriminated against, claiming they are denied jobs because they are of French descent. Many want Quebec to secede, or withdraw, from the rest of Canada. This movement, called separatism, would make Que- bec an independent country. Although most Canadians have British or French ancestors, there are many immigrants from other parts of Europe as well as from Asia.


#3 What do separatists in Quebec want?
#4 Graph Skills: What country in Europe is the original place of origin for most Canadians?


Canada is a prosperous nation with a sta- ble government and a high standard of living. Yet it faces many challenges. One challenge for Canada is extracting natural resources with- out harming the environment. Another challenge is urbaniza- tion. Today, 77 percent of the nation’s population lives in cities. Canada must find a way to pro- vide housing and services, con- trol pollution, and prevent over- crowding in these urban areas. Canada and the United States share the longest undefended border in the world. Travelers pay customs, or fees, to bring goods from one country to the other. These nations also connect on a cultural level. People liv- ing close to the border can enjoy radio and television programs from stations in both countries. Also, professional sports leagues include teams from both nations. Another important link between Cana- da and the United States is economics. Canada buys nearly 25 percent of all U.S. exports, and the United States buys about 85 percent of Canadian exports. While these countries have many ties, Canadians consider the relationship uneven. Canadi- ans are generally aware of events happen- ing in the United States, while Americans tend to know little about Canada. Canada’s major ports on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans make it a major trading partner with many nations of the world. Canada has a special relationship with fellow member nations of the Common- wealth of Nations. Canada also works to keep peace in many parts of the world.


#5 What challenge does Canada face in developing its natural resources?
#6 Chart Skills: Which country has a higher per capita GDP?