Canada is a country located in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometers (3.85 million square miles), making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land territory being dominated by forest and tundra and the Rocky Mountains. It is highly urbanized, with 82 percent of the 35.15 million people concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from the arctic weather in the north to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.
Various indigenous peoples have inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years prior to European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century, the British and French established colonies, the first being the colony of Canada established by France in 1535. As a consequence of various armed conflicts, British North America gained and lost territory until, by the late 18th century, it controlled most of what comprises Canada today. On July 1, 1867, the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia were federated to form the semi-autonomous federal Dominion named Canada. This began an accretion of provinces and territories to the Dominion to the present ten provinces and three territories forming contemporary Canada. Canada achieved independence gradually beginning with responsible government in the 1830s and culminating with the patriation of the Constitution in 1982. In 1931, Canada achieved near-total independence from the United Kingdom with the Statute of Westminster 1931, except for the power to amend its constitution.
Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being the head of state. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Its advanced economy is the tenth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
Canada is a developed country and has the fifteenth-highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the tenth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. Canada is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie, and part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G7 (formerly G8), the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
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