Canada is a large country that makes up the upper section of North America. Although it shares a border with the United States, Canada has many cultural and historical differences. The first people who inhabited Canada were made up of native tribes, a bit like those in the U.S. These groups, known as the First Nations, included the Haida, Tlingit, Kwakiutl, Cree, Mi'kmaq, and many more. They formed settlements in these lands as early as 50,000 - 10,000 BC. European voyagers, traders, and merchants began to explore this area much later, by the late 1400s AD. In those early years, there was a great struggle between the British and the French as they both attempted to claim lands as new territories for their respective countries. The French settled in the area now known as Quebec, while the British created settlements in Ontario. The struggle for land eventually led to wars between these groups. In the end, the British won. In the years that followed, Canada was split up into several provinces, which are similar to states in the U.S.

Canada has a total of thirteen provinces and territories. The provinces from west to east are British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. The three territories lie in the northwest. They are the Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. These areas span such a large mass of land that it makes Canada the world's second-largest country. English and French are the two official languages of the country. The English spoken in Canada is an interesting mix of American and British English. While English is usually spoken everywhere, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia are the main areas where French is regularly practiced as well. In reality, there are also many other languages spoken in Canada, because people from all over the world have migrated there. For example, it is quite common to find people speaking Hindi, Chinese, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Greek, and Korean in large cities. Canada is a great place to discover other cultures and learn about people from other countries. Canada has many big cities and about 80% of its population are urban dwellers. The other 20% live in rural (countryside) areas.

Canadians use dollars for their money too, but they have Canadian dollars instead of U.S. dollars. Maple trees are so plentiful throughout the country that the maple leaf is an important symbol in Canada. In fact, you can even find it on the Canadian flag, on some coins, and on the logo of Toronto's hockey team! Quebec actually produces the largest amounts of maple syrup in the world. In the springtime, it is a tradition in Ontario and Quebec for people to visit a cabane à sucre, or a sugar shack. There, they enjoy fresh sticky maple syrup cooled on snow, as well as a special brunch that features many foods made with maple syrup. A unique fact about Canada is that it has a Prime Minister instead of a President. Even so, Canada still regards the current British monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) as its official head of state, due to its historical British ties. Going back to its historical roots, traditional Canadian food is a mix of British and French influences. Some examples include pâte chinois (a type of shepherd's pie), roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast turkey, and tourtière (a meat pie), and Nanaimo bars (a sweet dessert). Find out more about this interesting country by exploring the Canadian resources and links below.

 

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