Canada is located in northern North America with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Pacific Ocean on the west. A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown.
It is north of, and shares the longest trade border in the world with, the United States. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US.
Canada is the second-largest country in world with 85% of its population living within 300 km of its southern border.
Capital City: Ottawa
Currency: Canadian dollar (CAD) minted in $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $1000 notes. Coins: 1c, 5c, 10c, 25c, $1 and $2. The $1 coin is often referred to by Canadians as the 'Loonie,' and the $2 coin the 'Toonie'.
Sales Tax: Country-wide GST (or Goods and Services Tax) is applied to most consumer purchases, with few exemptions. These include: Pre-owned residential housing, most medical services performed by licensed physicians,
Non-resident visitors to Canada may file a refund claim to recoup GST paid on purchases (of eligible goods and short-term accommodation) totaling more than CDN $200. It is necessary to retain all original receipts. For further information and to access to a claim form, see Tax Refund for Visitors to Canada.
Measurement System: Metric since 1970's, though Imperial system is still used by many.
Official Languages: English and French
Prime Minister: Stephen Harper (Conservative, since February 2006)
Entry: United States residents require a passport or birth certificate and picture ID to enter.
Geographical Divisions: Canada is divided into ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) and three northern territories (Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut).
Government: Canada has two levels of government, Federal and Provincial. The Federal government is a parliamentary democracy with five major political parties: Liberal Party; Progressive Conservative Party (PC); New Democratic Party (NDP); Canadian Alliance and Bloc Quebecois. Each Canadian province has its own Provincial Government.
Legal and Judicial System: There are two law-making bodies in Canada: the House of Commons with 301 seats, and the Senate with 105 seats. The judiciary system is made up of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal and Provincial Courts.
Primary Industries: Transportation equipment, chemicals, minerals, food products, wood products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas.
Economy: Services: 71.2%, industry: 26.5%, agriculture: 2.3%.
Unemployment rate: 6.8%
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