As the second largest country in the world, with almost ten million square kilometers of land, Canada is very big. Canada is a federation with nine provinces and three territories, with coastline on three oceans (the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic). Even though Canada is so large, it has a relatively small population of only thirty-five million people, mostly clustered in urban areas.
Canada has two official languages: English and French. You'll find that almost all Canadians speak and understand English, which is the sole official language in most of Canada, while French is the official language of only one province in the country: Quebec. The only province with two official languages (both English and French) is New Brunswick, in the Maritimes (Canada's east coast). There are also many indigenous languages recognized throughout Canada, although these are not widely used.
The overriding cultural policy - and public opinion - in Canada is in support of multiculturalism. Canadians are known to celebrate diversity, and to be inclusive and respectful of those from different origins and backgrounds.
Symbols of Canada
The Beaver - a well known symbol of Canada
The beaver is one of the best known emblems of Canada, as this animal is commonly seen in many areas of the country, in addition to being historically important for the development of the lands which would become Canada.
Some Beaver facts:
- The beaver is on the Canadian 5¢ coin
- Beaver are very common in and around Edmonton today; you may see them in the river valley, or in nearby Elk-Island National Park; while you may not see the animals themselves, look for their dams (used to create ponds) and lodges (where they live)
- The beaver is a symbol of UAlberta's Faculty of Engineering, as it is one of nature's most prolific "engineers"
The Canada Coat of Arms
The Canadian Coat of Arms
The Canada Coat of Arms includes the symbols of the four founding nations of Canada: England, France, Ireland, and Scotland. At the top you will see the Royal Crown, indicating that these are the Arms of Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.
On the Canada Coat of Arms you will see the motto of Canada inscribed; A Mari Usque Ad Mare, which is translated from Latin as "From Sea to Sea."
The Flag of Canada
The current flag of Canada was created by George Stanley, a UAlberta alumnus. Consisting of a red, 11-pointed maple leaf over a white square, on a red field, this flag has been in use since 1965, when it was adopted. You will see the flag flying above many buildings all over Canada, as well as being integrated into government logos.