Canada has about 38 million inhabitants and is at once the second-largest country and one of the least populated countries in the world. Thanks to its vast size, the landscape mainly consists of pristine natural areas. It is a prosperous nation that is a popular destination for immigrants, resulting in relatively rapid population growth.

Most of Canadaʼs population lives within 150 kilometres of the border it shares with the United States of America. Canada is part of the British Commonwealth and the British monarchy is still officially Canadaʼs head of state, although the country is independent. This is one of the reasons that Canada sometimes resembles the United Kingdom more than its neighbour the United States in terms of culture. On this page, you will find information on Canadaʼs history, culture and main tourist attractions, and general information.



Facts and Figures

CapitalOttawa
Size9,985,000 km2
Populations38 million as of 2022
LanguagesFrench and English
CurrencyCanadian dollar (CAD)
ReligionsChristianity: 63%, Muslim: 4%, Other: 6.7%
Time Difference5-hour difference from London to Toronto / 8-hour difference from London to Vancouver
Travel TimeApproximately 7.5 to 10 hours
Power110 Volt/60 Hz, travel plug required
Tap WaterSafe to Drink
VisaA visa or an eTA Canada is mandatory for travel

Map

Because Canada is so large, the country spans across six time zones. For the same reason, the climate varies throughout the different parts of the country. Canada is known for its cold winters, but areas in the south are at the same latitude as Southern Europe. So it can be quite warm here in summer. To the south and northwest, Canada borders the United States. This is the longest, undefended land border in the world. Among other things, Canada is known for its pristine nature reserves, many of which can still be found, especially in the north.


History

Prehistory
Due to a lack of source material in the form of written texts, Canadian prehistory is a relatively unexplored area. Nevertheless, archaeological finds can be used to paint a picture of the earliest inhabitants of present-day Canada. For instance, excavations have shown that northern Canada was already inhabited at least 26,500 years ago. These were probably groups of people who migrated east from Alaska during the last ice age. It is assumed that these migrations were possible because the Bering Strait, the body of water between present day Alaska and Russia, was frozen at that time.

The areas that make up modern-day Canada were populated in several waves of migration. Because of the size of the country, the prehistoric inhabitants lived isolated from each other, which must have caused enormous inter-population variation in Canada. At that time, hundreds of different languages were spoken and multiple forms of nature-oriented religions were adhered to. Most groups lived as hunters and gatherers, and did not live in dwellings or houses.

However, there were small groups that did have a permanent home, pottery and agriculture. The original inhabitants who lived on the coast lived largely from fishing. Unfortunately, because no written word has survived from this time, little is known about the exact lifestyle of these groups. It is not really known for certain exactly how many inhabitants prehistoric Canada had, with estimates ranging from several hundred thousand to several million.

Vikings in North America
The first Europeans to make contact with the American continent were the Normans, who made their way to Newfoundland in northeastern present-day Canada, having previously settled in Iceland and Greenland. The Norsemen established a small colony in Newfoundland and probably even traded with the local inhabitants, but they did not expand further across the American mainland. Indeed, due to the great distance between Canada and present-day Scandinavia, there was very little recruitment of new settlers. The population slowly declined over the years, and presumably the colony was abandoned within a century. For a long time, the Norman colonisation was long only a hypothesis, but in the 1960s its existence could be definitively proven through archaeological excavations.

European Colonisation
Around the year 1600, both English and French settlers arrived in Canada. Several settlements were founded, and the population grew rapidly with the arrival of new inhabitants from Europe. Initially, there was a lot of trade with the original inhabitants, but violent conflicts also broke out. Not only between the Europeans and the natives, but also between the Europeans themselves. England and France fought several wars over the control of North America, with the English eventually succeeding in taking major control. Nevertheless, many territories remained under French rule. Quebec is the most famous example of this.

View over Quebec CityView over Quebec City

The American War of Independence did sometimes cross the border into Canada. Attempts were made by the rebellious colonists to take control of more territory, Canada remained under the control of the British crown. In the War of 1812, the Americans made several attempts to occupy and "liberate" Canada from British rule, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

There were no equal relations between the colonists and the indigenous inhabitants. Although there were relatively few major wars between the colonists and the indigenous people in Canada, the indigenous peoples were clearly disadvantaged. With the Indian Act of 1876, although the indigenous people were recognised, they were also forced to give up their culture and language in favour of English ways of life.

The unification of the Canadian territories
For the vast majority of its history, Canada was not seen as a unified country, but instead as a collection of territories In 1867, three independently governed British provinces merged to form the Canadian Confederation. These were Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada, which was split into Ontario and Quebec. Canada gained independence from the United Kingdom when this happened. Just after the unification, the country was immediately plagued by problems after merging into a confederation. Poverty prevailed, causing many inhabitants to migrate to the United States, which was more prosperous at the time. There were also many disputes, both between Catholics and Protestants and between French and English speakers. However, by the end of the 19th century, tempers calmed down, and greater unification began, after which the Canadian economy began to see great prosperity. Over the years, the countryʼs territory has undergone many further expansions and changes. Now Canada has 10 provinces and three territories.

Modern Canada
In the 20th century, Canada gradually developed into the modern country we know now. The country supported the Allies in World Wars I and II and was a founding member of NATO. For a long time, Canadian politics were closely intertwined with English politics until the signing of the Canada Act 1982, which gave the Canadian parliament full autonomy over its own legislation. A major challenge for Canadian ministers was dealing with Quebec. Culturally, this French-speaking province differed greatly from the rest of the country. In 1980 and 1995, referendums were even organised in which the separation of Quebec was at stake. On both occasions, those opposing independence won by a slim margin. Today, Quebec constitutes a special region within Canada with far-reaching autonomy.


Culture

While Canadian culture shares many similarities with American culture, there are distinct differences in their governments. For instance, the American government is a more decentralized model, whereas Canada has a more centralized government closer to the UK and European Union models of government. The Canadian legal system can trace its roots back to the English Common Law model, taken from its period as part of the British Colony. A key proponent of Canadaʼs government is “Official Bilingualism”, which holds both languages as equals in terms of their use in government institutions. However, given the smaller size of French-speaking Quebec compared to the rest of the country, English is generally more commonly spoken throughout Canada.

Canadaʼs original inhabitants are called First Nations. Of these, the Inuit are the largest group. The Inuit regained control of some territory in 1999 thanks to the Nanavut Land Claims Agreement Act, which separated the new province from the Northwest Territories. They also have their own language: Inuktitut, which is recognised as an official language in Nunavut.

The most recognizable symbol for Canada as a country is the Maple Leaf. The country also has a bank holiday called Canada Day on 1 July, which celebrates the unification of the original territories into the Canadian Confederation. In addition, Canada celebrates its own Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday of every October, it can sometimes be referred to as “Canadian Thanksgiving” to distinguish from the American Holiday with the same name.

IJshockey in CanadaAn ice hockey stadium in Canada

Sports are an important aspect in Canadian culture. Many sports that are now very popular were brought over during the time of English rule, so it is not surprising that the English influence can still be seen. As in other countries of the British Commonwealth, cricket is also a popular sport in Canada. Furthermore, many people play lacrosse, a sport that has its origins in the culture of indigenous people. Last, but certainly not least, ice hockey is Canadaʼs iconic national sport.


Weather and Climate

With a country as large as Canada, the climate varies throughout most of the country. The north has a tundra climate with cold, dark winters and cool summers. The central part of Canada has a subarctic climate with very cold and long winters, short warm summers and relatively little precipitation. The south of the country has a temperate continental climate. The west coast of Canada has a milder climate, namely a temperate maritime climate with very little snowfall in the winter months.

Maand
Average high temperature in °C
Average high temperature in °C
Average low temperature in °C
Average low temperature °C
Average number of rainy days
Average number of Rainy days
January-5-1413
February-4-1311
March3-611
April11111
May18812
June241312
July271611
August251512
September201011
October13512
November6-114
December-1-915

As a result of climate change, several natural disasters have recently occurred in Canada. Floods and devastating forest fires have caused great chaos in the country in recent years. Extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent in the near future. Average temperatures have increased dramatically, especially in northern Canada. As a result, more polar ice is likely to melt in the foreseeable future, resulting in stronger sea level rise.


Highlights

Canada is known for its vast and untouched natural areas. Canada has 37 national parks that together cover an area the size of Germany. Even outside the national parks, there is plenty of natural beauty to see. Many national parks are located in and around the Canadian Rocky Mountains. An excellent way to enjoy many beautiful landscapes is to drive by car along the Icefields Parkway from Jasper National Park to Banff National Park. From this road, you will have stunning views of the surrounding area. It is impossible to list all of Canadaʼs natural beauty, but here are six great spots that highlight the awe-inspiring Canadian landscape.

Niagara Falls
Located on the border between Canada and the United States, Niagara Falls is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the continent of North America. This is with good reason, as its size and grandeur are quite impressive. More than 3,000 tonnes of water plunges into a depth of 57 metres with a deafening roar. As a tourist in Canada, it is possible to admire the falls from quite close quarters. The most famous waterfalls of Niagara Falls are the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. These are a striking 671 metres wide

Gros Morne National Park
The Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and is named after the Gros Morne Mountain. It is the highest mountain in the Long Range, a Canadian mountain range that is an offshoot of the Appalachian Mountains. Several long hiking trails in the park allow tourists to discover the areaʼs remarkable geology, including rocks billions of years old.

Bay of Fundy
The Bay of Fundy lies between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the northwest of the country. The bay is renowned for its large tidal range. The water can be as can be as much as 16 metres higher during high tide than during low tide. Even with the naked eye, the rise and fall of the water can be clearly seen.

Athabasca Falls
The famous Jasper National Park, located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the province of Alberta, is home to the Athabasca Falls. Although not as high a drop as Niagara Falls, this location is still particularly spectacular due to their rugged force. Athabasca Falls also happen to be in a remote area, deep in the wilderness. This certainty adds to the appeal. Despite the more remote location, Athabasca Falls is quite easy to reach by car.

Moraine Lake
Another well-known attraction in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is Moraine Lake, a renowned scenic mountain lake in Alberta. The lake is located in the beautiful Banff National Park. The water level is highest in summer because it is glacially fed, which makes the crest of the lake in mid to late June. During that period, the lake reflects a distinctive azure blue shade, which comes from sediment at the bottom.

Wood Buffalo National Park
With a size larger than Switzerland, this is Canadaʼs largest national park. It was established in 1922 with the aim of protecting the bison, which are technically considered buffalo. At the time the park was established, the bison were threatened with extinction. Now it is home to a healthy population of at least 3,000 bison. The park is also home to many other animal species. It is very likely while touring this park to encounter all kinds of amazing wildlife.

Canadese wildernisCanadaʼs pristine wilderness

Some major Canadian cities

Ottawa: Ottawa is not the largest Canadian city, but it is the capital. Ottawa was named Canadaʼs capital by Queen Victoria in 1857, partly to end the rivalry between Montreal and Toronto. The Parliament building is perhaps the cityʼs most famous landmark, but there are also many interesting museums. Furthermore, it is possible to cruise the Rideau Canal, a 200-year-old canal that has been declared a cultural world heritage site by UNESCO.

Toronto: With around 3 million inhabitants, Toronto is Canadaʼs largest city. This makes it the fourth-largest city in North America in terms of population. Its most famous landmark is probably the CN Tower, a 553-metre-high tower from which one has a good view of the entire city.

Montreal: Montreal is the largest city in the province of Quebec and the second-largest city in Canada. Most worth visiting is the old city centre. Many buildings here date back to the time of the first French settlers.

Vancouver: Vancouver is located on the west coast of Canada, close to the US border. Its port is one of the most important in the world due to its location. From a ferry, the cityʼs impressive skyline can be admired.


Currency

In Canada, payment is made with the Canadian dollar (CAD). As a tourist, it is fairly easy to pay everywhere by debit or credit card. This also allows you to withdraw Canadian dollars from ATMs. It is advisable to use your debit card whenever possible, as credit card companies often charge higher transaction fees. Either way, it is wise to always take a credit card with you when travelling as well. It is often needed for reservations and deposits. Also consider increasing the credit card limit before departure if necessary. Nowadays, in many cases, it is also possible to pay contactless with your smartphone. For more information on this, check your bankʼs website.


Safety

Canada is a very safe country to travel to. Nevertheless, there are certain risks, especially in the vast natural areas. For instance, forest fires can occur in the west of the country in summer. In winter, on the other hand, temperatures drop below -30 degrees in large parts of Canada. Roads can become inaccessible during this period due to black ice and heavy snowfall. Going to a nature reserve? Then prepare your trip well to avoid unpleasant surprises.

BergenThe Canadian Rocky Mountains


The travel authorisation for Canada: the eTA

It is mandatory to obtain an eTA Canada or a visa if you want to travel to Canada. The eTA is an electronic travel authorisation issued by the Canadian government. An eTA can be easily applied for online for € 24,95 per person. It is advised to apply for the eTA at least 72 hours before the flight. Because the eTA Canada is valid for a total of five years, it is possible to apply for the eTA several weeks or months in advance. You can apply for the eTA via this website. You can pay directly with iDEAL, Bancontact, PayPal or credit card. Once the eTA is granted, it is digitally linked to the travellerʼs passport. After this, you will be allowed to travel to Canada as often as you wish for five years, or for the validity duration of your current passport. If your passport expires, you must also apply for a new eTA. Each visit to Canada may last up to six months. Do you want to stay longer? If so, an eTA is not suitable, and you will need to apply for a visa.
Apply directly for an eTA Canada

e-Visa.ie is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the eTA Canada. e-Visa.ie acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for an eTA directly with the immigration service (7 CAD per eTA, via onlineservices-servicesenligne.cic.gc.ca). However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via e-Visa.ie, our support centre is available to you 24/7. We also check your application before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 7 CAD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as € 20,23 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous eTA Canada was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.