Geography and Nature
Canada is the second-largest country in the world (9,970,610 sq.km) surpassed only by Russia. Canada is situated to the North from the USA between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. Canada is 7,770 km long from west to east and 4,600 km from north to south. Almost 90% of Canadian population live at 160 km range from the boarder on the USA.
The capital of Canada is Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.
Canada borders on the USA in the south and in the west. The total length of its land borders is 8,893 km, including Alaska. The length of its sea boarders is 243,791 km.
The climate of Canada varies from moderate in the South to Arctic in the North.
Though most of Canada's territory is occupied by lakes and wilderness forests, there are also vast mountain ranges, plains and even a small desert. Great Plains, or prairies, cover Manitoba, Saskatchewan and partly Alberta. These fertile territories are suitable for agriculture. Western Canada is famous for the Rocky Mountains. In Eastern Canada all the main cities as well as Niagara Falls are situated. The Canadian Shield, the ancient mountainous region which formed more than 2,5 billion years ago, covers the north of the country. In the Arctic region there is tundra which is divided to the north into many islands covered with ice all the year round.
The tallest peak of Canada is Mount Logan. It is 6,050 m high above the sea level.
The main natural resources found in Canada are nickel, zinc, copper, gold, tin, silver, coal, oil and gas.
The territories suitable for cultivation occupy only 5% of Canada and 3% are used as pastures. 54% of the territory of Canada are covered with forests and cultivated land occupies only 7,100 sq.km.
Canada, one of the largest countries in the world occupies almost all the northern part of the North America and all the nearby islands, among them are Vancouver Island in the west, Newfoundland in the East and Canadian Arctic Archipelago in the north. Canada is famous for its vast steppes, beautiful mountains, rich mineral resources, forests, rivers and lakes.
On the territory Canada is surpassed only by Russia, but if we take into account only dry land (minus 8% of the territory occupied by rivers and lakes), this total area of Canada is less than that of China. Canada borders on Russia through the North Pole. Canada is washed by the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. It's total coastal line length is more than 250,000 km.
The Western Coast of the country is high, steep and cut up by gulfs. Nearby there are a lot of islands, Vancouver Island, the Queen Charlotte Islands, etc. The Pacific Ocean is not covered with ice in winter.
The Eastern Coast is also steep and cut up by bays and gulfs. The deepest gulfs are the St. Lawrence and the Bay of Fundy. The Ocean is covered with ice only for a short period every year, but fogs and storms prevent regular navigation.
The Northern Coast has no gulfs and bays. The Arctic Ocean is covered with ice during 9-10 months a years, so navigation is possible only in summer.
As Canada is situated between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, it is connected with many countries of the world. This connection provided possibilities for not expensive transportation by the sea.
Canada can be divided into 5 parts with different physical and geographical characteristics: the Appalachian Region (in the south-east), the Canadian Shield, the Prairies, the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Lowlands (in the middle) and the Cordillera (in the west).(we teach that there are 11 geographic regions: Pacific Coast, Cordillera, Prairie Provinces, Interior Plains, Canadian Shield, Far North, Southeast, Manufacturing Core, Appalachians, Atlantic, one more that I will have to look up) - these regions are not divided by political boundaries but separate all of North America into these regions with common physical characteristics.
The lands of Canada have complicated geological structure with layers of different age. Near the oldest Canadian Shield there are newly formed Cordillera. Almost half of the country's territory is occupied by the St. Lawrence Plateau, which is a part of the Canadian Shield. It still has remained traces of the recent glacial period: smooth rocks, chains of lakes, etc. The Plateau is a sloping and undulating plain. It is the most unsuitable for living part of Canada, but it the richest one with mineral resources.
From the north and south the St. Lawrence Plateau is surrounded by vast lowlands - the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Hudson Bay Lowland. They represent the most typical Canadian landscape and made Canada famous as a vast country with good climate and geographical conditions.
Steppes occupy the largest part of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. These are often called prairie provinces. The St. Lawrence Lowlands have climate favorable for agriculture as well as suitable soil. It is the economical center of Canada.
The Appalachian Mountains are situated in the South - East of the country. They are rich with mineral resources. The average height of this mountain range is about 600 metres. To the north-west of the Appalachians there is the Canadian Shield consisting mainly of granite and gneiss. There are also many swamps, lakes and mountain rivers there. From west and south the Canadian Shield is surrounded by the chain of lakes - from Great Bear Lake to Great Lakes. Great Bear Lake is the largest lake situated entirely in Canada.
To the west of the Canadian Shield there are Great Plains. Their southern part - the Lowlands - is the agricultural center of the country, they make 75% of all the cultivated territories. The Cordillera Mountains run along the Pacific Coast of Canada - 2,500 km from north to south and 750 km from west to east. They are called the Rocky Mountains at the East and the Coastal Mountains at the West. Their average height is 2-3 thousand metres above the sea level.
Flora and Fauna
Tundra and taiga consist the major part of Canadian landmass. Only 8% of it is cultivated, 50% of the territory are covered with forests rich with valuable sorts of wood. The most valuable sorts are that of conifers: gigantic tuya, balm fir, larch, black and white fur-trees. In the south and southwest of the country poplar, yellow birch, oak and maple, which is the symbol of Canada, are widely represented. Hunting fur-bearing animals in taiga is a very important branch of Canadian economy.
On the stock of wood resources Canada is surpassed only by Russia and Brazil, but it is on the 1st place in the world on the stock of wood per one citizen.
Moss, grass and flowers grow in tundra only in summer. In the forest tundra one can see different sorts of dwarf trees. Prairies and lowlands are covered with feather-grass and wormwood.
Canada has a diversity of fauna on its territory. In tundra northern deer, tundra wolf, white bear, white hare, Arctic fox and some other species are occurred. Forests are inhabited by bear, wolf, fox, lynx, squirrel, hare, marten, beaver, elk and deer. Field mice, mole and gopher live in steppes. Many species of migratory birds inhabit the lakes and the Arctic islands in summer. In Canadian National Parks a lot of rare species are preserved. Among them are buffalos, which were almost exterminated since the first Europeans had settled on the North American Continent.
Coastal waters in the west are rich with salmon, gorbusha, chum salmon, etc., and in the east - with cod-fish and herring.
There are many climatic variations in Canada, ranging from Arctic in the north to moderate in the south. The majority of Canadian territories have continental climate, the Eastern and Western Coasts - sea climate, and the southern part of the country is characterized by moderate, almost subtropical climate. The average temperature in January in the north is -35 C, in the south -20 C, on the eastern coast -5 C, on the western coast -4 C. The average temperature of July ranges from 5 C in the north to 22 C along the border on the USA in the south. Precipitation prevails in the coastal regions (up to 2,500 mm a year), the central part of Canada is rather dry (200-300 mm a year). In winter almost all the territory of the country is covered with snow and rivers and lakes are covered with ice.
Cold air masses from the Arctic coast easily reach the southern parts of Canada, cooling the air of the temperate zone. The mountain chains of Canada are located along the meridians and do not protect its southern part from the influence of the Arctic winds. Only southwestern and southeastern parts of the country can be characterized as having mild and moderate climate.
Lakes and Rivers
There are some two million lakes in Canada, covering about 7,6% of the Canadian landmass. The main lakes, in order of the surface area located in Canada (many large lakes are traversed by the Canada - U.S.A. border), are Huron, Great Bear, Superior, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Erie and Ontario. The largest lake situated entirely in Canada is Great Bear Lake (31 326 sq.km) in the Northwest Territories.
The St. Lawrence (3058 km long) is Canada's most important river, providing a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The longest Canadian River is the Mackenzie, which flows 4241 km through the Northwest Territories. Other large watercourses include the Yukon and the Columbia (parts of which flow through U.S. territory), the Nelson, the Churchill, and the Fraser - along with major tributaries such as the Saskatchewan, the Peace, the Ottawa, the Athabasca, and the Liard.
Almost 2/3 of Canadian rivers belong to the Arctic Ocean basin. Everywhere except the southern part of the country rivers are covered with ice for a period from 5 to 9 months a year. The Niagara and the St. Lawrence rivers play a very important role in economy of Canada as they connect it to the U.S.A. and are a source of electrical power produced by numerous hydroelectric power stations on its banks. The Columbia is also used for producing electricity but it is not suitable for navigation.
There are about 4 million lakes, big and small in Canada. The biggest ones are Great Lakes, Great Bear Lake and some others. All the lakes are beautiful indeed due to clean transparent blue water and picturesque rocky banks. Lakes are the most popular place for spending weekends and vacations with Canadians.
Canada is very rich with mineral resources: non-ferrous metals, rare and precious metals, uranium, iron ore, natural gas, coal, asbestos, potash, potassium salts.
The Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Alberta and the Appalachians and the coastal provinces are rich with coal deposits. Iron ore is occurred in the lake Superior district, Labrador Peninsula and the Cordillera mountains The Canadian Shield is a natural store of nickel, copper, iron, platinum, uranium and cobalt. In the Appalachians a lot of asbestos, coal, gold, silver and non-ferrous metals are occurred. The Cordillera mountains are rich with non-ferrous and precious metals.