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The country of Canada is situated in the northern part of North America. Stretching from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Arctic Ocean to the north and the border of the United States to the south, Canada contains 3.85 million square miles. Geographically, it is the second largest nation in the world. There are ten provinces and three territories nationwide. The population is sparse and the climate ranges from cold to extremely cold, due to the fact that it is so far north. It has a population of 35.15 million people, with more than 80% of the population living in the cities, including the largest cities of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and the capital city of Ottawa.

The first people to settle in Canada crossed over the land bridge which connected the what is now Russia's Chukotka Peninsula, which is located in the easternmost peninsula in Asia, and the Seward Peninsula in the Bering Sea in what is now Alaska. The first Europeans to reach Canada were the Vikings in 986, though they never actually touched ground there. They were in a ship which had been blown off course in a storm. They noted the land which was new to them, then went back to sea. In 1001, the famous Viking Leif Eriksson arrived and did get off his ship. He named the place where he came ashore Vinland and soon after his arrival, he and his fellows sailed off. At some point after this, the Vikings returned and established a settlement but soon abandoned it after several conflicts with the indigenous people there. And so it was that there were no permanent European settlements in the country until the first decade of the 1600s when Samuel de Champlain, from France, arrived in Canada on the first of his three expeditions.

On this expedition, in 1603, he found himself sailing up a river which he named the St. Lawrence River. In 1604, he returned to the area and founded Port Royal, Acadia, which would one day become St. John, New Brunswick, and in 1608, he founded Quebec. Half a century later, Montreal was established. The Englishman Henry Hudson arrived in 1610 to explore the area after England decided that they wanted a piece of the pie. Hudson Bay is named for him, and in 1629 the Quebec was captured by the British, and in 1632, the land was returned to France. But that would not be the end of the skirmishes and battles the French and the English would have over Canadian land, and in 1763, the Treaty of Paris made France surrender their territory to England.

By the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, there were 90,000 people living there. There was a hope, or perhaps even an expectation, that the French Canadians would help them fight the British for independence, but that did not happen.

In 1775, the Continental Army invaded Quebec in order to take control of the province from England. They failed. In 1783, more than 40,000 colonists were living south of Canada who were loyal to the British crown fled to the north, settling in Quebec and Nova Scotia. The new settlers included Mohawk Indians, Europeans, and even 3,000 black loyalists including both slaves and freemen.

During the American War of 1812, the American Army invaded Canada, but again they failed. During the 19th century, having had a large number of British immigrants, Canada had become a shipbuilding nation in addition to their flourishing trapping and fur trading industries. Canals were constructed in order to boost commercial transportation.

Although Canada had a nominal legislature assembled by election, but in actuality, the king's appointed councils who had executive powers had the final word. There were several uprisings of Canadians wanting control of their own government, but they all failed as the revolts were put down. Finally, in 1837, Canada got the democratic government they had been fighting for. In the late 1960s, Quebec's independence became a national issue. Quebec, which still had very large numbers of French and French-speaking residents, had two factions of the independence movement: those who wanted to fight at the ballot box and those who were more radical.

In 1970, radical groups kidnapped, and in one case, killed establishment officials, prompting Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to order the military to occupy Montreal. Two referenda were held regarding the question of separation, with both elections failing the separatists. A large number of people and businesses fleeing Montreal for other provinces.

In 1977, the separatists finally won their bid for independence, and the official language of the province became French. For all intents and purposes, English became an illegal language, with even signage was in French with fines for those who used signs written in English. Today, Canadian population is more than 35 million. Multiculturalism is the way of life for Canada.



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