Canada: Facts and Figures
Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia, yet it has a comparatively small population of 33 million people. The vast unoccupied areas of the country include snow capped peaks, endless lakes and sprawling forests, making Canada a particularly idyllic part of the world to emigrate to. Boasting hot summers and cold winters, it is no wonder Britons wish to emigrate here every year, making up part of the 250,000 new Canadian residents every year.
CitiesCanada's four largest cities are Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver. They each offer something completely different to Canada's diverse population. Toronto is often compared to New York because it is a large cosmopolitan scene while Calgary is the centre of the booming Canadian oil industry and is therefore successful economically. Montreal is European in its styling, and in keeping with its French heritage the bilingual city is full of culture. Finally, Vancouver has acquired its name "city of glass" due to its dazzling glass structure and picturesque, more naturalistic setting. The majority of Canadians live in the major cities, within about 200km of the American border where climates are more bearable.
GeographyCanada’s terrain is extremely varied from sunny beaches to frozen mountain tops. Central Canada has a rocky face and is bursting with lakes and rivers. Southern Canada, the areas of Ontario and Quebec, are littered with gently sloping hills, fruitful farmland and hundreds of towns and cities. The East coast displays windswept beaches and rugged Atlantic shore coastlines, which is a very attractive feature. The West coast is largely covered in old-growth rainforest and is mountainous in nature. The further north you travel, the more ice and snow you will encounter, and even the odd polar bear might roam!
GovernmentCanada’s constitution is very similar to the UK. Political participation is widely encouraged. Canada has a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the official head of state. The Queen is, however, only a figurehead and the actual powers are extremely limited. Recently the Canadian relationship with the royal family has been boosted by the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The government is also comparative to that of the UK, with a Westminster parliamentary model. This is where the Prime Minister acts as head of the country. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons.
EconomyThere is a North American Free Trade Agreement, between Canada, the US and Mexico, which has proven extremely beneficial for Canada. America does heavily impact on Canadian exports, in the form of taxes and increased support for US farmers has created tension. Canada, however, benefits from large quantities of natural resources including natural gas, oil and timber.Being a neighbour to the largest economy in the world has its benefit, and being close to American border makes cross-border trade easy and efficient. Although not obviously apparent, the majority of Canadian trade occurs between itself and the United States, last recorded at 75% in 2008.
EmploymentCanada's natural exports have performed well in global trade in recent years and the relative stability of natural resource value has meant that Canada has surfaced well from the world economic crisis.
Canada’s currency has continued to strengthen recently, pushing average wages above that of the US, UK and many countries in continental Europe.
One of the most attractive things about living in Canada is that, in most locations, it's possible to buy a large house on a standard income. The low population density means that land is relatively inexpensive and readily available materials makes costs lower for building.
Canada has not been immune to the general economic downturn, however, and unemployment rates in Toronto and Vancouver hover (early 2011) at about 8 percent whilst the rate in Calgary and Edmonton is about 6 to 7 percent. Finding work can be troublesome, particularly for low skilled workers, and it would be unwise to emigrate before ensuring any type of employment. It's also important to remember that your current skills might not be transferable to the Canadian system, so take time to discover how qualified you are from a Canadian standpoint.
If you have specialist qualifications, the chances of finding a job are certainly more likely, given the small population of Canada.