Canada (i/ˈkænədə/) is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean. Canada is the world’s second-largest country by total area, and its common border with the United States is the world’s longest land border.
The land that is now Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French colonial expeditions explored, and later settled, the region’s Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to Britain in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy, culminating in the Canada Act 1982.
Canada is a federal state governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. The country is officially bilingual and multicultural at the federal level, with a population of approximately 35 million as of 2013. Canada’s advanced economy is one of the largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and trade networks, especially with the United States, with which it has had a long and complex relationship.
Canada is one of the world’s most developed nations, with the ninth highest per capita income globally, and the sixth highest ranking in human development. Subsequently, the country performs well in international rankings of education, civil liberties, quality of life, government transparency, and economic freedom. Canada is a recognized middle power and a member of many international institutions, including the G7, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth of Nations, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and the United Nations.