Canada – a “Subcontinent” Part I

Canada is the second largest country on earth, but extremely sparsely populated. The natural area of ​​the country is mainly characterized by the Canadian shield with the Hudson Bay in the center. To the west are the wide prairies of the Great Plains, which rise to the Pacific coast to several mountain ranges of the North American Cordillera. The north of Canada is occupied by the tundras and snow and ice deserts of the islands of the Arctic Archipelago.

Canada has a predominantly continental climate with large contrasts in temperature and precipitation fluctuations due to relief and lies in several belts of vegetation, including the boreal belt of coniferous forests, which takes up a large part of the country’s area. The country’s residents are almost exclusively the descendants of European settlers, especially Anglo and French Canadians.

Canada is a highly developed industrialized country with a diverse industry. Industry is mainly based in the country’s natural wealth. That is why the pulp and paper industry is also its most important branch.

With the exception of Alaska, Canada occupies the north of the continent of North America. The country stretches from the Pacific in the west to the Atlantic in the east, from the Great Lakes in the south over the Hudson Bay and the Arctic islands to the Arctic Ocean. Canada is the second largest country in the world after the Russian Federation and with almost 10 million km² around 28 times the size of the Federal Republic of Germany, but only has a third of its population. The capital of the state is Ottawa.

Surface shape

The relief of the country is characterized by several natural geographic areas:
The geological and scenic core of Canada is the Canadian shield with the Hudson Bay, which was only sunk in the New Earth Era, and its frame, including the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the southeast. It is the rump of a mountain range that was eroded from ancient times and covers over 4.6 million km². The largely flat or slightly hilly, rocky area with its lakes and forests is between 200 and 600 m high and only reaches heights of over 1000 m on the Labrador peninsula.

The largest of the countless lakes, u. a. the Great Bear Lake, the Great Slave Lake and the Winnipeg Lake run along the western edge of the Canadian Shield. Deeply incised fjords and wide marsh plains determine the character of the coastal fringe on the Atlantic coast in the east. To the west, the Canadian Shield is followed by the plains of the Great Plains. They rise in extensive strata from around 300 m in the east to 1500 m in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the west.

The rest of the area up to the Pacific is occupied by the Canadian part of the North American Cordilleras, which consist of several parallel chains. As in the USA, the 4000 m high Rocky Mountains to the east include plateaus 1000 to 1500 m high. The western chain of the Cordillera with the Coastal and Island Cordillera runs parallel to the Pacific coast. The west coast is divided into countless islands and land spurs by deep bays and fjords. Some of them protrude up to 2000 m above sea level.

In the northern part of the coastal cordillera lies Canada’s highest mountain, the ice-armored Mount Logan, which at 6050 m is also the second highest mountain in North America. North of mainland Canada is the Arctic Archipelago with thousands of islands. The largest of them, Baffinland and Victoria Island, are larger than most European countries. While the flatter part of the archipelago in the south only reaches a height of about 400 m, there are almost 3000 m peaks on the northern islands. The south-east of the country, the lowlands formed by the Ice Age on the Saint Lawrence River and in the Great Lakes area, are part of the Central Lowlands of North America.


Due to the vastness of the area, Canada has a predominantly continental climate with long, cold winters and warm, inland hot summers (Fig. 4).

The island world in the north and the northern mainland around the Hudson Bay are in the polar and sub-polar climatic zones. The rest of the country is cold tempered, with the exception of the more balanced coasts . Since Canada has no mountains running in a west-east direction, the country is open to both north and south. That is why the dreaded blizzards, arctic ice and snow storms, can penetrate far south in winter and cause extreme cold spells down to -40 °C. In the summer, however, hot air masses from the Gulf of Mexico, the so-called”Hot waves”, far to the north.

The climate of Canada is therefore characterized by considerable temperature fluctuations. With prevailing westerly winds, more than 1000 mm of precipitation falls in the area of ​​influence of the Atlantic, and around 300 mm in the central parts of Canada. The reservoir area of ​​the Rocky Mountains, on the other hand, receives an extremely high amount of rain during the year.


As a result of the large area and the climatic differences, the country also has a share of different landscape belts:
The treeless moss and lichen tundra in the far north is followed by the boreal coniferous forest belt to the south, which is next to the Eurasia’s taiga, the largest contiguous coniferous forest area on earth.

East of the Rocky Mountains in the Great Plains area borders a wide steppe belt, the prairie, to the forest belt and south, from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic, the mixed forest region of Canada extends.

Important data about the country

Surface: 9.97 million km²
Population: 31.7 million
Population density: 3 residents / km²
Growth of population: 0.8% / year
Life expectancy: 79 years
Form of government: federal parliamentary monarchy in the Commonwealth
Capital: Ottawa
Population groups: Canadians of British (17.1%) and French (9.5%) descent, Canadians of Irish, German, Italian and other descent 29%, Inuit and Indians 800,000
Languages: English or French 98%
Religions: Catholics 46%, Protestants 36%, Anglicans 8%
Climate: subpolar in the north, otherwise moderately continental with large temperature contrasts, in the prairies winter-cold steppe climate
Land use: Forest 35.4%, arable land 5%, meadows and pastures 2.6%
Main export goods: Vehicles, machines and equipment, wheat, wood, paper, ores, oil, natural gas
Gross domestic product: $ 856,523 million (2003)
Economic sectors:
(share of GDP, 2003)
Industry 26.4%, agriculture 2.3%, services 71.3%
Gross National Product: US $ 24,470 / residents (1999)

Canada 1