Canadian geography

With a landmass of 9.1 million square kilometres, Canada is the second-largest country in the world. Canada is located in the top half of North America, and the country is bordered by three oceans: Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic. In fact, we have the longest coastline of any country. To our south, we share nearly 9,000 kilometres of land border with the United States. That’s the longest border in the world! Most Canadians live within a few hundred kilometres of the U.S. border.

Our country has some impressive geographic features, including vast mountain ranges and more than 2 million lakes. Would you believe we have just under 1 million square kilometers of fresh water? Pack your bathing suit and prepare to explore our beautiful rivers, lakes, streams and oceans.

Population of Canada

Canada’s population is around 38 million[1]. Approximately 80% of people live in cities and towns. We have so much space in Canada that our population density ratio is one of the lowest in the world. That translates to less than 4 persons per square kilometre!

Canada’s largest cities include[2]:

  • Toronto: 6.5 million
  • Montreal: 4.3 million
  • Vancouver: 2.7 million
  • Calgary: 1.5 million
  • Edmonton: 1.4 million
  • Ottawa-Gatineau: 1.4 million

Canada is a multicultural and diverse country. Canadians represent 250 ethnic origins or ancestries. There are 20 million Canadians of European ancestry, 2 million with Indigenous ancestry and large numbers of Canadians who report being of Chinese, East Indian, Southeast Asian and other ancestries. Canada’s Indigenous population consists of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples[3].

Canadians practice many different religions, while some claim no religious affiliation. Our population includes people who adhere to Catholic, Protestant, Christian Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and other faiths.

Learn more about Canadian culture.

Languages of Canada

Canada has 2 official languages: English and French. All federal government institutions and many businesses offer bilingual services.

Chinese dialects are the 3rd most common native language in Canada, followed by Panjabi (Punjabi), Spanish, Arabic and Tagalog. The most common Indigenous languages are Cree, Inuktitut and Innu.

Canada is home to some of the world’s top educational institutions.

Canada has a strong and well-funded system of public education, largely managed provincially. Consequently, some aspects of the education system can vary between provinces. However, as education is overseen by the federal government, the standard of education remains consistently high throughout the country.

There is both a public and private education system in Canada. The Canadian government heavily subsidizes education from kindergarten through to the post-secondary level, spending on average almost six percent of its GDP on education. This means Canada spends proportionately more on education than the average among OECD countries.

Generally speaking, the education system is divided into three levels:

Private education and other schooling systems — for example, religious schools — are also available at all three levels. 


Education in Canada is available to children the year they turn five (except in Ontario and Quebec, where children may start a year earlier). Depending on the province, kindergarten may be optional. The table below shows, generally speaking, the ages between which children are required to attend school (note that requirements may differ for homeschooling, which is legal across Canada).

ProvinceAge of compulsory education
AlbertaSix to 16
British ColumbiaSix to 16
ManitobaSeven to 18
New BrunswickFive to 18
NewfoundlandSix to 16
Northwest TerritoriesFive to 18
Nova ScotiaFive to 16
OntarioSix to 18
Prince Edward IslandFive to 16
QuebecSix to 16
SaskatchewanSeven to 16
YukonSix to 16

Primary Education

Also known as elementary school, this level runs from Kindergarten or Grade 1 (ages six to seven) and runs through to Grade 8 (ages 13 to 14). The school year normally runs from September through to the following June. 

Secondary Education

Also known as high school, this level runs from Grade 9 (ages 14 to 15) to Grade 12 (ages 17 to 18). Ontario has a Grade 12+. In Quebec, students attend high school until the age of 16. They may then proceed to CEGEP, a publicly-funded two-year college where students may pursue either a university preparation diploma, or a vocational diploma.

Post-secondary Education

Canada has a wide network of colleges and universities, offering some of the best post-secondary education worldwide. 

Canada has many internationally recognized university programs located in both urban and rural regions throughout the nation. Degrees awarded from Canadian universities are generally recognized as equivalent to those from other universities worldwide.

The university year usually runs from September to April or May, and is comprised of two semesters, or terms. Many post-secondary institutions offer the option of taking courses in a third semester during the summer months. Generally speaking, students may begin a study program at a university in September (in most cases), or in January.

College programs may run throughout the year, and students may be able to begin a course at various points during the year.

Few of Canadian Universities are given below 



University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia, commonly referred to as UBC, is a public research university with campuses and facilities in British Columbia, Canada.


Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University, commonly referred to as SFU, is a public research university in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, with its main campus on Burnaby Mountain and satellite campuses in Downtown Vancouver and Surrey.


Capilano University

Capilano University is an undergraduate-focused, public, coeducational, teaching-intensive university located in the District of North Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. It is enabled by the University Act,[6] enrolling its first students in 1968.


University of Regina

The University of Regina is a public research university located in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Founded in 1911 as a private denominational high school of the Methodist Church of Canada.


University of Calgary

The University of Calgary (U of C or UCalgary) is a public research university located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Founded in 1966 (after operating as the Calgary branch of the University of Alberta since 1945)


University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo (commonly referred to as Waterloo, UW or UWaterloo) is a public research university with a main campus located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The main campus is located on 404 hectares (1,000 acres) of land in “Uptown” Waterloo, adjacent to Waterloo Park.


University of Toronto

The University of Toronto (U of T, UToronto, or Toronto) is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen’s Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King’s College, the first institution of higher learning in the colony of Upper Canada.



University of Manitoba

The University of Manitoba (U of M) is a public university in the province of Manitoba, Canada. Located in Winnipeg, it is a research-intensive post-secondary educational institution. Founded in 1877, it was Western Canada’s first university.


Acadia University

Acadia University is a primarily undergraduate university in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada with some graduate programs at the master’s level and one at the doctoral level.


Wilfrid Laurier University


Wilfrid Laurier University, simply known as Laurier, is a Canadian public research university located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Laurier has a second campus in Brantford and offices in Kitchener, Toronto and Chongqing, China.


Trent University


Trent University is a public liberal arts and science-oriented university located along the Otonabee River in Peterborough, Ontario, with a satellite campus in Oshawa, which serves the Regional Municipality of Durham.


Conestoga College


Conestoga College Institute of Technology and advanced teaching is a public college based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, with an enrollment of 11,000 full-time students, 30,000 part-time students, and 3,300 apprenticeship students.


University Of New Brunswick (UNB)


The University of New Brunswick (UNB) could be a public university with 2 primary campuses, set in Fredericton and Saint John, New Brunswick.


Humber College


Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning is Ontario’s fastest-growing faculty. With a hundred and sixty regular and two hundred continued education schemes, likewise as multiple opportunities to maneuver from one certification to different, students have most flexibility to pursue apprenticeship, certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree or postgraduate programs.


Seneca College Of Applied Arts And Technology

Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology is a public college located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It offers full-time and part-time programs at the baccalaureate, diploma, certificate and graduate levels.


Durham College

Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology is located in the Durham Region of Ontario, Canada, with campuses in Oshawa and Whitby, a learning site in Pickering, and community employment services in Uxbridge, Port Hope, Port Perry, Beaverton, Oshawa and Bowmanville.


Fanshawe College Of Applied Arts And Technology

Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology, commonly shortened to Fanshawe College, is a public college in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.


Douglas College

Founded in 1970, Douglas College conjures up its students to try to to what they love and be smart at it, providing instructional experiences that challenge, enlighten, and open doors to lives of passion and purpose.


Thompson Rivers University

Thompson Rivers University (commonly referred to as TRU) is a public teaching and research university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees and vocational training. Its main campus is in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada.



Vancouver Island University (VIU)

Vancouver Island University (VIU) could be a centre of quality for teaching, learning and applied research. VIU offers programs that embody graduate and undergrad degrees, occupation programs and trades, in addition as access programs.