Canada is a federal constitutional monarchy composed of ten provinces and three federal territories. The official languages are English and French. Canada is 9,970,610 sq. km in area and has a population of 32.04 million. The capital is Ottawa.
Of the population, 45 per cent are Catholic and 36 per cent Protestant. There are also members of other religions.
Canada belongs to the following international organisations: the UN (since 1945) and nearly all UN specialized agencies, NATO since 1949, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) since 1958, OSCE since 1973, OECD since 1961, WTO since 1995, the IMF and the World Bank since 1945.
Canada was not represented at the first informal meeting of the G6 in 1975, joining the Group only in 1976. Since then, there have been four summits held in Canada: 1981 (Ottawa), 1988 (Toronto), 1995 (Halifax) und 2002 (Kananaskis).
Canada will next hold the presidency in 2010.
>> Kananaskis Chair's summary
Canada is a federation and a representative parliamentary democracy. It is also a constitutional monarchy, being a member of the British Commonwealth. Its Head of State is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She is represented by a Governor-General appointed for a term of five years.
The office is currently held by Michaelle Jean. The Governor-General's role is for the most part ceremonial. Among his or her powers is the convocation and dissolution of parliament, the appointment of judges and senators, and the signature of legislation.
The head of government is the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the Governor-General. Since 2006, Stephen Harper has served as Canada's 22nd Prime Minister.
Parliament consists of a lower and an upper house (Senate). The lower house is elected for a period of five years, while Senators are appointed by the Governor-General on the Prime Minister's recommendation. Their appointment is subject to regional quotas.
The ten provinces have their own governments. While the provinces are to a great degree self-governing, the three territories (Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut) fall under the direct control of the federal government.
Canada's economy has in recent years undergone a transformation, the emphasis shifting from the traditional extractive and agricultural sectors to services and high-tech industry.
Over the last 12 years it has enjoyed the highest rate of growth of any of the G8 states, and for the last 8 years it has run a budget surplus that has been applied to the reduction of the national debt. Canada is the fifth biggest exporter in the world.
- Gross Domestic Product in 2005 (GDP): 1,369 bn CAD
- GDP per capita in 2005: 42,464 CAD
- GDP growth in 2002: 3.4%; 2003: 1.7%; 2004: 2.75%; 2005: 2.9%
- Unemployment is 8%
- Canada has had a budget surplus for eight years in succession. In 2004 / 2005 this was 1.6 bn CAD.
- Public debt as percentage of GDP (2004/2005): 38.7%
- Inflation rate in 2005: 2.2%
Canada’s exports represent 41 per cent of GDP, and imports 39 per cent. Canada lies in fifth place in the world trade statistics after the EU, the USA, Japan and China. In 2004 exports were worth 266 bn EUR and imports 224 bn EUR. Canada's most important trading partner is the United States.
In a few key sectors (airlines, media), only minority participation by foreign investors is allowed.
The very close economic relationship with the USA represents both an opportunity and a threat for Canada's economic development.
It has made an essential contribution to Canada's accession to the ranks of the leading industrial nations, and today too its proximity to the USA is an important motive for foreign direct investment, which Canada actively courts with tax advantages and other incentives.
Foreign investment in Canada stands at 275 bn USD. Of this, 64 per cent comes from the USA and 27 per cent from the EU. Overall, however, Canada is a net exporter of investment. Canadian direct investment abroad is worth 306 bn USD.