Canada

Introduction to Canada

Students who have never been to Canada often have an image of it as the land of snow and hockey. What they find when they come to the country is quite different. Polar bears stick to the northern regions and there are beautiful seasons other than winter in Canada. Hockey is our national game but there are a thousand other sports and activities to choose from—some on sunny beaches, some near vast lakes or oceans, and some in the midst of busy modern cities.

Canada is a land of rich diversity, encompassing urban sophistication and abundant nature and wildlife. It is safe yet also exciting; stable yet also filled with adventure. It features cutting-edge technology,inspiring cultural icons, and a vibrant society that is open to everyone. Canadians tend to be modern, welcoming, and open-minded.

Across Canada are examples of excellence, innovation, and beauty, all of which—along with top-notch educational institutions—make Canada one of the leading study abroad destinations in the world.

Here are some quick facts about Canada:

Canada is a Wonderful Place to Live and Study: Since 2004, the United Nations has regularly ranked Canada in the top 10 countries in the world in its Quality of Life Index. Combining excellent educational institutions, an innovative economy, a tolerant and safe culture, and extraordinary beauty, Canada is an ideal destination for international students. In addition, praised for their overall stability, multiculturalism, clean environments, and world-class healthcare, and education systems, Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary rank third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in a 2014 Economist Intelligence Unit ranking of the world’s most livable cities.

Canadian Education Is World Class: Canada is also ranked #1 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for higher education
achievement—more than half of its citizens between the ages of 25 and 64 have a post-secondary education. The Times 2013–2014 World University Rankings placed eight Canadian universities in the top 200 (and four of these in the top 100). As well, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s prestigious 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed four Canadian institutions in its top 100, and 21 in the top 500.

Canada’s secondary school students excel in science, reading, and mathematics. In the 2012 PISA results testing Grade 10 students from 65 countries around the globe, Canada ranked 9th on the Reading Scale, 10th in Science, and 13th in Maths ahead of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and France. High-quality French and English language teaching are also reasons students choose Canada.

Canada Is Multicultural and Open to the World: Canada is officially bilingual (English and French),and across the country, more than 200 languages are spoken. The biggest cities, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, are home to many immigrant communities and one finds all sorts of ethnicities across the country. A tolerant culture is among the top Canadian values—informally, on the streets and public venues, and formally, in Canada’s laws and government. Of particular note is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that enshrines equality for all.

Canada Is Innovative: Canada’s educational institutions have long been incubators for innovation. The BlackBerry, flat-screen technology, SMART boards,
voice compression applications for cell phones and computers, and IMAX film are among the many revolutionary technologies invented and developed by men and women who studied in Canada.

Canada Produces Leaders: Among these are the environmentalist David Suzuki; the famous architect Frank Gehry (Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Walt Disney
Concert Hall, etc.); the economist John Kenneth Galbraith (who served in the administrations of US presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson); the cinematographer James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar); the author Margaret Atwood; musicians Justin Bieber, Sarah McLachlan, and Celine Dion; and actors Rachel McAdams, Jim Carrey, Kiefer Sutherland, and Ryan Gosling.

Canada Is a Highly Competitive Economy: Canada has one of the world’s most stable economies. Canada also boasts one of the fastest economic growth
rates among the G8 countries, and the International Monetary Fund predicts this trend to continue. The OECD has recently predicted that Canada will lead G-7 growth in the next 50 years. Moreover, it ranks:

• In the top 15 most competitive economies in the world (Source: Conference Board);
• 1st of all G-7 countries in economic growth between 2003–2012 (Source: OECD);
• 1st of the G-7 countries in ability to attract business due to sound economic infrastructure (Source: Global Infrastructure Investment Index);
• As the country with the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G-7 (Source: IMF);
• 1st among G8 countries for “soundest banking system” (Source: World Economic Forum);
• As the best place to do business in the world (Source: Forbes).

Canada Is a Major Player in Collaborative Research and Development: Many of Canada’s educational institutions are engaged in international research
partnerships to address major issues facing our world today. Canadian institutions recognize that Canadian research receives a crucial boost in terms of reputation and impact when quality international partners contribute. Many of the world’s most pressing problems are international in scope, and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

“Canadian research facilities attract thousands of foreign researchers each year and are helping to make Canada a hub for international research collaboration. In 2013, 11,678* researchers from around the world made use of state-of-the-art infrastructure, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, at Canadian universities and research hospitals. 670 projects at these centres have international linkages with a total of
88 countries.”

Population: Canada’s population is now just over 35 million, which is relatively small for a country of this size (since Canada is the second-largest country in
the world). Much of Canada’s vast area is still wilderness and most Canadians live in highly urbanized centers in the south; 80% of the population is concentrated within 160 kilometers of the southern (US) border.According to the last census in 2011, the largest Canadian cities are Toronto (5.5 million), Montreal (3.8 million), Vancouver (2.3 million), and Ottawa (1.2 million)

Government: Canada is considered to be a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Though the Governor General is officially the representative of
Queen Elizabeth II and serves as Head of State in Canada and abroad, Parliament—which includes the Canadian House of Commons and Senate—is sovereign, governed by the parliamentary process laid out in Canada’s constitution.

The Canadian Prime Minister is the leader of the political party whose representatives where elected to the most seats in the House of Commons and is
therefore considered to be the head of government. The Prime Minister appoints Ministers to his or her cabinet, which is the primary collective decision-making unit in the Canadian parliament. While Canada’s two main political parties tend to go back and forth in terms of who is in power, and other political parties are engaged in the democratic process, Canada’s government is overall incredibly stable and secure.

Useful Links