Canada is the second largest country in the world. Only Russia has a greater land area. Canada is situated in North America. Canada is slightly larger than the United States, but has only about a tenth as many people. About 28 million people live in Canada. About 80% of the population live within 320 km of the southern border. Much of the rest of Canada is uninhabited or thinly populated because of severe natural conditions.
Canada is a federation of 10 provinces and 2 territories. Canada is an independent nation. But according to the Constitution Act of 1982, British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is recognized as Queen of Canada. This symbolizes the country's strong ties to Britain. Canada was ruled by Britain completely until 1867, when Canada gained control of its domestic affairs. Britain governed Canada's foreign affairs until 1931, when Canada gained full independence.
Canada's people are varied. About 57% of all Canadians have some English ancestry and about 32% have some French ancestry. Both English and French are official languages of the country. French Canadians, most of whom live in the provinces of Quebec, have kept the language and customs of their ancestors. Other large ethnic groups are German, Irish and Scottish people. Native people — American Indians and Eskimos — make up about 2% of the country's population. 77% of Canada's people live in cities or towns. Toronto and Montreal are the largest urban areas. Ottawa is the capital of the country.
Today, maintaining a sense of community is one of the major problems in Canada because of differences among the provinces and territories. Many Canadians in western and eastern parts of the country feel that the federal government does not pay enough attention to their problems. 80% of Quebec's population are French Canadians. Many of them believe that their province should receive a special recognition in the Canadian constitution.