Canada is a vast nation with a wide variety of geological formations, climates, and ecological systems.
It has rain forest, prairie grassland, deciduous forest, tundra,
and wetlands. Canada has more lakes and inland waters than any other country. It is renowned for its scenery, which attracts millions of tourists each year. On a per-capita basis, its resource endowments are the second richest in the world after Australia.
Canada is the second largest country in the world but has about the same population as the state of California, which is one-25th its size. This is because the north of Canada, with its harsh Arctic and sub-Arctic climates, is sparsely inhabited. Most Canadians live in the southern part of the country. More than three-quarters of them live in metropolitan areas, the
largest of which are Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa-Hull, and Edmonton, Alberta.
French and English are the official languages, and at one time
most Canadians were of French or English descent. However, diversity increased with a wave of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that brought in people from many other European nations. This trend continues on the eve of the 21st century: Canada is one of the few countries in the world that still have significant immigration programs.
Canada's prosperity and diversity have encouraged a variety of artistic pursuits. Most major cities have symphony orchestras, opera companies, classical and modern dance groups, and live theater. Canadian popular musicians have built highly successful careers both in Canada and in the world at large. Canadian writers have also gained worldwide recognition, as
have painters, sculptors, film makers, and architects. To nurture Canadian arts, the government has imposed quotas on foreign content in Canadian media.
Canada has impressive reserves of timber, minerals, and fresh water, and many of its industries are based on these resources.