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Canada /ˈkænədə/ is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area. Canada's common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world.

The land that is now Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.

Canada is a federation that is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. One of the world's highly developed countries, Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G8, G-20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and UN.

Coat of arms of Canada (1957-1994).svg More about...Canada, its history and inhabitants

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Insignia given to female Officers of the Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is the highest civilian honour within the Canadian system of honours, with membership awarded to those who exemplify the order's Latin motto, taken from Hebrews 11:16, desiderantes meliorem patriam, meaning "They desire a better country."

Created in 1967, the order was established as a fellowship that recognizes the achievement of outstanding merit or distinguished service by Canadians, through life-long contributions in every field of endeavour, and who made a major difference to Canada, as well as the efforts made by non-Canadians who have made the world better by their actions. The Canadian monarch, at present Elizabeth II, is Sovereign of the order, and the serving Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, is its Chancellor and Principal Companion. Appointees into the order are selected by an advisory board and formally inducted by the Governor General; as of April 2008, 5,479 people have been appointed to the Order of Canada, including musicians, politicians, artists, athletes, television and film stars, benefactors, and others. Since 1994, non-honorary members are the only regular citizens who are empowered to administer the Canadian Oath of Citizenship.

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John Diefenbaker (September 18, 1895 – August 16, 1979) led Canada as its 13th Prime Minister, serving from June 21, 1957, to April 22, 1963. He was the only Progressive Conservative (PC, or Tory) party leader between 1930 and 1979 to lead the party to an election victory, doing so three times, although only once with a majority of the seats in the Canadian House of Commons.

In the House of Commons, he was repeatedly a candidate for the Tory leadership. He was finally successful in 1956, and led the party for eleven years. In 1957, he led the party to its first electoral victory in 27 years and a year later called a snap election and led it to one of its greatest triumphs. Diefenbaker appointed the first female minister to his Cabinet and the first aboriginal member of the Senate. During his six years as Prime Minister, his government obtained the passage of the Canadian Bill of Rights and granted the vote to members of the First Nations and Inuit peoples. In foreign policy, his stance against apartheid helped secure the departure of South Africa from the Commonwealth of Nations, but his indecision on whether to accept Bomarc nuclear missiles from the United States led to his government's downfall. Diefenbaker is also remembered for his role in the cancellation of the Avro Arrow.

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Parliament buildings

Parliament buildings of Canada
Credit: Crop by Jeff3000, original image by Matthew Samuel Spurrell

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Epigaea repens

Epigaea repens (Mayflower or Trailing Arbutus) is a low, spreading shrub in the Ericaceae family. Epigaea repens is the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts...

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Niagara Falls, view from Canada, with American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the left, Horseshoe Falls on the right.

Panoramic view of Niagara Falls
Credit: MamaGeek

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