Portal:Geography of Canada

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The Geography of Canada Portal
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Introduction

Geography by province and territory

The geography of Canada is vast and diverse. Occupying most of the northern portion of North America (41% of the continent), Canada is the world's second largest country in total area after Russia. Canada spans an immense territory between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Arctic Ocean to the north (hence the country's motto "From sea to sea"), with the United States to the south (contiguous United States) and northwest (Alaska), and the Arctic Ocean to the north; Greenland is to the northeast. Off the southern coast of Newfoundland lies Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, an overseas collectivity of France. Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60°W and 141°W longitude to the North Pole; however, this claim is contested. Canada's abundance of natural resources is reflected in their continued importance in the economy of Canada. Major resource-based industries are fisheries, forestry, agriculture, petroleum products and mining.

The flora of Canada is quite diverse, due to the wide range of ecoregions and environmental conditions present in Canada. From the warm, temperate broadleaf forests of southern Ontario to the frigid Arctic plains of the Northern Canada, from the wet temperate rainforests of the west coast to the arid deserts, badlands and tundra plains, the biodiversity of Canada's plants is extensive. About 4,100 species of vascular plants are native to Canada, and about 1,200 additional non-native species are recorded as established outside cultivation there.

The fauna of Canada is considered to be diverse across Canada, ranging from lush forests of British Columbia, to the prairies of Western Canada, to the tundra of the Northern Canada. With a large land mass, and small population density, the wildlands of Canada provide important habitat for many animals, both endangered and not. Canada is home to approximately 70 000 known species of plants and animals - and perhaps many more that have yet to be discovered.

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Niagra Falls at night2.jpg
The Niagara Falls are voluminous waterfalls on the Niagara River, straddling the international border between the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York. The falls are 17 miles (27 km) north-northwest of Buffalo, New York and 75 miles (120 km) south-southeast of Toronto, Ontario, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.

Niagara Falls is composed of two major sections separated by Goat Island: Horseshoe Falls, the majority of which lies on the Canadian side of the border, and American Falls on the American side. The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also located on the American side, separated from the main falls by Luna Island.

The Niagara Falls are renowned both for their beauty and as a valuable source of hydroelectric power. Managing the balance between recreational, commercial, and industrial uses has been a challenge for the stewards of the falls since the 1800s.

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Rain forest along Olympic Coast.jpg
The Pacific temperate rain forests coregion of North America is the largest temperate rain forest ecoregion on the planet as defined by the World Wildlife Fund (other definitions exist). The Pacific temperate rain forests lie along the western side of the Pacific Coast Ranges along the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America from the Prince William Sound in Alaska through the British Columbia Coast to Northern California, and are part of the Nearctic ecozone, as also defined by the World Wildlife Fund. The Pacific temperate rain forests are characterized by a high amount of rainfall, in some areas more than 300 cm (120 inches) per year and moderate temperatures in both the summer and winter months (between 10-24°C).

The forests in the north contain predominantly Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock, while those in the coastal forests are home as well to Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), Coast Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Western Redcedar and Shore Pine. Notably, the three tallest species of trees are found here. Dense growths of epiphytes and mosses cover the trees, and lush vegetation is present everywhere.

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Snowy Owl Barrow Alaska.jpg
The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large owl of the typical owl family Strigidae. The Snowy Owl was first classified in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who developed binomial nomenclature to classify and organize plants and animals. The bird is also known in North America as the Arctic Owl or the Great White Owl.

Until recently, it was regarded as the sole member of a distinct genus, as Nyctea scandiaca, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data (Olsen et al. 2002) shows that it is very closely related to the horned owls in the genus Bubo. The Snowy Owl is the official bird of Quebec. This species of owl nests on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound or boulder. A site with good visibility, ready access to hunting areas, and a lack of snow is chosen. Gravel bars and abandoned eagle nests may be used. Breeding occurs in May, and depending on the amount of prey available, clutch sizes range from 5 to 14 eggs, which are laid singly, approximately every other day over the course of several days.

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NLW BonneBay4 tango7174.jpg
Rocky Harbour, Bonne Bay, Western Newfoundland, Canada.

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NLC TerraNova2 tango7174.jpg
Terra Nova National Park is located on the northeast coast of the island of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, along several inlets of Bonavista Bay. The park takes its name from the latin name for Newfoundland.

Terra Nova's landscape is typical of the northeast coast of Newfoundland, with remnants of the Appalachian Mountains contributing to widely varied and rugged topography throughout the region. The park's seacoast consists of several rocky "fingers" jutting into Bonavista Bay along an area stretching from just north of Port Blandford to the vicinity of Glovertown. The coastline varies from cliffs and exposed headlands to sheltered inlets and coves, contributing to Newfoundland's prime recreational boating area.

Inland areas consist of rolling forested hills, exposed rock faces, and bogs, ponds and wetlands. Wildlife protected by the park range from small to large land mammals, migratory birds, and various marine life. Terra Nova also protects an area containing remnants of the Beothuk Nation, as well as many of the early pioneer European settlements in the region.

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QuakiesSEP2005.JPG
Populus tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America. The species is referred to Quaking Aspen, Trembling Aspen, and Quakies, names deriving from its leaves which flutter in the breeze. The tree-like plant has tall trunks, up to 25 metres, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red, in Autumn. A tall, fast growing tree, usually 20–25 metres (66–82 ft) at maturity, with a trunk 20–80 centimetres (7.9–31 in) in diameter; records are 36.5 meters (120 ft) in height and 1.37 metres (4.5 ft) in diameter. The bark is relatively smooth greenish-white to gray and is marked by thick black horizontal scars and prominent black knots.
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