Canada covers nearly 10 million squared kilometres which makes it the second largest country in the world after Russia. The Southern border with the United States stretches for 8,891 kilometres which makes it the longest border in the world. The population of the country is only 36 million which makes it one of the least populated countries in the world. The reason why it is sparsely populated is its position on a global scale. It is in the northern hemisphere extending from 42 to 83 degrees north. Although the summers are warm in the southern areas of the country the winters are very cold.
There are eight different climatic regions and the most typical type of ecosystem to prevail are Boreal Forests. However, there are great variations in landscape due to many reasons such as altitude, soils and latitude. The majority of the population live within 185 miles of the border the USA so are able to experience the warmer climatic conditions. The country stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west spanning six-time zones.
The shape of the country is similar to a massive bowl. In the far west there are the Cordilleras which are an extensive range of mountains providing the rim next to the Pacific Ocean. In the north the mountains of northern Labrador and Baffin Island plus, the Innuitian Mountains provides the boundary with Alaska. On the eastern side of the country the Appalachians provide the boundary to the Atlantic. The centre of the country is dominated by the Canadian Shield with the Hudson Bay virtually at its centre. Hudson Bay is the largest bay in the world occupying an area of 316,000 square miles.
In the Southern half of the country the Great Lakes provide a natural boundary between Canada and the United States. The only Great Lake that doesn’t is Lake Michigan which is found entirely in the States. The deposited sediment surrounding the lakes is another reason why the majority of Canada’s population has settled in this region. This rich land was formerly occupied by mixed forests, but most of these have been cut down because of urbanization and also for agricultural purposes. The far east of this area sees the St Lawrence River entering the Atlantic Ocean through one of the largest estuaries in the world.
Most of Canada’s arable produce is grown on the Canadian Interior Plains. This is a vast area spreading from east to west. The best farming is in the south of this region as the climate is warmer and the soils are more fertile. To the east the Interior Plain meets the Rocky Mountains which are part of the Cordillera range, and stretch up parallel to the western coastline of the country. The mountains are generally made up of sedimentary rocks but have been heavily glaciated, with huge U-shaped valleys, sharp arêtes and pointed peaks. There are still active glaciers in the region.
Further west of the Rockies is British Columbia and Vancouver Island. As well as this area being mountainous it is also home to some of the finest coniferous and temperate rainforests in the world. To the extreme North West is located the Northern Cordilleran Volcanic Province. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and is home to the only active volcanoes to be found on Canadian soil. There are 200 young volcanos in this region and are found within 5 different volcanic belts. The vastness of the country explains the wilderness feel to the region. Canada is home to the spectacular landscape and although this makes it an ideal location to visit, much of its land is not ideal for human settlement. This explains why the country is so sparsely populated.