The Best Places to Visit in Canada for 2017

Occupying nearly half of the North American continent, Canada is a vast and beautiful land, consisting of ten provinces and three northern territories. The country extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. With nearly 10 million square kilometers of total land space, Canada is the second largest in the country in the world by area (after Russia), and the border it shares with its southern neighbor, the United States, is the longest continuous land border in the world between two countries.

The 10 provinces of Canada all feature a number of unique and interesting aspects and attractions. Below we have provided some detailed information about two of these provinces, the beautiful regions of British Columbia and Ontario.

British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada’s 10 provinces, bordering the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho and Montana to the south, the province of Alberta to the east, the Northwest and Yukon territories to the north, and Alaska to the northwest.

British Columbia entered the Canadian federation in 1871, adopting the provincial motto “splendor without diminishment.” The province’s capital is the beautiful city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, a gorgeous stretch of land just off the Pacific Coast. Leading the province today is British Columbia’s 29 Lieutenant Governor, the Honorable Judith Guichon, and Premier Christy Clark, the province’s 35 premier and the leader of the B.C. liberal party.

British Columbia has a population of approximately 4.7 million inhabitants and is home to people of many different origins, cultural traditions, languages, ethnicities, and religions.

The province plays host to a diverse population of Aboriginal people, including approximately 200 First Nations, such as the Gitxsan, Haida, Nisga’a and Squamish. The top 10 languages spoken in B.C. are now (according to the 2011 Census): English, Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin), Punjabi, German, Tagalog, French, Korean, Spanish, and Farsi. Each year, over 34,000 immigrants from around the world arrive and settle in British Columbia.
The total land and freshwater area in British Columbia is approximately 95 million hectares, an area larger than France and Germany combined. In fact, only 30 countries in the world are larger than the massive province. British Columbia occupies about 10 per cent of Canada’s total land surface.

British Columbia boasts a total of 1,030 provincial parks and protected areas, attracting nearly 20 million visitors every year. Since 2001, the provincial government has established 84 new parks, 156 conservancies, two ecological reserves and 13 protected areas. B.C. has also expanded more than 75 parks, six ecological reserves, three protected areas and is protecting more than 2.3 million hectares (an area over four times the size of Prince Edward Island.). This includes 200,000 hectares of habitat for the world-famous Spirit Bear, B.C.’s official mammal. Today, approximately 15 percent (or more than 13.9 million hectares) of British Columbia is protected—more than any other province in Canada.

British Columbia is Canada’s third-largest generator of hydroelectricity, providing some of the lowest power costs in North America. The province is Canada’s second-largest natural gas producer, and the oil and gas industry continues to see tremendous growth in the northeast.
In 2013, the B.C. liberals were reelected for a fourth term. The people of the province are represented by 85 members of the Legislative Assembly. Nationally, the 308-seat House of Commons and 104-seat Senate in Ottawa include 36 elected Members of Parliament (MPs) from B.C. and six B.C. senators appointed by the federal government.

Small businesses make up over 98 percent of British Columbia’s businesses, and provide jobs for 56 percent of all British Columbians working in the private sector. Corporate income taxes in the province are among the lowest in the country, and combined with federal tax reductions, the general corporate income tax rate in B.C. is among the lowest of the G7 nations. B.C. currently has the lowest provincial personal income taxes in Canada for individuals earning up to $122,000 a year.

British Columbia is North America’s fourth-largest film and television production center, an industry that now rakes in nearly 1.2 billion annually and directly employs about 25,000 people. Indirect jobs generated by the industry fuel the construction, tourism, and small business sectors. B.C. offers two distinct tax credit programs for the film and television industry: the Production Services Tax Credit and the Film Incentive B.C. Tax Credit. These labor-based incentives provide refundable tax credits to eligible production companies.

If you are a student looking to further your education, British Columbia is a great place to settle. The province is home to a number of world-renowned post-secondary institutions, ranging from the University of British Columbia to the University of Victoria to Simon Fraser University. In 2013, more than 440,000 students enrolled in at least one course at British Columbia’s 25 public post-secondary institutions—taking classes at one of 130 campuses, satellite or learning centers across the province. Since 2001 more than 32,000 student seats and seven new public university campuses have been added to the public post-secondary system; 2,500 new graduate student spaces have been funded in the last five years. There are currently more than 33,000 apprentices in the trades training system, more than double the number of apprentices registered in 2004. In addition, there are over 9,000 industry employers currently sponsoring apprentices throughout the province. In May 2012, B.C. released its International Education Strategy to promote the two-way global flow of students, educators and ideas between countries. B.C.’s high-quality education system has been very successful in attracting students from around the world, with the latest figures showing more than 100,000 international students in B.C.

Because of its natural beauty and cosmopolitan cities, British Columbia is a tourist’s haven. Last year, the tourism industry in B.C. contributed $13.4 billion to the provincial economy up 40 percent since 2001. The tourism industry provides a job for roughly 1 in 15 employed British Columbians, and has been identified as a key growth sector in The BC Jobs Plan.

Top Sights and Attractions in British Columbia

Set between the Pacific Ocean in the west and the magnificent Rocky Mountains in the east, British Columbia brims with astounding landscapes and impressive geographical diversity. As Canada’s westernmost province, British Columbia features a superb blend of inspiring outdoor recreation and cosmopolitan culture, with hundreds of fun and interesting sites to explore. Some of the province’s more popular attractions include:

Glacier National Park, British Columbia

Known as “North America’s Crown Jewel,”Glacier National Park in British Columbia boasts more than 700 miles of maintained trails, sparkling lakes, alpine glaciers, and deep forests.
Yoho National Park

One of Canada’s 41 impressive national parks, Yoho is home to surging waters, looming peaks, pounding waterfalls, glacial lakes, and gorgeous patches of pretty meadows.

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Kootenay National Park

From glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divide to the semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, where cactus grows,Kootenay National Park is noted for its diversity of landscapes, ecology, and climate.


Mt Revelstoke National Park of Canada

A drive along the summit parkway in Mt. Revelstoke National Park will take you through a variety of geographical zones. Visitors to the park can spend one day experiencing the dense growth of the giant cedar and pine forests, and the next traveling through miles of alpine meadows and tundra.

Ainsworth Hot Springs

Situated in an ideal spot overlooking the beautiful Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, Ainsworth Hot Springs is a must-visit for anyone visiting this gorgeous province. Guests to this site can experience the unique horseshoe shaped cave, where the darkness, mineral deposits and humidity combine for a unique hot springs experience. In addition to the hot springs pool and caves, this attraction also offers first-class accommodations, a trendy lounge and superb dining; there is also an excellent gift shop on the premises.

Artisans of Crawford Bay

Guests to Crawford Bay should definitely take some time to visit the impressive gathering of artisan studios located there, where they can watch craftsman such as broom makers, glass blowers, and blacksmiths ply their trade.

Ontario, Canada

The province of Ontario in Canada is home to some 12 million people, making it the most populous of all the Canadian provinces (Ontario is home to one in three Canadians). From a geographic standpoint, Ontario is Canada’s second-largest province, covering more than one million square kilometers (415,000 square miles) of total area, including roughly 895,000 square km of land space and 177,000 square kilometers of water, including 250,000 lakes and about one-third of the world’s fresh water.

The capital and largest city in Ontario is Toronto, home to approximately 4 million inhabitants as of the last census. Toronto is located on Lake Ontario and is the commercial, industrial and financial center of Canada.

Ontario’s flag is the “Red Ensign.” It includes the Union Jack, representing Ontario’s ties to Great Britain, and the Coat-of-Arms of the Province. The Coat-of-Arms of the Province consists of a green shield with three golden maple leaves surmounted by the Banner of St. George, a red cross on a silver background. The banner indicates Ontario’s close ties with Britain, while green and gold are Ontario’s official colors; green symbolizes the land. Above the shield is a bear, with a moose and a deer supporting the shield; all representing the rich animal life of Ontario. The Latin motto is translated as “Loyal She Began, Loyal She Remains.” The shield was granted by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria in 1868, and the crest, supporters and motto by Royal Warrant of King Edward VII in 1909.

Other official symbols of Ontario, Canada include:

Official Flower. The official flower of Ontario is the trillium, a delicate white three-petal flower that grows in profusion in the wild woodlands of the province in early spring.

Official Gem. Amethyst, the rich purple semi-precious stone, is the official gem of Ontario. Large deposits of the gem are found in Northwestern Ontario.

Official Tree
. The Eastern White Pine, Ontario’s official tree, was an important source of income and trade during days of early settlement, and continues to be a valuable resource for Ontario today.

Official Bird. The Common Loon was adopted as Ontario’s official bird on June 23, 1994.

Perhaps the most diverse and cosmopolitan province in Canada, Ontario offers a number of unique experiences for every person in your group. No matter what your special interests are, Ontario offers an incredible variety of ways to indulge your passions.

Scores of museums and galleries can be found throughout Ontario, particularly in the urban centers of Toronto and Ottawa, the nation’s capital. Together these museums allow guests to absorb the lovingly-preserved history of Canada and learn more about the nation’s culture. Other experiences to be had in Ontario include:

Study the Aboriginals. In Ontario, visitors can

experience the spirit, culture and legends of the people who walked this land before recorded time.

Spas. Ontario is home to scores of relaxing spas where guests can re-energize and soother their bodies and souls.

Witness the Changing of the Seasons. Whether you decide to drive along the edge of Ontario’s pristine forests or take one of the many train excursions offered there, you will simply be dazzled by the showy display of fiery color.

Wine and Dine. Ontario is the ideal locale for sampling a huge menu of tempting culinary adventures, from sumptuous dining in the some of the province’s 5-star restaurants, to sampling award-wines to taking a tour of some wonderful Canadian cooking schools.

Shopping. Feeling the urge to shop? If so, Ontario has everything you need to satisfy your urge to splurge in scores of trendy one-of-a-kind boutiques, upscale malls, factory outlets, antique shops and more.

Arts, Culture, Theater. Visual and performing arts centers abound in the bustling province of Ontario, where visitors can share their love for these various mediums with everything from opera to ballet to scintillating theater and hilarious improvisational and stand-up comedy.

Sports and Gaming. Ontario is home to seven professional sports team, including baseball, basketball, football, and hockey, the national sport of Canada. There are also plenty of thoroughbred racing venues and a host of decadent casinos.

Gardens. Discover hundreds of beautiful reasons for visiting Ontario while perusing the seemingly endless array of floral havens, botanical gardens and conservatories.

Top Sites and Attractions in Ontario

It would literally take a lifetime to see all the fun and interesting sites Ontario has to offer. To help you get started, below we have listed some of the more popular sites and attractions to see while visiting this beautiful province.

Royal Ontario Museum

Celebrating its centennial in 2014, the multidisciplinary Royal Ontario Museum is Canada’s biggest natural history museums and one of the largest museums in North America.

CN Tower

Toronto’s iconic and very useful CN Tower, a marvel of 1970s engineering, resembles a giant concrete hypodermic needle. Its function as a communications tower, however, takes a backseat to its relevance as a tourist attraction, as riding those glass elevators up the highest freestanding structure in the world (553m) is one of those things you just have to do in this life.

High Park

Toronto’s favorite and best-known recreational locale, High Park is a wonderful place to unfurl a picnic blanket, swim, play tennis, bike around, skate on the Grenadier Pond in the winter, or in the spring meander through the groves of cherry blossoms, donated to the park by the Japanese ambassador in 1959.

St Lawrence Market

Old York’s sensational St Lawrence Market has been a neighborhood meeting place for over two centuries. The restored, high-trussed 1845 South Market plays host to more than 50 specialty food stalls, including cheese vendors, fishmongers, butchers, bakers and pasta makers.

Casa Loma
Toronto’s only true castle, Casa Loma may have never housed actual royalty, but it certainly has its share of grandeur and opulence. Overlooking a cliff that was once the shoreline of the glacial Lake Iroquois, from which Lake Ontario derived, this is definitely a must- see attraction when visiting Ontario.

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre

A restored masterpiece, the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre is the world’s last operating double-decker theater. Celebrating its centennial in 2013, the Winter Garden was built as the flagship for a vaudeville chain that never really took off, while the downstairs Elgin was converted into a movie house in the 1920s.

Distillery District

Built around the Gooderham and Worts distillery that began in 1832, the 12-acre Distillery District is one of Toronto’s best downtown attractions. Its Victorian industrial warehouses have been converted into soaring galleries, artist studios, design boutiques, cafes and tasty eateries.

What are the Top and Best places to visit in The United States?


The United States is a large country, the fourth-largest in the world by area after Russia, Canada and China, with a total of 3.6 million square miles of total land area. The country is divided into 50 states of various sizes, ranging from the very large states of Alaska and Texas, with a combined area of approximately 932,000 square miles, to the very small states of Rhode Island and Delaware, with a combined area of only 4,000 square miles. The sizes of the various states, however, do not always correspond to the population. Alaska, for example, the largest state in the country by area, ranks only 48 in population (731,000), while New York, the third most populous state in the union (19.5 million), ranks only 27 in area (55,000 square miles).

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Perhaps one of the greatest attributes of the United States is its amazing geographic and climatic diversity, as well as the diversity of its people. The country stretches from its eastern borders along the Atlantic Ocean to the western coastlines of the Pacific, and from the north where it borders Canada to the south where it reaches Mexico and the Gulf. In between are a variety of environments, from barren deserts and rugged mountains, to sweeping prairies and humid rainforests. There is also Hawaii, a tropical paradise located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; and Alaska, an arctic wonderland situated in the far northwest of the North American continent. Collectively these regions play host to one of the most diverse populations in the world, with people who can trace their ancestry back to places in every corner of the earth.

If you plan to visit or relocate to the United States in the near future you’ll no doubt be amazed by the country’s incredible diversity, particularly in terms of climate, culture, population, lifestyle, and the variety of sights and attractions to see. To give you a small taste of what you can expect upon arriving in America, below we have put together a brief profile of two of its most popular, yet very different destinations: the cities of Houston Texas and San Francisco, California.


Founded on August 30, 1836 by brothers Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen, Houston is the largest city in the U.S. state of Texas, and the fourth most populous city in the nation (after New York, Los Angeles and Chicago). Houston is the largest city and the governmental seat of Harris County. As of the last census, the city had an estimated population of 2.1 million. Moreover, the entire Houston Metropolitan area, known as the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area, or Houston CMSA, had a population of 5.95 million, a 26 percent increase since 2000, making it the 6 largest Metropolitan region in the United States. The Houston CMSA consists of eight counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller. Collectively this region covers an area of 8,778 square miles, an area larger than the entire state of New Jersey.

Houston is located in the southeastern corner of Texas, not far from the Louisiana border. Its official geographic position in terms of latitude and longitude is 29 degrees 45 minutes north and 95 degrees 22 minutes west, respectively. The climate of Houston, which sits at 43 feet above sea level, consists of cool winters and, hot humid summers. This humidity can be largely attributed to Houston’s close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and its climate is shared by a number of neighboring states in the southern region.

Like most of Texas, Houston is known to be a very conservative city, with the majority of its voters opting with Republican candidates in national elections. Its economy is one of the largest in the United States, so large, in fact, that if Houston was an independent nation it would rank as the world’s third-largest economy.

Houston is a very diverse community; a community in which nearly 90 different languages are spoken. In total there are 92 consular offices located within this huge metropolis, the third highest ratio in the nation. The city is home to more than 500 cultural, visual and performing arts organizations, 90 of which are devoted to multicultural and minority arts, and is one of five U.S. cities that offer year-round resident companies in all of the major performing arts.

Houston is one of the most oft-visited cities in the United States, with its three-airport system serving 49.5 million passengers last year alone, including over 7 million international travelers. Each year, millions of people flock to this multi-cultural southern jewel to soak up a bit of Americana and to take part in its many exciting sights and attractions. Houston is home to over 11,000 restaurants, ranging from award-winning five-star eateries to quaint delicatessens. Its theater district is second only to New York, consisting of more than eight performing arts organizations and more than 12,000 seats. The city has a unique museum district offering a wide range of choices, including art and history museums; the Museum of Natural Science; galleries; a children’s museum and several cultural institutions. Collectively, the number of things to do and see in Houston is simply staggering, including the following popular attractions:

Johnson Space Center

For those looking for an authentic behind the scenes look at the inner workings of NASA, the NASA Tram Tour at the Johnson Space Center in Houston is a must-see when visiting this beautiful city. Highlights of the tour include a glimpse into the astronaut training program for the International Space Station, a look at the development of deep-space missions, and some real-life examples of the latest robotic technologies, which are currently playing an important role in the exploration of Mars.


Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium in Houston is a great destination for family fun and a blast for anyone interested in the colorful and captivating world of the sea. In addition to the hundreds of varieties of marine life on display, visitors can check out the sunken shipwreck exhibit and the tanks filled with red-bellied piranhas, venomous sting rays and sharks. There are also a number of land-based attractions at this fun-filled park, including Ferris wheel rides for the young and the young at heart; a white tiger exhibit; and a rain forest bursting with colorful bird species. There is even a genuine Louisiana-style swamp, complete with alligators, snapping turtles and spotted gar.


Houston Zoo

Houston Zoo The Houston Zoo is one of America’s largest zoos, with more than 4,500 animals across hundreds of different species. From its recently-opened Galapagos tortoise and jaguar exhibits, to its popular red panda display, the Houston Zoo offers hours upon hours of interactive and educational fun. The petting zoo allows children to get up close and personal with a number of barnyard animals and there are dozens of restaurants and snack stands throughout the park with various treats for sale. The zoo also schedules special “Photo Days” throughout the year, where photogs can take advantage of a variety of light, weather and horticultural conditions when snapping their favorite pictures.


San Francisco

San Francisco is the fourth-largest city in California and is coextensive with San Francisco County. One of the more popular places to visit in the Golden State, it is located in the northern part of the state between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, situated on a narrow arm of land that embraces San Francisco Bay, the largest land-locked harbor in the world.

San Francisco is located on a small seven-by-seven mile (11 x 11 km) square of land at the tip of a peninsula. It has a population of 815,000 in the city alone, but it is also the center of a metropolitan area of 7.1 million. San Francisco is just one of the cities which make up the entire San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco’s neighbors – municipalities to the east of the Bay Bridge, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and south of the city are all part of separate counties, each with their own governments and local public transportation systems.

The roots of San Francisco can be traced back to Nov 7, 1595, when a Franciscan father who was sailing with Sebastián Rodríguez Cermeño named the bay “San Francisco.” In 1776, the Spaniards established a presidio, or military post, and a Franciscan mission on the end of the beautiful peninsula. In the following year, a little town was founded around the mission. It was called Yerba Buena, Spanish for “Good Herb,” because mint grew in abundance there. In 1846, during the Mexican War, Yerba Buena was taken over by the United States. It was renamed San Francisco in 1847 and became incorporated as a city in 1850.

When gold was discovered in California in 1848, the city’s population jumped to 10,000, and it experienced turbulent years until order was reestablished by Vigilance Committees, first in 1851, and again in 1856. Then followed a period of more orderly growth, and the foundations of the great commerce and industry of today were laid.

In 1906, San Francisco experienced the United States’ most devastating earthquake, which together with the horrific fire that followed, nearly destroyed the city completely. The city was rapidly rebuilt, however, and grew quickly as a leading transportation, industrial, and cultural center. In the 1800s, the American explorer and soldier John C. Frémont, known as “The Pathfinder,” named the entrance to the San Francisco bay the “Golden Gate,” and years later, the famous bright orange Golden Gate Bridge was dedicated in May 1937.

The port of San Francisco, covering seven and a half miles of waterfront, is a vital part of the economic and cultural fabric of northern California. The port plays host to a wide range of commercial, maritime, and public activities, and its major shipping terminals serve shipping lines from around the world. The electronics and biotechnology industries are also well represented throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area, with nearly 30% of the worldwide biotechnology labor force and 360 biotech firms located in the region. Because of this, the Bay Area has earned the nickname the “Bionic Bay.” San Francisco is also the banking and financial center of the West and is home to a Federal Reserve Bank and a United States Mint. More than 60 foreign banks maintain offices in this very cosmopolitan city.

San Francisco is the centerpiece of California’s Bay Area and is well-known for its (very) liberal community, hilly terrain, Victorian architecture, scenic beauty, summer fog, and great ethnic and cultural diversity. These are just a few of the many aspects of the city that make it one of the most visited cities in the world, with millions of local and international visitors each year. In fact, tourism is one of San Francisco’s largest industries and the largest employer of city residents. In 2012 alone, more than 17 million people visited San Francisco, and visitor spending was $7.6 billion, providing 82,000 jobs.

San Francisco is homes to hundreds of interesting sites and attractions, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Hyde Street Pier, Pier 39 and AT&T Park, home of the reigning World Champions of Major League Baseball, the San Francisco Giants. Other popular attractions in the city include:

The Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge The vaulting orange arches, amidst the rocky seascape of the San Francisco Bay, have long made the Golden Gate Bridge one of the West Coast’s most enduring symbols and the city’s most popular tourist attraction. The bridge’s name, “Golden Gate” actually refers to the brilliant reflection of the sun upon the bay’s inlet — just west of the bridge — rather than the bright orange paint that sets it apart from its mundane sister bridge just to the south, the Bay Bridge. The Bridge is accessible all day, every day by bus, car or bicycle. If you plan to drive, parking is convenient and accessible, and costs about $6. Souvenir shops and public restrooms lie on either side of the bridge.


Alcatraz Island

When visiting San Francisco you simply must make time for the tour to Alcatraz Island, where you can pay your respects to one of the world’s most infamous prisons. The menacing buildings are no longer in use (its last inmate left in 1963), but thanks in large part to Hollywood films, such as Birdman from Alcatraz, Escape from Alcatraz, and The Rock, Alcatraz Prison remains a popular tourist stop, attracting over a million visitors each year. The audio tour, featuring interviews with former inmates and guards, is powerful, chilling and quite evocative.

The Mission District

San Francisco’s Mission District has long attracted the city’s young bohemian crowd, but that hasn’t prevented it from retaining its authentic, local Mexican roots and ambience. As the place that actually first introduced the burrito, the Mission District is home to scores of Mexican eateries, ranging from fancy sit-down establishments to delicious-hole-in-the-wall taco stands. With dozens of mural-lined streets, bookstores, boutiques and bodegas, the Mission District is a great neighborhood for resting and relaxing and for escaping the heavily visited tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf. For an excellent view of the city, walk to the nearby Bernal Heights Hill, or check out Dolores Park, the most popular spot for sunbathers on a fogless day.

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Is it Safe to Travel to Japan Right Now?

facts about japan

Japan’s health care systems are developed and modern. A high level of medical care is available in major cities. Public health services, including free screening examinations for particular diseases, prenatal care, and infectious disease control, are provided by national and local governments.

 Japan’s health care systems

Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal medical insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments.

Health risks include Japanese encephalitis transmitted by mosquitoes and tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease. Take protective measures if you are exposed to insects. Typhoid is also a risk so exercise caution in terms of food and drink.

Japan has relatively low crime against foreigners but pick-pocketing and petty theft is common in the urban centers.

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Why not plan a Mesmerizing Travel to Brazil?

Brazil, officially known as the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country both on the South American continent and in the entire Latin American region. By total geographic area and population, Brazil is the world’s fifth-largest country. It is also the world’s largest Portuguese-speaking nation in the world and the only one in the Americas.

Occupying nearly 50 percent of South America, Brazil borders nearly every other country on the continent, the only two exceptions being Ecuador and Chile. It is bordered by Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and the French region of French Guiana to the north; Colombia to the northwest; Bolivia and Peru to the west; Argentina and Paraguay to the southwest; and Uruguay to the south. The country has an enormous coastline measuring some 4,600 miles (7491 km), formed by the Atlantic Ocean, which lies to Brazil’s east. Brazilian territory also includes a number of archipelagos, such as Fernando de Noronha; Rocas Atoll; Saint Peter and Paul Rocks; and Trinidad and Martim Vaz.

Brief History of Brazil

Urubici, Santa Catarina, BrazilBrazil was officially “discovered” in the first year of the 16 century (1500), when a fleet led by Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese diplomat destined for India, landed in Porto Seguro, between what is now Salvador and Rio de Janeiro.

Met by the Tupinambo Indians, one of many native Amerindian groups in the region, the early colonists, by order of the Portuguese government, began harvesting Brazil’s vast supply of pau-brasil, the redwood trees that gave the country its name. Pau-brasil was valuable to the Portuguese for its dye-making properties. Initially, the Indians are thought to have willingly helped the colonists in their harvesting duties, but when the latter attempted to enslave the Indians, most of them fled and a great majority of the rest died of European diseases. Finally, to supplement their workforce, the colonists turned to the African slave trade.

religion of beazil

For 200 years following Cabral’s discovery, the Portuguese had to occasionally cope with foreign powers intent on exploiting Brazil’s vast supply of natural resources. Portugal entered into a treaty with Spain designed to set the boundaries for each country in their newly discovered lands, but the terms of that treaty were very vague and boundary disputes often surfaced. Additionally, countries such as England, France and Holland did not completely recognize the treaty, which was formed by Papal decree, and thus they aggressively sought the new lands for themselves.

Although population growth was fairly consistent in Brazil during the 16 century, those numbers began to grow exponentially in the 17 and 18 centuries. News that incredible supplies of emeralds, diamonds and gold were found in the Minas Gerais region of the colony brought Portuguese and other European settlers by the thousands. And while fortune hunters tried frantically to stake their claims, carpenters, masons, painters and sculptors rapidly came from all over Europe to build cities in a land that was once just a vast wilderness.

Towards the latter half of the 18 century (1763), the capital of Brazil was, for political and administrative purposes, moved to Rio de Janeiro. Brazil was thriving thanks to its exportation of sugar, cotton, tobacco, gold and diamonds, but when the Royal family arrived in 1808, chased from the motherland by Napoleon’s armies, the country underwent a series of major changes.

When King Dom Joao VI arrived in Brazil with his royal entourage, he began to completely transform the city. Building projects were initiated, including universities, banks and a national mint, and ports were opened, sparking an increase in trade. When Napoleon’s armies were defeated, Dom Joao VI returned to Portugal, installing as King of Brazil his son Pedro I to continue to his legacy. Pedro, however, had other ideas for the colony, and on September 7, 1822 he proclaimed Brazil’s independence from Portugal and established the Brazilian Empire. Nearly a decade later, amid a series of costly wars and unrest, Pedro I named his five-year old son, Pedro II, the new King of Brazil. After several regents served in his stead for the next nine years, Pedro II, at age fourteen, was deemed “of age” to rule the country by the Brazilian Parliament.

In 1888, the daughter of Pedro II officially ended slavery in the country. This did not sit well with the wealthy landowners, who bonded with the military to finish the monarchy altogether. The Royal Family was forced back to Portugal, and Brazil’s first republican government was formed in the fall of 1889. A long series of presidents followed, backed by strong coffee and rubber economies, and urban development grew rapidly in what would later become known as the Old Republic. In 1930, following the political assassination of his running mate, presidential candidate Getulio Vargas seized power through a military coup rather than elections, beginning a dictatorship that would last until 1945. He would later return to the political scene, running on a populist platform, and was elected president of the second Brazilian republic in 1951. Halfway through his term, however, Vargas was linked to the political assassination of a political rival, and with the military calling for his resignation, he shot himself.

The latter half of the 1960s saw a return to military rule in Brazil. A series of generals ruled the country for the next 20 years, and although the economy improved greatly during what is now known as “the miracle of the 1970s,” the prosperity did not last. Military rule ended—for the last time—in Brazil in 1985.

The Brazilian Constitution of 1988, whose development and ratification was overseen by then 80-year old president Tancredo Neves, outlined the parameters of the first free presidential election in 30 years. Since that time, Brazil has seen both good times and bad, but through it all democracy has continued to prevail.

Brazil: Economy and Organization

Brazil possesses the world’s seventh-largest economy by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It also has the world’s seventh-largest economy by purchasing power parity. A member of the BRIC group, Brazil has one of the fastest-growing economies on the planet, thanks in large part to a series of economic reforms which gave the country new international recognition and influence. The national development bank (BNDES) in Brazil plays a significant role for the country’s continued economic growth. Major exports in Brazil include iron-ore, soybeans, coffee, and transportation equipment.

Brazil is one of the founding members of the United Nations, Latin Union, CPLP, G20, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Ibero-American States, Mercosul and the Union of South American Nations. A regional power in Latin America, Brazil is also considered a middle power in international affairs, with some economists identifying the country as an emerging global power.

Government of Brazil

The Federative Republic of Brazil consists of 26 states and the Federal District of Brasilia. At the national level, the government of Brazil is separated into three distinct branches: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, each with a number of powers and duties as outlined in the Brazilian Constitution of 1988.

The executive branch of Brazil’s government is headed up by a directly-elected president, who serves as both head of the government and head of state. Working closely with the president is the Vice President, who runs on the same ticket as the President in Brazilian elections, and a Cabinet of Advisors, made up of twenty-four ministers of state who are each in charge of a specific government portfolio.

The legislative branch of Brazil’s government is divided between two houses or chambers: the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Each state, regardless of size, population, or affluence, elects three senators to represent that particular region. The number of Chamber Deputies each state elects to that house of the National Congress is based on its population, with the more populated states sending more individuals than those that are less populated.

Brazil’s judicial branch of government consists of two types of courts: Justica Comum, or “ordinary courts;” and Justica Especializada, specialized courts. The ordinary courts in Brazil operate at both the state and federal level. The federal judiciary, known as the Judiciary of the Brazilian Federal District, holds the same jurisdiction (in terms of subject matter) as the ordinary courts at the state level in that particular region, only the courts and jurists at the federal level are organized by the national government.

Specialized courts in Brazil operate solely at the federal level. These courts are divided into three categories, based on the subject matter in which they have jurisdiction: Military courts, Electoral Courts, and Labor Courts.

The two highest courts in Brazil are the Supreme Federal Court and the Superior Court of Justice. The Supreme Federal Court is known as the highest court in the land, charged with enforcing and protecting the Brazilian Constitution. The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court in Brazil with regard to all non-constitutional issues.

Brazil: Demographic

Brazil has a population of roughly 190 million people, making it the most populous country in Latin America and the fifth-most populous country in the world.

In terms of Brazil’s ethnic makeup, roughly 55 percent of the population is of European descent, mostly Portuguese, but also Spanish, Italian, French, English, German, and Eastern European. 38 percent of the population is of mixed culture, mostly a combination of European and Amerindian heritage, but also Asian and Middle Eastern. 6 percent of the population is of African lineage, while only 1 percent is native Amerindian.

Approximately 29 percent of the Brazilian population is between 0-14 years old, 66 percent is between 15-64 years old, and only 5 percent is age 65 years or older.

Immigration was and is a significant factor when it comes to the ethnic makeup and structure of the Brazilian population. During colonial times, Portuguese and African populations arrived in the northeastern region of Brazil. In the period ranging from 1821-1945, approximately 5.2 million Europeans immigrated to Brazil, most settling in the southern agricultural regions. Following World War I, the Japanese community in Brazil grew to become the largest expatriate Japanese group in the world, with more than one million immigrants arriving in Brazil over the course of a few short years.

Brazil: So Many Things to Love

Brazil is one of the world’s most vibrant and captivating countries. This giant of a nation in South America sparkles with its powdery white-sand beaches, pristine rain forests and bustling rhythm-filled mega-metropolises. The countless attractions in the country include the history and beauty of the enchanting colonial towns, the picturesque landscapes of red-rock canyons, thundering waterfalls and dazzling tropical islands. Add to that, Brazil’s immense biodiversity: legendary in scope, its diverse ecosystems boast the greatest collection of plant and animal species found anywhere on the planet.

Whether you plan to visit Brazil for a short time, perhaps as a student or for an extended holiday; or move here permanently, the country certainly offers no shortage of adventures, regardless of the size of your budget. Travelers can take a scenic horseback ride in the Pantanal, go kayaking in the flooded forests of the Amazon basin, scale rocky cliffs to breathtaking views, go whale watching off the golden coast, surf massive breaks off palm-tree dotted beaches and snorkel the crystal coastal reefs of the Atlantic. All of this and more is just part of the amazing Brazilian experience. Equally enjoyable is a do-nothing day under the bright brilliant Brazilian sunshine, just soaking up a tan on the plush beaches while sipping on a tasty caipirinha—Brazil’s national cocktail.

The most famous celebration in Brazil, known as Carnaval, storms through the country’s cities and towns with hip-shaking velocity each year, complete with dazzling costumes and days of carefree fun. However, Brazilians hardly regulate their passion for revelry to just a few weeks of the year. Wherever there’s music to be heard in Brazil, the people’s joyous lust for life tends to appear with it—whether dancing with Cariocas at Rio’s atmospheric samba clubs or following powerful drumbeats through the streets of Salvador.

With so much fun and excitement to be had in Brazil, it’s easy to see why the Brazilians are famous for saying, “Deus e Brasileiro (God is Brazilian).” How else could one explain the absolute embarrassment of natural and cultural riches to be found in this beautiful South American paradise?

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Don’t Miss the Golden Opportunity to Visit Philippines

The Philippine culture is rooted from its former colonizers such as Spain and the United States, and early trading partners like China, India and the Malays. Its history, customs, religion, language, art, cuisines are greatly influences by these foreign nations.

With 7,107 islands forming the archipelago, almost every island offers a unique variety of magnificent sites, historical monuments, breathtaking natural wonders, amazing flora and fauna, and vibrant traditions. The islands of Boracay, El Nido, Puerto Galera, and Amanpulo are known internationally for its white sands, clear blue waters, panoramic views, and warmest services and hospitality. The weather in the Philippines experiences a sunny and very enjoyable atmosphere at least half of the year making it a perfect vacation haven for foreigners who want to avoid very cold climate.

Various celebrations and festivities are celebrated in every city throughout the year. Most of these are part of the Christian traditions and customs. The Philippine population consists of almost 95% Christian believers, majority of which belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The Filipinos have a passion for celebrations and gives the warmest welcome and accommodation to its every visitor.

Being included in the list of newly industrialized emerging nations of the world, the Philippines has a promising economy if can sustain its present growth. Its currency, the Philippine Peso is dubbed as the best performing Asian currency in 2005. In 2007, its gross domestic product grew to 7.3%, the highest in 31 years. Because of its highly skilled professionals, the Philippines is now considered to be one of the business processing outsourcing (BPO) hubs in the world.

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“Thailand Languages” – Explore Your Kowledge Today

Thailand, known officially as the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly Siam, is an independent nation situated at the center of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia.  The country is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea and the southern limb of Burma.  Its maritime boundaries include Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand to the southeast, and Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea to the southwest.

A constitutional monarchy, Thailand is currently headed up by King Rama IX, the 9 king of the House of Chakri.  He has ruled Thailand since 1946, making him the longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thailand’s long history.

The capital and largest city in Thailand is Bangkok, which is also the country’s political, commercial, industrial and cultural hub.  Approximately three-quarters of the population are ethnically Thai, 14 percent Thai Chinese, and 3 percent is ethnically Malay.  The remainder belongs to several different minority groups, including the Mons, Khmers and various hill tribes.  This varied ethnic and cultural makeup adds to the linguistic diversity in Thailand, a newly industrialized country that traditionally attracts thousands of expatriates each year from various developed countries.

Languages Spoken in Thailand:  Thai

Thai, or more specifically, Siamese Thai, is the lone official language of Thailand, spoken by over eighty percent of the country’s sixty million people.  Thai is closely related to Lao, the official language of Laos; Shan, which is spoken in Burma; and a number of less significant languages associated with southern China and northern Vietnam.  Thai is used in all official capacities in Thailand, including education, government and the media.  Its standard is founded on the dialect of Bangkok, and it is written in the Thai alphabet, an abugida that evolved from the Khmer script.

A Brief History of the Thai Language

Thai textbook According to linguists, Thai is an “uninflected, primarily monosyllabic, tonal language” in the Tai-Kadai family of languages.  The spoken variety of Thai is thought to have originated in the region which now comprises the border between Vietnam and China, an idea which provides clues to the origin of the Thai people, an area of continued scholarly debate.  From a linguistic standpoint, Thai is related closely to the languages of Vietnam and Yunnan, in addition to those of Myanmar and Laos.

The written form of the Thai language was introduced in 1283 by the third king in the Sukhothai period, a man named Ramkhamhaeng.  Sukhothai, which was initially established in central Thailand in the early and mid-thirteenth century, represents the first major kingdom of the Thai.  Many linguists believe that the language spoken in Sukhothai resembled Proto-Tai in tonal structure. This early system consisted of three tones on syllables ending in a long vowel or a semi-vowel. On syllables ending in “p,” “t” or “k,” or in a glottal stop after a short vowel, a forth tone existed, althrough these syllables showed no tonal differentiation at all.  The Thai system of writing has undergone few changes since its introduction, a fact that allows modern Thai scholars to study inscriptions from the Sukothai era.  The writing borrowed elements of Pali, Sanskrit and Indian concepts, as well as a number of words from the Mon and Khmer.
Similar to L’Academie Française in France, Thailand boasts a governing body for the Thai language, known as the Royal Institute.  The Institute publishes an official Thai dictionary every few years, adding new words to the language as needed, often drawing on elements of Pali, Sanskrit and Mon.

Regional Dialects of the Thai Language

Within Thailand there are four major regional dialects, including Southern Thai, spoken in the southern provinces; Northern Thai or “Yuan,” spoken in the northern provinces that were once part of the independent kingdom of Lannathai; Northeastern Thai, which is very similar in nature to the Lao language; and Siamese Thai, the national language of the country, which is also referred to as Central Thai or Bangkok Thai.  The Siamese Thai dialect is used in most schools throughout Thailand, used for media and entertainment broadcasts, and is widely understood by a sizable majority of the population.  In addition to the four major regional dialects, there are also within Thailand a few minor dialects, such as the Phuan and Lue variations of the language, spoken only by very small pockets of the population.

It’s important to remember that the four primary dialects of the Thai language are not the same as the different language “registers”—forms of the language used in various social contexts and for different circumstances in Thailand.  Certain words, for instance, are used only by Thai royalty, thus creating a separate, but mutually understandable “royal language.”  Below is a brief look at the different language registers in the Siamese Thai language and the situations in which each is used:

Royal Thai.  Influenced by the Khmer language, Royal Thai is used when addressing members of the Royal family or when discussing their activities.

Religious Thai.  Based on Sanskrit and Pāli, Religious Thai is used when discussing Buddhism, the official national religion of Thailand, and when addressing monks and other religious leaders.

Formal Thai.  Also known as Elegant Thai, Formal Thai, in its official written form, includes respectful terms of address, and is used by many of the country’s newspapers and other media publications.

Rhetorical Thai.  Rhetorical Thai is used most commonly in public speaking.

Common Thai.  Common Thai, or Street Thai, is the informal register of the Thai language.  It is used for daily conversation between friends, family and colleagues—the most common form of Thai utilized in the country.

The five different registers of the Thai language are mutually intelligible for most of the country’s residents.  Street and Elegant Thai are the basis of all conversations, while Rhetorical, Religious and Royal Thai are taught in schools as part of the national curriculum.

The Thai Alphabet and Tones

Thai alphabet The Thai language is based on a phonetic alphabet consisting of 44 consonants and fifteen basic vowel forms.  The latter are arranged into roughly 32 vowel combinations.  In the written form of Thai, the characters are placed horizontally, left to right, with no intervening space, to form syllables, words and sentences.  The vowel “graphemes” are written above, below, before or after the consonant they modify, although the consonant always sounds first when the syllable is spoken. The vowel graphemes (and a few consonants) can be combined in a variety of ways to manufacture numerous compound vowels, known as diphthongs and triphthongs.

All syllables within the Thai language must contain a vowel, but they may begin or end with a consonant sound.  Syllables ending in a vowel are called “open syllables,’ while syllables ending in a consonant are called “closed syllables.”  Every syllable in the language is pronounced using one of five lexical tones: mid, high, low, rising, or falling.  Because of this, speaking Thai in the correct manner creates a variety of fluid, pleasing and melodic patterns—patterns which have resulted in the language being referred to as a “sing song” language by outsiders.

Thai alphabet

Not to be confused with the languages of China, the Thai language, like English, features an alphabetic or phonemic alphabet, meaning that the pronunciation of a given word is independent of its meaning.  Consequently, it is entirely possible to pronounce a word without knowing its definition.

Similar to about half of the world’s languages, Thai is a tonal language.  Ethnic Thais use lexical tones when speaking, each of which represents a certain pitch characteristic.  These tones must be used when speaking for the listener to properly understand what is being conveyed.

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The Culture, Traditions, and Heritage of Canada

Canada is a very large and diverse country in North America, the second largest country in the world with a total area of 6.2 million square miles (9.9 million km2).  The country, which consists of 10 provinces and 3 territories, is located in the far northern part of the North American continent, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans and northward into the islands of the Arctic Ocean.  Canada borders only one other country—its southern neighbor, the United States of America—with which it shares the world’s longest land border between two countries.

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Records show that the region now known as Canada has been inhabited for thousands upon thousands of years by various indigenous peoples.  In the late 1400s, British and French colonial expeditions explored the region, and later settled on Canada’s Atlantic coast.  During the French and Indian War of 1763, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to the British.  In the decades that followed, the population grew steadily, the territory was further explored and additional self-governing colonies were established under the British Crown.  On July 1, 1867, three such colonies federated, forming a federal dominion which established Canada.  Today Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth of England as its official head of state.

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Canada, which takes its name from the Iroquoian word Kanata, meaning “village,”is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, one that for centuries now has welcomed immigrants from every corner of the globe.  Its current population of roughly 35 million is made up of people with a variety of ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds, all of whom add to the wonderful culture that makes Canada such a popular place to live and visit.

The culture of Canada, similar to that of any country in the world, is a product of its history, geography, political system, etc.  As a settler nation, Canada has been shaped and molded by waves of migration that have collectively combined to form a unique and pleasing blend of customs, rituals, traditions and cuisine; cultural characteristics that have marked the socio-cultural development of the nation.  To gain a deeper understanding of Canada and the culture that defines it, below we will discuss a variety of the country’s most significant cultural traits, including language, religion, the arts, cuisine, sport, holidays and celebrations.

Culture of Canada:  Language

Canada is a bilingual country, with both English and French listed as official languages.  In matters of law and government, English takes precedence in all the provinces save for Quebec, with English versions of all statutes serving as the final arbiter in disputes over interpretation.Twenty years ago, the proportion of Canadians reporting English as their first language or mother tongue was just under 60 percent, while those reporting French as their mother tongue was around 25 percent.  Today the numbers show there is an even greater percentage of English speakers in the country (and Fewer French speakers), largely due to the large influx of Americans taking up residence in Canada.

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It is estimated that about 17 percent of all Canadians are bilingual—English and French—though these numbers are a regionalized phenomenon and do not necessarily represent the country as a whole.  In those provinces with the largest number of native French speakers, such as Quebec and New Brunswick, the percentage of bilingual people is 38 percent and 33 percent respectively.  On the other hand, the province of Ontario, which accounts for more than 30 percent of the total population, the English-French bilingual rate is only about 12 percent. These numbers are in part the result of the immigration patterns over time, which have seen the majority of immigrants gravitating toward Ontario, and in part because all official and commercial services in Ontario are conducted strictly in English, even though French is available by law, if not by practice.  Simply put, for those living outside of Quebec and New Brunswick, English-French bilingualism is gradually becoming less important in their everyday lives.

In addition to the two official languages of Canada, there are also many minority languages spoken in the country.  These languages can be traced back to the immigration patterns in Canada—patterns that have changed drastically over the years.  Following World War II, for example, the majority of Canadian immigrants hailed from Europe, and only 54 percent of these people had a non-official mother tongue (something other than English or French).  Of those that did not speak either French or English as their first language, about 25 percent reported that Italian, German or Greek was their mother tongue.  In contrast, since 80 percent of all Canadian immigrants arriving between 1991 and 1996 spoke a language other than English or French, with over half of them hailing from countries in Asia and the Middle East. Chinese was the first language of just under 25 percent of these immigrants, while Arabic, Punjabi, Tamil, and Persian together accounted for about 20 percent.

Today the minority languages of Canada continue to reflect the immigration patterns of the country.  Perhaps the biggest change has been the large number of Spanish-speaking immigrants who have recently settled in the country—over three-quarter of a million speakers who now represent the largest linguistic minority in Canada.  After Spanish, the most prevalent minority languages in Canada today are Italian (661,000 speakers), German (622,650), Chinese (472,080), Punjabi (456,090), Cantonese (434,720), Arabic (365,000), Dutch (350,500), Tagalog (324,120), and Hindi (299,600).  Studies show that while the number of non-official European-language speakers (except for Spanish) is gradually dwindling in Canada, languages such as Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Punjabi are on the rise.

Canada First People Camp Many indigenous languages are still spoken in Canada, although they account for only a small portion of non-official language speakers.  These languages are of great political and cultural importance in Canada, as First Nation groups assert greater and more compelling claims on political and cultural sovereignty.  Of these languages, only Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway are prevalent enough to be considered viable to survive in the long term.

Culture of Canada:  Religion

In Canada, as with many developed countries, religious affiliation is much more prevalent than religious observance, although official statistics vary by ethnic and religious group.  The majority of Canadians claim some type of religious affiliation, most often Christianity, although the number of people claiming no religious affiliation has steadily risen since the 1980s. Nonetheless, Canada is home to practitioners of many different faiths and belief systems.

While there is no official religion in Canada, the preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms refers to “God”, and the monarch carries the title of “Defender of the Faith” Moreover, Christianity seems to be recognized, if not promoted in Canadian statute, with such practices as swearing on a Bible during legal proceedings, and with official functions opening with a Christian prayer of some kind being very common.

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According to the latest available census data, 67 percent of the Canadian population self-identifies as Christian—38 percent Roman Catholic and 29 percent Protestant.  The most prevalent Protestant denominations in the country, listed in order, are United Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Canada, Baptist, Lutheran and Presbyterian.

Those with no religion affiliation whatsoever comprise the second-largest religious bloc in Canada, representing 24 percent of the total population.  These individuals include both Agnostics (people who claim no religious affiliation) and Atheists (people who do not believe in God or a higher power).

Due to its wide diversity of people, Canada is also home to several minority world religions that are practiced by small, yet significant proportions of the population.  In order of prevalence, these minority religions include: Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Judaism.  Additionally, there are several aboriginal religious practices that still continue among the groups that claim this indigenous lineage.

Over the last several decades, religious observance among the Canadian people has gradually declined, a trend similar to that found in many other industrialized countries.  This appears to be mostly a Christian phenomenon, as practitioners of some of the other world religions tend to make special efforts to maintain their religious observances as part of the process of retaining their original ethnic or cultural identity.  Some Christian religious groups have grown in membership, such as evangelical Christianity, but as a whole, the trend in Canada has been toward increasing secularism in both the public and private lives of the Canadian people.

Most of the religious officials in Canada are associated with the mainstream religions/churches they represent, although there are some ethnic differences.  For example, specialist religious practitioners, such as healers, are common in Portuguese communities such as the one in Toronto, as they are in many of the minority African faiths that are practiced sparsely in the country.

Most Canadians believe in the Christian model of the afterlife, of heaven and hell.  Burial practices vary by religious group, but for the most part funeral observances and burying procedures are the responsibility of the deceased’s family.

Culture of Canada:  The Arts

Just as they are in the United States and Western Europe, most artists in Canada are “self-supporting,” although only a small minority draws their entire income from their artistic efforts.  There are, however, several tax-funded programs, at all levels of the Canadian government, designed to support the arts and provide financial assistance to artists of all types.  The Governor General’s Awards are presented each year to artists, writers, musicians, and other performers. There is also a federal National Art Gallery, and most provinces have one major tax-funded art gallery, usually in the provincial capital.

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Canadian Literature

Unlike Europe and the United States, Canada does not have a single national literary tradition, but participates instead in the wider English world of literature.  Of course there are many internationally renowned authors from Canada, but in general there is no single canon yet of Canadian literature as a whole.  One exception to this rule is the province of Quebec, where there is a venerable “national” literature renowned for its social criticism and experimentation.

In the last 30 years, the number of published Canadian writers has increased dramatically,  and as a cultural point, the Canadian community buys and reads more books than those in most other industrialized nations.  Nonetheless, no special preference has yet to be given to Canadian literature.

Graphic Arts

Canada boasts a legion of artists working across many different artistic disciplines.  Most of the country’s smaller cities (and all of the larger ones) have many art galleries where citizens can peruse and purchase art, including several galleries funded by tax payers.  Several artist cooperatives exist in cities across the country, providing artistic and financial support for members. Be that as it may, there is no single model for artistic presentation operating across the country.

Performance Arts

There are hundreds of theaters and performing arts centers scattered throughout Canada.  Larger cities, such as Toronto, have one or more professional theaters in which elaborate plays and operas are staged, while most of the smaller cities feature community theater companies.  Several specialist companies or events, such as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Shaw Festival also exist in the country.  Held annually, both of these Ontario-based festivals consistently draw thousands of people, including scores of international visitors from around the world.

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Toronto, Canada is recognized as one of the world leaders in the arts.  The city has the distinction of hosting more theater openings per year than any other city in the English-speaking world.Its theaters include large commercial venues offering mostly musical theater, several large venues for other kinds of musical performance, and a diverse range of theaters and theater companies offering both new works original to the company and works from almost every linguistic and cultural tradition.

As is the case throughout the world, attendance at theater productions in Canada tends to follow class lines, with most events catering to the country’s most affluent members.  There are, however, a few exceptions.  Small community theaters tend to draw a wide cross section of Canadians, particularly those hosting new, experimental or political types of theater.

Culture of Canada: Cuisine

Attempting to identify a particular cuisine of Canada is not an easy proposition, as the multiethnic and multicultural makeup of Canada has resulted in a wide range of food preferences and cooking styles.  When most people think of Canadian cuisine, they no doubt focus on items such as Canadian bacon and maple syrup, and while these foods are seen as uniquely Canadian, they only scratch the surface of this delicious and rather quirky gastronomy.

Canadians are fiercely proud of their culinary traditions—traditions steeped in imagination and an endless number of delicious ingredients and spices.  From the smoked deli meat of Montreal to the world-renowned potatoes of Prince Edward Island, Canadians have a colossal choice of local foods with which to experiment, many of them available year-round.

The culinary styles of Canada were once merely a fusion of those brought to the country by the English and French, but today they reflect the best the world has to offer, with influences from Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.  So what makes a food uniquely Canadian?  Being invented here is a start, but it can also be the result of tweaking recipes from other parts of the world to suit the palates of the new Canadian people.

One truly Canadian food is “poutine,” thought to be invented in Quebec during the 1950s.  In its original form, poutine consisted of a mixture of French fries generally slathered in gravy and cheese curds.  Since its inception, however, the recipe has been regularly embellished and adapted in many odd and tasty ways, from the gourmet versions with lobster and foi gras added, to the quirky “donut” version of the recipe.  Many restaurants and snack shops throughout Canada specialize in this traditional—and traditionally delicious—Canadian food.

Although neither sushi nor pizza can be labeled as Canadian dishes, when you put them together you have something that is truly unique to the country of Canada: Sushi pizza.  It’s true.  Sushi pizza, which is extremely popular in the city of Toronto, has become an absolute staple for the city’s sushi lovers.

Like their U.S. neighbors to the south, more and more Canadians are striving to eat a healthier diet these days, one often consisting of more ethnic foods, while balancing their love for baked goods and other comfort food items.  In addition to Canadian bacon, maple syrup, Poutine and sushi pizza, a few of these favorite foods include:

  • Ketchup Chips.  Chips slathered in ketchup are just one of the guilty-pleasure snacks enjoyed by Canadians.
  • Butter Tarts. A butter tart is a classic Canadian dessert made with butter, sugar, syrups and eggs, all filled in a buttery pastry shell that often includes raisins and nuts.
  • Beaver Tails.  Before you shriek in disgust, Canadian Beaver Tails are merely a trademarked type of pastry widely distributed throughout the country.  The fried dough treats are shaped to resemble a real beaver’s tail and are often topped with chocolate, candy and fruit.
  • Game Meat.  Game meat makes up a significant part of the average Canadian’s diet, and is abundant in the country’s restaurants and butcher shops.  Among other popular Canadian game meat is wild boar, bison, venison, caribou and rabbit.

Culture of Canada: Sport

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Boxing Day in Toronto, Canada Sports are very popular in Canada, from both a participation and spectator standpoint.  Canadians hold many sports dear, particularly the country’s two national sports:  ice hockey and lacrosse.

Referred to as simply “hockey” in Canada, ice hockey is the most popular and prevalent winter sport activity, and Canada’s most successful sport in terms of international competition.  Many Canadian boys (and some girls) learn hockey at a very young age.  Competitions are held for almost every age group, including high school and college, where participants dream of one day skating for their favorite team in the National Hockey League (NHL), which draws millions of Canadians spectators each year.

Similar to hockey, lacrosse is a sport with Native American origins and the official summer sport of Canada.

Canadian football is also popular in Canada, the second-most popular spectator sport in the country after hockey.  Thousands compete in the Canadian Football League (CFL) each year, and its annual championship, the Grey Cup, is the country’s largest annual sports event.

Other sports gaining in popularity in Canada, particularly from a participation perspective, include Association football (soccer), golf, swimming, basketball, baseball, volleyball, skiing, cycling and tennis.  As you might expect based on its colder climate, Canada has enjoyed greater success at the Winter Olympic Games than it has at the Summer Olympics.

Culture of Canada:  Holidays and Celebrations

The people of Canada enjoy a number of important holidays and celebrations.  Some of these are uniquely Canadian, while others have their roots in English and French traditions.28  Some of the most significant holidays and celebrations include:

  • Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Celebrated every August 15th by the Canadian religious group known as the Acadians, this feast day is one of the most important observances of their religious calendar.
  • Boxing Day.  Deriving its name from the 19th century English, Boxing Day occurs on December 26, when it was customary to give boxes or money to servants and family.  The day used to be known as St. Stephens Day.
  • Canada Day. Canada day is the celebration of the nation’s birthday.  The first Canada day (once known as Dominion Day) was celebrated on July 1, 1867.
  • Icelandic Festival.  Also known as “Islendingadagurinn,” the Icelandic Festival, a Viking-themed carnival day, has been celebrated in Canada since 1890.
  • Remembrance Day.  Celebrated every November 11th, Remembrance Day is a holiday designed to honor the war veterans of Canada who were lost during the two World Wars.

Click on one of the following links to learn more about the culture, language, education system, health & safety, economy, government, history, religion, gastronomy, visas, local services, climate, locations in Canada.

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