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Canada consists 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, French and British 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.
Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade. It is a member of the G8, G-20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and UN.
In Canada, there are two official languages, English and French, and over 100 other non-official languages.
The Canadian currency system uses dollars ($) and cents (¢).
Large hotels will usually give you a rate similar to those at the bank. It is always a good idea to convert some of your money to Canadian currency prior to leaving home.
For information on currency exchange rates, check out the Bank of Canada's Currency Converter.
Credit Cards & Bank Machines
Major credit cards such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in Canada.
Tipping is a common practice in Canada. Tips or service charges are not usually automatically added to restaurant bills in Canada. In general, you should reward good service by tipping 15-20% of the total amount.
Taxi drivers are also usually tipped 15%. Bellhops, doormen, porters and other staff at hotels are generally tipped $1-$2 CDN per item carried.
Voltage & Electricity
Main wall sockets (or power outlets) and plugs for 110 volts are two parallel flat blades. If those sockets are different from the ones used in your country you will need a socket converter.