The first settlers in the vast area of Canada were the Inuit indigenous people. They came to Canada around 13,000 years ago and thus contributed to the first colonization of Canada.
It was not until the 16th century that Europeans, especially Great Britain, France and Spain, became aware of the abundant fishing grounds and began to build the first settlements on the coasts.
The French were largely involved in the growing population. Many regions were significantly shaped by their brisk trade, especially in furs.
In the years that followed, there were repeated tensions between the French and the English over territorial supremacy, which ended in a war for Canada in 1754. Here, large metropolises such as Quebéc and Montréal fell into English hands first. Later France even had to hand over all of its territories to England.
Several wars against the United States followed with the War of Independence, which gave rise to a heightened sense of nationality among the Canadians of the time.
The residents of Canada aspired to their own state, which they were guaranteed to get with Westminster status in 1931. From that day Canada was completely independent and is now one of the largest countries in the world.
The capital of Canada is Ottawa. Canada belongs to the Commonwealth of Nations and is therefore, formally speaking, a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. As in all other countries, this is represented in the Commonwealth by the Governor General. Michaëlle Jean has been the Governor General of Canada since 2005, who came to Canada from Haiti as a civil war refugee. This is represented in the provincial capitals by the vice-governors.
The Governor General of Canada has the right to convene and dissolve parliament, draw laws, and appoint senators and judges. In most cases, these decisions are taken together with the Prime Minister.
The current Prime Minister of Canada is Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party, who was appointed on February 6, 2006.
The Conservative Party of Canada is currently the ruling party and constitutes a minority government. The Conservative Party of Canada replaced the Liberal Party after 13 years.
The parliament consists of the House of Commons (lower house) with 308 members and the Senate (upper house). The 308 MPs are elected every five years by majority vote.
The federal government, led by the prime minister, is responsible for trade, transport, foreign policy and defense.
The Senate consists of 105 senators who are not elected but are appointed by the Governor General on the proposal of the Prime Minister.
The numerous provinces of Canada are largely self-governing and also have their own laws. In each province, individual laws are passed in the areas of culture, police, social affairs, education, health, economy and nature.
The present-day military of Canada came into being in 1968 when the air force, army and navy were merged. The military consists of approximately 62,000 professional soldiers and 22,000 reservists. Also belonging to the military are the Candian Rangers, who are supposed to show military presence in the arctic regions. Their number is limited to 4,800 armed forces.
The arsenal of the Canadian military includes 1,400 armored vehicles, 300 fighter jets and 34 ships in the navy.
The Canadian military was used in World Wars I and II, as well as the Boer War. The Canadian military has been an important part of the UN peacekeeping force since 1948 and is the nation with the most involvement in peacekeeping missions. Canada is also one of the founding members of NATO.
Canada – religions
Due to colonization, Canada was mainly populated by French Catholics and Anglican English. This was followed by Catholic Italians and Irish and Ukrainian Doukhobor. The proportion of Catholics in Canada is higher because the Catholic missionaries were able to colonize the country more successfully than the Protestants. The indigenous people of Canada, the Inuits, have indigenous beliefs such as the Shaker Church.
Later waves of immigration brought further religious communities such as Muslims, Jews, Sikh, Hindus and Buddhists to Canada. A particularly large number of different faiths congregate in the big city centers, such as Toronto.
73% of the total population of Canada are Christian. These are divided into 44% Catholics, 29% Protestants. The two largest Protestant denominations in Canada are the United Church of Canada with approx. 9% and the Anglican Church of Canada with approx. 7%. In addition, other small religious communities have formed in Canada. This includes Orthodox and other religious communities.
Approximately 1.7% of the population of Canada are Muslims, who are primarily settled in Ontario. About 1.1% are Jews, 1% Buddhists and Hindus. It is estimated that 16.5% of the population of Canada is unfaithful.