Canada - The Unspoiled Nature of the North
The majestic Rocky Mountains, gigantic conifer forests and the orange autumn under the maple tree make Canada a true natural paradise. The country's variety of cultures is especially present in the metropolises of Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal.
Geography - "From ocean to ocean"
Canada is the world's second largest state after Russia and takes up over 41 percent of the North American continent. It is also the most northern mainland region of North America and is enclosed by several oceans. The Canadian slogan "From ocean to ocean" refers to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, the Pacific Ocean in the west and the Arctic Ocean in the north. Canada borders on the USA in the south and the US state Alaska in the north-west. The only country which is more northern is Greenland in the north-east. However, Canada accommodates the most northern human settlement. The small town Alert lies on the 82nd parallel and is about 834 kilometres away from the North Pole. Canada can be divided into 6 greater physical regions. The first three regions are the Appalachian Mountains - a mountain range which is over 380 million years old - the Great Lakes, which Canada shares with the USA, and the Canadian Shield, which is vegetated by conifer forest. In addition, there is the prairie in the country's centre, which accommodates a major part of agriculture, the western mountain range, which contains the Rocky Mountains and - last but not least - the Arctic. You also find about 100 volcanoes in Canada, most of which belong to the Ring of Fire. The sleeping giants hardly display any activity today. Merely a few clouds of smoke, a dark grumble or the surrounding thermal springs indicate the former power of these volcanoes. Canada has a number of climatic zones. Depending on the region, you find Arctic cold to temperate weather. The predominant climate zone is the boreal one. At the west coast, however, it can be maritime. In the temperate zones the winters are quite long and cold, while the summers are warm, humid and short.
Nature - Natural beauty between ice and prairie
Canada's nature is very diverse. A characteristic formation are the Rocky Mountains in the regions Alberta and British Columbia. Magical mountain lakes, wide river courses and countless wild flowers can be found here and are home to black and brown bears, elks, beavers and caribous. The highest Canadian mountain is Mount Robson (3954 m). It even poses a challenge to experienced mountaineers. About 70 percent of the country are tundra and mountainous regions. More than half of these forests have remained jungles to the present day. Behind the northern border of trees you find the tundra. Grasses and mosses vegetate this typical Arctic desert. The waters of the Arctic regions are populated by many whales and walruses and on shore you see polar bears and seals. With a bit of luck you can watch an impressive natural spectacle in the region around Saskatchewans. The sky above the remote villages is often filled with the green, yellow and purple lights of the Aurora Borealis. Between Alaska and Newfoundland you find the greatest conifer forest region on earth. Large mixed leave forests extend south of it. Especially the sugar maple - the national tree which is also displayed on Canada's flag - grows in this region. The so-called "Canadian Wheat Belt" lies in the vastness of the prairies. Golden yellow wheat and a few grain bins are the only things found in this barren and dry region. The only animals which live here are bison and prairie hares.
Natural sights - Canada's Niagara Falls, polar bears and maple
Canada counts 44 national parks in addition to thousands of provincial parks and conservation areas. The four parks Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Jasper constitute the World Heritage of the Rocky Mountain Park. Their white peaks and glistening glaciers are a must for every visitor of Canada. Especially worth seeing is also the Nahanni National Park Reserve. Most visitors discover the deep gorges, grizzly bears and thermal springs along the South Nahanni River by boat. If you cannot get enough of the country's waters, you are in good hands at the Niagara Falls of Ontario. Boats take visitors as close to this breathtaking spectacle as possible. It is virtually impossible not to shiver when seeing one million bath tubs of water pouring down in front of one's eyes. Lovers of whales can go on an expedition into the Bay of Fundy. Fin, humpback and blue whales can be watched at close range in this bay. Animal watching from the outpost Churchill in Manitoba is a similarly impressive experience. Polar bears roam this region from September to November and are not bothered about the visitors. A popular destination for lovers of nature is the island Haida Gwaii. Bears on shore, bald eagles in the air and orca whales in the sea make the island in front of British Columbia very appealing. A seasonal highlight is the autumn. The leaves of the numerous maple trees bathe Canada in warm orange-red light and whet travellers' appetite for the popular maple syrup.
Culture - Native Americans, Inuit people and Vikings
The "First Nations" - the Native Americans - already settled on the present-day territory of Canada 12.000 years ago. The Inuit people discovered the country 7000 years later and settled in its northern regions. They have left traces which exist to the present day. A well-known tradition in Canada is the custom of the so-called Inukshuk. It means "equal to the human" and is expressed in upright stone sculptures which remotely resemble human beings. Artworks of this kind are located in many places in Canada but most of all in the Jasper National Park. About 1000 yearS ago the Vikings lived in the north of Newfoundland for a while. The Europeans only arrived in the 15th century. The Italian Giovanni Caboto is considered the discoverer of Canada. As he sailed under English flag, he took possession of the country for the British. However, the French were also eagerly interested in the country's natural beauty and resources and built their settlements in the 16th century. Canada only gained its own political system in the course of the Treaty of Versailles from 1919 but it remains a constitutional monarchy to the present day with Elisabeth II as its queen. Today; Canada is a well-developed social state with a rich culture. The consciousness of the country's origins can be felt in many places. There is no typical Canadian person. Nevertheless, the population is described as being friendly and polite with a propensity for national pride - especially when it comes to their favourite sport ice hockey.
Cultural sights - Varied metropolises, dinosaurs and Green Gables
Canada's cultural centres are most of all the big cities. Vancouver is at the top of the list of worthwhile cities - with good reason. The opposites of the most modern glass skyscrapers and the adjacent forests of the Stanley Park make this cultural city so appealing. With its 405 hectares of land the Stanley Park is Canada's greatest city park and attracts millions of visitors every year. A special highlight is the Nine O'Clock Gun, which is shot at nine p.m. every day. Vancouver is repeatedly used as the location for Hollywood film productions due to its extraordinary beauty. The city's cultural assets are also reflected in its ethnic diversity. The Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, for example, is a popular travel destination. Toronto should not be missing on the list of popular Canadian cities. You have a great view of the city's skyline from the CN Tower, which is 553 metres high. Toronto is also considered the city of art and artists. A must for every lover of culture is the Art Gallery of Ontario. The capital Ottawa impresses with the Parliament Hill, which accommodates the government building, the Baroque gardens and the guard. Drumheller draws dinosaur fans into its Royal Tyrrell Museum, which exhibits the world's greatest tyrannosaurus. Every visitors has the opportunity to disappear into the giants jaws, which are made from fibreglass, for once in their lives. The Museum of Civilization provides an insight into Canada's history. The challenge is finding out why this museum does not have any corners. Prince Edward Island would not have been visited by so many tourists had there not been the amiable orphan Anne. The author L. M. Montgomery wrote the children's book "Anne of Green Gables" in 1908 and caused a rush of visitors to the island which continues to the present day. About 350.000 visitors fall in love with the enchanting Green Gables House every year.
Experience - The juice of the maple
Canada is a great destination for a city trip. Besides Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, travellers should visit Montreal and Quebec. Quebec is over 400 years old and displays European influences. Its architecture, windings streets, town walls and the cathedral invite visitors to a stroll through the old part of town. A highlight in Montreal is the beautiful Notre-Dame Basilica with its fantastic light show, which takes place on five days of the week. In addition, there is the Ville Souterraine in the region of Montreal. This underground mall is over 32 kilometres long and accommodates 1700 shops as well as 200 restaurants. The most popular Canadian souvenirs are the handicraft of the Inuit or Native Americans, the hand-knit woollen jumpers of the Newfoundlanders and of course the ever-present maple syrup. Whether in pure form or as biscuits, chocolates and toffees, this sugar maple product is on everyone's lips in Canada. After all the maple leaf is not Canada's national symbol for no reason. However, the country has much more culinary specialities to offer. Other local delicacies are freshly caught wild salmon, honey from the prairie and the exquisite wine from the wine-growing regions on Vancouver Island. The Canadians' favourite dish is poutine - chips which are served with soft cheese and gravy. Of course Canada also has an exciting nightlife. You find 100 casinos as well as numerous restaurants, bars and pubs in every bigger city.
Activities - Ice hockey, water sports and road trips
No matter if you want to go skiing in the mountains of the Whistler Blackcomb or go bathing at one of the eleven beaches in Vancouver alone - Canada caters for all tastes. While the forested national parks invite visitors to go hiking, kayaking and climbing, the oceans promise exciting waves for surfers and other water sports. The Canadians' national sport is ice hockey. Going to a match is a must for every traveller who wants to experience the general mood in the country. Canada is excellently suited for winter sports. The Rideau Canal is transformed into a platform for ice-skaters and hockey players every year. In the summer months this canal offers a breathtaking system of rivers, canals and lakes for river trips of any kind. On over 200 kilometres people can prove their kayaking skills. Those who like it more comfortable and less wet should think about going on a road trip. A particularly scenic road is the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. Travellers can enjoy the country's mountainous coastal landscape, view of the ocean and elks on over 300 kilometres. The Trans-Canada Highway is even more famous. Adventurers need at least one month to travel this route from St. John's to Victoria, which is 7800 kilometres long.
Canada can be travelled at different times of the year. The climatic conditions depend on the region you are visiting. Many tourists prefer the warmer summer months from June to September. The skiing season last from November to April. English and French are Canada's official languages. The country's infrastructure is very well developed. Its dense air traffic network guarantees a successful arrival. Canada can also be reaches by ship. Many cruise operators offer journeys to the country. If you are planning on spending your holidays at the lakes, you should use mosquito repellent. Many nocturnal insects transmit viral diseases.
Canada is an extraordinary tourist country. Its varied landscape makes the country a popular destination for lovers of nature. Active holidaymakers and city travellers are also in good hands in Canada. The surrounding islands as well as the vastness of the prairie offer relaxation and quiet.