Facts & figures

Population, location & infrastructure

With its nominal BIP of 1.989 billion US$ (in 2018) Canada is the eleventh largest economic nation in the world. Its surface of 9.9 million km2 with a population of 37 million people means that the second largest country of the world is one of the most sparsely populated. About 1 million of the population identify themselves as First Nations or Métis.

The official languages of Canada are both English and French, although outside of Quebec, the latter is spoken by minorities.

The biggest cities are Toronto (2.8 million), Montreal (1.7 million) and Calgary (1.2 million). The federal capital Ottawa houses close to 950,000 and Vancouver just under 650,000.

With 5 different time zones from coast to coast, the country relies on efficient inter-city airport connexions. The busiest hub is Toronto Pearson International Airport, which connects to a wealth of cities around the world.

Political system

Canada is divided into 13 provinces and territories. The political system of parliamentary-democratic federation and parliamentary monarchy is based on the Westminster system.

The federal system of Canada allows for a wide-ranging array of competencies to be under the control of the provincial and territorial governments: healthcare, education, culture and the exploitation of natural resources for example are managed locally. 
They also have fiscal sovereignty in many domains. The majority of the provinces charge a provincial – in addition to the Canadian – income tax, and maintain gambling and alcohol monopoles.

The jurisdictions differ from province to province. The judicial system of Québec is based on the French-inherited “Code civil”, while Anglophone provinces have adopted the British Common law. In labour law there are differences in certain domains: some decisions are based on the Canadian labour law, others on the provincial jurisdiction.

Research & Development

Fundamental research output (publication of scientific articles) has been steadily growing in Canada since the turn of the 21st century, faster than the OECD average. Canada’s National Research Council (NRC), the country’s premier science and technology research organization, is a leader in scientific and technical research, the diffusion of technology and the dissemination of information. With offices in most of the country’s bigger cities, its market-driven focus addresses common problems to enhance people’s lives in all fields of research. In 2015 1.6% GDP was invested in R&D (down from 1.9% in 2006).

R&D is also conducted in world-class university facilities, the most prominent of them grouped within the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities (commonly called U15). Its member institutions undertake 80 % of all competitive university research in Canada, contributing upwards of C$36 billion to the Canadian economy every year. Initiatives such as MITACS help build partnerships between academia, industry, and the world by welcoming international students or granting scholarships for Canadian students to travel abroad to do research. 

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