Canada is a federation composed of ten provinces and three territories. In turn, these may be grouped into regions: Western Canada, Central Canada, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada (the latter made up of the three territories Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut). Eastern Canada refers to Central Canada and Atlantic Canada together. Provinces have more autonomy than territories. Each has its own provincial or territorial symbols.
Canada occupies a major northern portion of North America, sharing land borders with the contiguous United States to the south and the U.S. state of Alaska to the northwest, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world—after Russia—and the largest on the continent. By land area, it also ranks second.
Canada is one of the world's wealthiest nations, with a high per-capita income, and it is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G8. It is one of the world's top ten trading nations. Canada is a mixed market, ranking lower than the U.S. on the Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedom but higher than most western European nations. The largest foreign importers of Canadian goods are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. In 2008, Canada's imported goods were worth over $442.9 billion, of which $280.8 billion was from the United States, $11.7 billion from Japan, and $11.3 billion from the United Kingdom.
Canada's climate is not as cold all year around as some may believe. In winter, temperatures fall below freezing point throughout most of Canada. But the south-western coast has a relatively mild climate. Along the Arctic Circle, mean temperatures are below freezing for seven months a year.
During the summer months the southern provinces often experience high levels of humidity and temperatures that can surpass 30 degrees Celsius regularly.
Western and south-eastern Canada experience high rainfall, but the Prairies are dry with 250 mm to 500 mm of rain every year.
Overview of Higher Education
In Canada, the constitutional responsibility for universities rests with the provinces and territories. The decision to assign responsibility for universities to local legislatures was enacted as law in the British North America Act in 1867, later renamed the Constitution Act in 1982; it states: "in and for each Province, the Legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to Education." As a result of this constitutional agreement, a distinctive system of higher education has evolved in each province. An exception to provincial level university structure is the arrangement for the aboriginal peoples in Canada. As the constitutional responsibility for Aboriginal Peoples with Treaty Status rests with the federal government of Canada under the Constitution Act of 1982, the federal government is largely responsible for funding higher education opportunities for Aboriginal learners.
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), an organisation composed of Canadian universities, defines two distinct types of post-secondary institutions in Canada: universities and colleges. Universities grant university degrees, which include bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees; and colleges, also known as community colleges, provide diplomas. In some cases, universities must be a member of AUCC to be able to grant university degrees. However, in other provinces membership is no guarantee of university status. Provincial and territorial governments provide the majority of funding to their public universities, with the remainder of funding coming from the federal government, tuition fees, and research grants. The primary variation between universities in the provinces is the amount of funding they receive. Universities in Quebec receive the most funding and have the lowest tuition fees, while universities in Atlantic Canada generally receive the least funding. Among G7 countries, Canada has the highest proportion of post-secondary education graduates in the workforce. It also has one of the highest percentage of university graduates in the workforce, with 22%.
There are 83 universities in Canada that are independent post-secondary education institutions with degree-granting authority. Seven of these universities are in Montreal, Quebec. Since 2008, there are also five recognized universities within Metro Vancouver. Six are in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Five of these universities have campuses in Toronto, Ontario, the most populous city in the country. Three universities are in Ottawa, the country's capital city. The oldest university in Canada, Université Laval, was established in 1663. The Quest University is the smallest university in the country, with 80 students, and the University of Quebec is the largest, with 87,000 students.
Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes
Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (total): 387
Number of Higher Education Students
Number of students enrolled: 1,047,700 (2005-06)
Number of international students enrolled: 80,000 est.
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
95 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 1106, Toronto, Ontario M4V 1N6, Canada
Web site: http://www.cmec.ca
Contact: Dr. Andrew Parkin, Director General