Top events in Canada

March
29

The Yellow-billed Loon, Say's Phoebe and the Brown-headed Cowbird are among the less familiar species to be spotted at this annual wildlife-based...

May
17

The Harbourfront Centre is a showpiece venue where a profusion of entertainments and shows from around the world are assembled and presented at a...

May
20

For avid theatre-goers, Québec City hosts the Carrefour International Theatre Event every year. For two and a half weeks in May and June,...

Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park
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Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park

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Canada Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

9,984,670 sq km (3,855,102 sq miles).

Population

35.2 million (2013).

Population density

3.5 per sq km.

Capital

Ottawa.

Government

Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state

HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General David Johnston since 2010.

Head of government

Prime Minister Stephen Harper since 2006.

Electricity

110-120 volts AC, 60Hz. American-style flat two-pin and three-pin (grounded) plugs are standard.

From Banff to Baffin Island, from Tofino to Toronto, Canada is a remarkable country. Whether you’re a hard-core adrenaline junkie looking for a backcountry adventure, an explorer heading out on a big road trip, a city-lover hunting for cutting-edge culture and fine cuisine or a combination of all the above, Canada ticks all the boxes.

Stretching 5,500km (3,400 miles) from the Atlantic to the Yukon-Alaska border, the world’s second largest country boasts an astonishing diversity of landscapes: rugged, unspoilt coastline abuts immense forests and emerald lakes containing a startling array of wildlife; vast, seemingly endless prairies become jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain ranges; laid-back, cosmopolitan cities are complemented by remote, quirky outposts.

Canada’s people too are enormously varied, from the indigenous Inuit in the Arctic to First Nations communities, 1960s and 70s British expats, fiercely proud Francophone peoples and a burgeoning Asian population. Their genuine friendliness and warmth is immediately apparent to visitors.

Canadian cities are progressive, vibrant and regularly feature on ‘best places to live’ lists - Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal have all at some point featured on Mercer’s Quality of Life Survey, usually scoring in the top 30. Toronto, a veritable patchwork of diverse neighbourhoods, sits in an enviable location on the shore of Lake Ontario whilst Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, contains a clutch of great museums and the pretty Rideau Canal for ice skating in winter. Montreal’s skyscrapers belie its French heritage, but look closer and you’ll stumble upon historic, cobbled streets and centuries-old customs. A stone’s throw from the Canadian Rockies, booming Calgary oozes oil wealth and flaunts its cowboy traditions; chilled-out Vancouver, meanwhile, seems to have it all: mountains, beaches, an incredible downtown park and terrific food.

Whilst you’re out and about enjoying the cities, don’t forget about the experiences Canada delivers. You can ski steep chutes in British Columbia, kayak secluded bays in Nova Scotia or learn to lasso at an Albertan ranch. You can capture grizzlies on camera in the Yukon, watch open-mouthed as mammoth icebergs drift past the Newfoundland coast or listen in awe to the deafening roar of Niagara Falls. You can tour vineyards, dig for clams or slice through a succulent steak.

Canada is a nation of immigrants and thus truly cosmopolitan – around 20% of the population are foreign-born (rising to 45% in Toronto). While other countries have eschewed immigration, Canada has recognised its importance to economic and social development, and continues to welcome vast numbers of young, skilled and highly educated workers from overseas each year. Indeed, in 2010, over 280,000 new permanent residents came to Canada, the largest number in more than 50 years. And contrary to the waves of migration from Europe in the first half of the 20th century, the majority of recent immigrants come from Asia. Thanks to its cautious fiscal policies, Canada’s economy has remained reasonably buoyant during the global financial crisis, and it remains one of the world’s wealthiest nations and a highly desirable place to work and do business.

With its staggeringly beautiful scenery, multitude of outdoor activities, forward-looking cities and huge swathes of uninhabited wilderness, Canada offers countless opportunities to travellers.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 25 February 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from petty crime. Don’t leave your handbag or luggage unattended. Thieves often target tourist hotels. Keep valuables including your passport in a hotel safe. Leave copies of important documents with family and friends in the UK. Carry a photocopy of your passport for ID. Keep luggage out of sight in cars.

If you need the police, call 911 or 0 and ask the operator to connect you. There is no charge for emergency calls placed from a public pay phone. If you lose your passport, contact the British High Commission or Consulate immediately.

Road travel

Each province and territory has the authority to establish its own traffic and safety laws.

Seat belts are compulsory. Right turns on red lights are generally allowed, but at some junctions in towns and cities, you can only turn right on a green light. In some parts of Quebec, right turns on red lights are not allowed.

You can hire and drive a car in Canada using a full UK driving licence. You don’t need an International Driving Permit. Carry both the plastic photo card and the paper licence with you at all times.

Take out full insurance cover if you hire a vehicle.

Obey speed limits and take extra care when travelling on country roads. Watch out for wild animals.

Winter driving conditions can be extreme. Monitor local news and weather broadcasts and take advice before driving in winter. Snow tyres are required in some provinces.

For detailed information on road conditions throughout Canada and safety tips, see the Government of Canada, the Canadian Automobile Association and the Travel Canada websites.

Air travel

Check with your airline and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority for information on screening procedures and prohibited/restricted items on board an aircraft.

Wildlife

If you are hiking or camping, be considerate and cautious of local wildlife. Take all rubbish with you, and treat any food items with great care to avoid attracting animals to your site. Animals with nearby young or nests will be particularly aggressive when protecting their territory. Research the region and learn how best to deal with the local wildlife you might encounter. Take particular care if you’re touring an area where bears have been sighted. Keep a safe and legal distance from any wildlife including marine animals and birds and closely follow park regulations.

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