Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Canada is located in North America and stretches all the way from the Atlantic
to the Pacific, being made up of ten Provinces and three Territories. To the
North is the Artic ocean; Davis Strait on the North East separates it from
Greenland, to the East is the Atlantic Ocean; the South is bordered by the
United States of America and the West by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska.

A country of outstanding natural beauty, Canada has a wide variety of landscapes;
the mountains, the prairies, lakes and rivers with many national and provincial
parks to protect the habitats. With a total land mass of 9,984,670 sq km
(3,855,103 sq mi), Canada is the second largest country in the world. There are
more lakes and inland waters in Canada than any other country, in fact 7.6% or
755,180 sq km (291,577 sq) is made up of fresh water.

Most images of Canada refer to the Mounties, bears, snow or the Rocky Mountains
with the amazing turquoise lakes though there is truly more to this vast
landscape. Tourism is a large part of the economy with the abundant natural
resources quickly turning Canada into a rich and vibrant country that is a
permanent listing at the top of the best places to live. With distinct seasons –
the winters are cold with plentiful snow and then warm summers, the best way to
survive is to make the most of natures offerings. Skiing, snowboarding and
snowmobiling are popular pastimes and great exercise and fun. In the summer,
hiking, camping and exploring the great outdoors are fantastic ways to spend
your free time. This is especially true when you are amongst the most
breathtaking and fabulous scenery the world has to offer!

The monetary unit is the Canadian Dollar. It is made up of cents with 100 cents
making 1 Canadian dollar. There are 1 cent coins usually called a penny, 5 cent
coins usually called a nickel, 10 cent coins called a dime, 25 cent coins called
a quarter, 1 dollar coins called a loonie and two dollar coins called a twoonie.
The notes or bills are in 5 dollar, 10 dollar, 20 dollar, 50 dollar and 100
dollar denominations. The Canadian dollar traditionally trades at a lower value
than its American counterpart but is now coming closer to parity.

All motor vehicles are driven on the right hand side of the road and are left
hand drive. Each Province or Territory is responsible for its own driving laws
and regulations so each has a different system.


Canada has a population of 30,007,094 (2001 Census), compared with 28,846,761
(1996 Census) which shows a 4% increase. Most of the population lives in the
cities and most of these are located in the South of the country; about three
quarters of the population live within about 300 kms of the U.S border. The most
populated Provinces are Ontario and Quebec with Toronto (in Ontario) being the
most populated city.

There are two official languages - English and French - and Montreal in Quebec
is the world's largest French-speaking city outside of France. All of the
services offered by the Federal Government are in English and French. Almost
every product you buy has English and French on the labels and most public
services are available in both languages. Outside of Quebec the majority of
people speak English; about 18 percent of Canadians are fluently bilingual.

The First Nations or Indian people were the original inhabitants of Canada and
the name comes from their language and means "Village" or "Community". The
Vikings, who arrived in the 11th century and didn't stay for long, were the
first Europeans to land in Canada.

More Europeans arrived in the 16th century bringing with them manufactured goods
which they traded for furs and native products - because of this they were made
welcome by the indigenous people. The two main groups of European settlers were
the French, who came first, and then the English. Despite France losing its part
of the territory to Britain in a war in 1760, many of the French speaking people
stayed. In 1867, three colonies of Britain merged in an event called
Confederation; this created a partially independent state of four Provinces. Six
more Provinces and three Territories have since been added and in 1931 full
independence was achieved. Canada still belongs to the Commonwealth of Nations.

Canada is a Democratic Federation and has both a Federal and Provincial
Governments. The responsibilities and powers are divided between the Federal and
Provincial Governments which make for a complex political system (see for more


Public education is the responsibility of each Provincial Government (please
refer to our Provincial pages for more information) and is paid for through
taxes. Public education is free and all children are required by law to attend
school from the age of 6 years until they are 15 or 16, the majority of students
continue until they are 18 and graduate high school with a high school diploma.

The main languages of instruction are English and French.


Canada has a public health care system; essential medical treatment is available
to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Although the health care
systems are run by the Provincial ministries of health, the Federal Government
sets the standards for health care across the country.

There are three Provinces that charge healthcare premiums (BC, Alberta &
Ontario). In the other Provinces and Territories healthcare is paid for through
taxes. In some Provinces there is a three month waiting period before you
qualify for healthcare, (refer to for more information)
so you should make sure that you have insurance to cover any medical expenses
for this period.

In essence such an article can never describe such a vast and beautiful country
in adequate detail so if you are planning a visit or move go to for detailed information.

About the author:
The author immigrated to Canada in 2003 and has constructed a free information
website about Canada and Canadian
Immigration based on his family’s experiences.

Barcelona…and Beyond

Barcelona…and BeyondOne of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, Barcelona has something to offer even the most discerning tourist. From beautiful beaches to the vibrant street life of the Ramblas, from architecture to football, Barcelona truly is a city for everyone. But what if the unthinkable happens, and you get bored of Barcelona? What if Gaudi’s masterpieces hold no interest for you? What if the thought of going to the Nou Camp makes your heart sink? What if you just can’t deal with one more piece of street theatre, or one more smiling face trying to sell you beer as you walk down the street? The answer is simple. Set on the beautiful east coast of Spain, Barcelona sits in the middle of stunning country, within easy reach of some of Spain’s hidden treasures.
Hire a car (try, and set about exploring the depths of Catalonia. There are many different self drive routes to make the most of your time in Spain. But to make the most of your time, try leaving Barcelona and driving up the Costa Brava to La Gavina (available at, one of Spain’s most beautiful hotels and the only Five-Star Grand Luxe resort hotel in Catalonia, just 120km northeast of Barcelona.
Even if La Gavina is somewhat outside your price range, S’Agaro itself has a huge amount to offer, with beautiful beaches, tranquillity and a relaxed pace of life that is almost impossible to find in bustling Barcelona.
From S’Agaro, carry on north to Figueres, the home town of Salvador Dali. Figueres houses the famous Teatre Museu Dali (Dali Museum), a true spectacle which contains not only the largest single collection of the Dali’s work, but maybe even the spirit of the surrealist himself, as he is buried within his Museum.
A short drive from Figueres lies Girona, an ancient walled city with a wealth of history and culture. Alternatively, drive inland towards Cardona, set deep in the mountains. Cardona is a beautiful town, a real ‘find’ off the beaten track, sitting on a hill almost surrounded by the river Cardoner and boasting an imposing citadel set high on a hill – the Parador, which is now a hotel with luxury accommodation and unbelievable views.
Tired yet? For the hardcore tourist, why not make one final stop on the way back, with a day trip to the monastery at Montserrat – destination of thousands of pilgrims every year, hoping to touch the famous black Virgin Mary (La Maroneta).
After all this excitement, you may well be ready to head back to Barcelona for a couple of days recuperation (and souvenir shopping!) before returning your hire car and heading home, with a wealth of experiences and memories that could never have been accumulated in one place. Barcelona is a fantastic city – but the rest of Spain’s pretty lovely too, and definitely worth setting out to explore.

About the author:Rebecca is a freelance travel writer, writing articles for a range of online and offline resources. Although travel is her first love, she occasionally gets distracted by exciting ideas and theories, which more often than not lead to new writing outside the travel sector.