Highlights in Canada

Geography of Canada

The term “Canada” is derived from the Iroquoian word kanata which means village or settlement. The word established in 1535 when the indigenous people of Québec Province used the word kanata to explained to the French explorer Jacques Cartier how to get to the village of Stadacona. From that day on Cartier used this term to describe the whole province of Québec and later for the whole country. Depite its original meaning, Canada does not really appear as a village. Nowadays it is the second largest country in the world and the cities of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver are metropoles. The capital of Canada is Ottawa.

Die Kanadische Landschaft bietet eine wunderschoene Ausblicke

The state of Canada consists of ten provinces and three territories. These subnational units can be divided into geographical regions. West Canada comprises the province of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The two most populous provinces Ontario and Québec are part of Central Canada. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in the very East are known as sea provinces; together with Labrador and Newfoundland they are called Atlantic Provinces. The three territories Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut are located North of latitude 60° and West of Hudson Bay.
Canada is relatively sparsely inhabited by only 36 million people. It is about 28 times as big as Germany, but its population not even half of Germany’s population. That is why there are large areas which are hardly inhabited. When doing a hiking tour it is possible to meet not a single person for days.
The United States of America in the South and in the West are Canada’s only neighbor. Besides that Canada shares borders with the Pacific Ocean in the West, the Atlantic Ocean in the East and the Arctic Sea in the North. Far East of Canada there is the autonomous territory of Greenland which belongs to Denmark.

Eine Gletscherzunge erstreckt sich ueber ein grosses Tal in Kanada
Blick ueber einen See in Kanada mit einem spektakulaeren Bergpanorama im Hintergrund


Early and eroded mountains are the geological main part of eastern provinces. The Canadian Shield, which is also called Laurentian Plateau, is the geological core of the North American continent and consists of stones which are several billion years old. The Canadian Shield is surrounding the Hudson Bay and covers more than 50% of the country’s area. The landscape is rather flat or hilly. On the South side of the shield there are boreal coniferous forest growing. The West of the country is dominated by the famous Rocky Mountains and the Cascades. The Cascades have a volcanic origin. They are running along the West coast of North America, from the USA to British Columbia. Parts of the Rocky Mountains, the so called Folded Mountains are reaching over 5.000 km from Mexico and the US to Canada and Alaska. The Columbia Mountains on the Canadian Pacific coast are also part of the Rocky Mountains. Mount McKinley with a height of 6.194 m is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains; it is located in Alaska. Canada’s highest mountain is called Mount Logan with a height of 5.959 meters. Mount Logan is part of Saint Elias Range in the Southwest of Yukon, which is also part of the Rocky Mountains. The 2.800 m high Mount Edziza is part of Canada’s second largest volcano complex in British Columbia. From time to time volcanic eruptions can be observed in this area. The most important elevation in the North is Ellesmere Island, the Arctic Cordilleras as well as the Tongart Mountains in Québec, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Travel Tips and Trivia for Canada

Climate in Canada

There are different climate zones in Canada. The North is characterized by polar climate conditions, the South is rather temperate. The major part of the country has a boreal climate with long and cold winters and short, hot summers. The West coast (Vancouver) is characterized by a maritime climate with a high rainfall rate due to the fact that humid airmass which dam up at the western mountains. The central provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba often suffer from long dry spells because rainfalls do not reach these regions. In Ontario and Quebec there are clearly defined seasons: Winters are quite cold, springs are rather moderate and summers humid and hot.

Flora and fauna in Canada

Around 70% of Canada’s territory is covered by natural areas, especially tundra and mountainous regions. More than 50% of Canada’s forests are still jungles. The northern timberline runs from the east coast of Labrador, along the eastside of Hudson Bay to Alaska in the Northwest. North of the timberline, in the midst of tundra areas, there is hardly any fertile ground. The vegetation of southern tundra areas mainly consists of low shrubs and grasses. The most northern parts are characterized by moss which is typical especially in polar deserts. From Alaska to Newfoundland, south of the timberline, there is one of the world’s largest coniferous forests. In the East there are mainly mixed forests, the West is dominated by spruces, pines and Douglas spruces, in the highlands there are American poplars and yellow pines growing.

Ein Grizzlybaer sucht nach Nahrung in einem kanadischem Waldgebiet

The Pacific coast is characterized by Douglas pines and hemlocks. The prairie country in the centre is too dry to send out forests; there are only some single trees. The wide grassland gave way to Canada’s well known wheatbelt.
Canada’s nutritious arctic sea provides enough food for whales, walruses, seals or polar bears. The tundra is home to musk oxen, caribous, polar wolfs, polar foxes, polar hares and lemmings. Besides that there are millions of migrating birds such as auks, ducks, gulls and terns which spend the summer along the Canadian coasts. The thick coniferous forests are home to lynxes, black bears and brown bears. Also beavers, martens and American eagles can be observed. Canada’s flora and fauna is protected in more than 44 national parks and thousands of provincial parks and nature reserves. The largest protected area is the 44.802 km² large Wood-Buffalo-National Park in the North of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. It is inhabited by many endangered species. Very special about this place is the world’s largest population of bisons, which counts more than 6.000 individuals. 92 bird protection areas with a total area of 110.000 km² were created in cooperation with the USA.

Social Geography of Canada

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