Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. The economic development has been based on the utilization of the country’s large natural resources. Canada is heavily dependent on international trade. The relationship with the United States is strong, and the bilateral trade agreement signed by the two countries in 1988 was expanded in 1994 with Mexico to NAFTA. Canada has had a strong economic development in recent decades.
The arable industries (agriculture, livestock management, forestry) have played a major role in Canada’s development. Direct employment gives them now only 3 percent of the workforce, but the economic significance is still great. About 7 percent of the land area is cultivated land and 2.5 percent pasture land.
Canada is a major exporter of agricultural products; together with the United States, the country is a world leader in grain exports. Wheat exports account for 1/3. It is grown mainly in Saskatchewan as well as in Manitoba and Alberta. In these three prairie provinces – for climatic reasons limited to their southern parts – lies the country’s largest and most important agricultural area, with the cultivation of besides spring wheat also large quantities of barley and oilseeds. The other major agricultural area is in southern Ontario and Quebec on the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. This is a populous region, and agriculture focuses on the nearby market with fruit and vegetable cultivation as well as fodder plants such as maize and hay. Dairy and meat products are important. The breeding of meat animals is otherwise concentrated in the prairie area (Alberta), which also has large grassland crops.
Canada is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of forest products. About 46 percent of the acreage is wooded, and half of it is productive forest land (80 percent softwood). The forest industry contributes 3 per cent to GDP annually. The most economically important areas are in British Columbia and north of the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. The total growth is greater than the annual harvest (180–200 million m 3). The majority of the forest is in public ownership, while harvesting has been left to private companies, a system that has sometimes led to problems. In the accessible forests, there has often been over-extraction, with local wood shortages as a result. The use of chemicals in forestry is controversial.
Fishing and hunting
Looking at the value, Canada is one of the world’s leading exporting countries in fish products. More than 60 percent of the annual catch of approximately 730,000 tonnes comes from fishing in the Pacific. Salmon fishing is greatest, but catches of herring and seafood (lobster) are also significant. As a result of overfishing, cod fishing has been halted, which has led to both unemployment in Canada and conflict with fishing vessels from Spain and Portugal, among others. Fishing with the associated freezing and canning industry is an important industry in Canada’s provinces on the Atlantic and in British Columbia on the Pacific coast, where valuable salmon fishing dominates.
Fur hunting, which has historically played a very important role (Hudson’s Bay Company), is still of local economic importance. Fur farms also play a certain role in the country’s business.
Minerals and energy
In terms of mineral resources, large parts of Canada are still relatively unexplored. New assets are constantly being discovered. However, many finds are difficult to extract for climatic, transport economic and other reasons. Canada is one of the world’s leading producer and export countries in terms of many essential minerals, such as zinc, nickel, gold, uranium and titanium (ilmenite). To the value, iron ore production together with copper, nickel and historically significant gold mining is most important. Pot ash, asbestos and sulfur are other major products from the mining sector, with Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan being the most important provinces.
Despite the important role of mineral production, its annual value is significantly less than the extraction of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and some coal). Alberta is the dominant province with Calgary as the oil hub. The 1947 discovery of the Leduc fields south of Edmonton became the beginning of an ever-growing oil industry for Canada’s economy. Oil discoveries have also been made in the country’s northern parts and in the sea southeast of Newfoundland (including the Hibernian field).
In addition to oil and natural gas, Canada also has huge energy resources in its water energy. It accounts for 60 percent of energy production and comes primarily from the provinces of Quebec (including the giant James Bay project, see La Grande), Newfoundland (Churchill Falls on the Labrador Peninsula) and British Columbia. The country also has 18 nuclear power plants, and nuclear energy accounts for just over 15 percent of energy production. Energy prices are low, and per capita consumption of electricity is one of the highest in the world. Nevertheless, efforts have been made to conserve energy and reduce the use of fossil carbon as an energy source.
Canada is considered one of the world’s leading industrialized countries. Ontario and Quebec, the two most important industrial provinces, both have versatile industrial production. In British Columbia, the forest industry is of great importance, and in Alberta an oil-based industry has emerged. In other provinces, industry plays a less pronounced role.
Manufacturing of vehicles (cars, tractors and aircraft and parts thereof) together with the chemical, computer and telecom industries are the most important industries in the manufacturing industry. They are mainly located in Ontario and strongly integrated with corresponding manufacturing in the US across the border; companies are US-dominated and imports and exports across the border outweigh each other.
In Quebec, the pulp and paper industry is extensive. Canada is the world’s largest exporter of newsprint. Quebec also has aircraft manufacturing. In both of these provinces, the food industry also plays a major role, as does British Columbia.
Canada’s industry has to a large extent been based on the rich natural resources. Thus, the metallurgical smelters in Quebec utilize the region’s mineral resources as well as the resources of cheap electrical energy. A shift from production of raw materials to semi-finished products and more processed goods is ongoing. In recent years, the country’s automotive industry has had major problems, and in 2008 the industry received extensive state support.
With a limited domestic market and with its natural resources as an economic base, Canada has been heavily dependent on well-functioning international trade. Nearly 1/3 of the country’s GDP is estimated to be linked to foreign trade. Particularly important is the trade exchange with the United States, which represents 3/4 of the total trade. However, the fears of an over-reliance on the United States have always been great. The construction and integration of the automotive industry on both sides of the border with the United States means that cars and car parts are important export products. The export of oil and natural gas is also of great importance. Canada’s exports are otherwise commodity-oriented (including semi-finished products), while imports are more characterized by finished goods, e.g. machines, electrical and electronic articles and consumer goods.
- COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Canada, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.
The most dominant trading partner is the United States. East Asia, especially China, has emerged as a new important trading region. Canada usually has a positive trade balance.
Tourism and gastronomy
In 2008, the country was visited by 27 million foreign visitors, 80% of whom were from the United States. The majority of non-US visitors came from the UK, France, Germany and Japan. Due to the high value of the Canadian dollar, the tourism industry has been hampered.
Most of the visitors are short-term visitors, often one-day tourists. The tourists are attracted to the big cities as well as to the Canadian nature. Well-visited cities are Montreal and Quebec and the capital Ottawa. In eastern Canada, Niagara Falls is also a major destination. Canada’s wilderness and numerous lakes attract with their opportunities for outdoor recreation and fishing. Many scenic areas are national parks, e.g. Jasper and Banff in the Rocky Mountains on the Alberta-British Columbia border. UNESCO has explained some areas for World Heritage, while The Viking settlement from around the year 1000 at L’Anse aux Meadows on Newfoundland as well as Quebec and Lunenburg’s urban development has a status as a world cultural heritage.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Canada is Ottawa with a population of 1 million (2019). Other major cities include Toronto just over with a population of 6.3 million, Montreal just under with a population of 4.3 million, Vancouver almost with a population of 2.7 million, Calgary with a population of 1.5 million, Edmonton with a population of 1.4 million (2018).
Due to the dual colonial tradition, Canadian cuisine exhibits both Anglo-Saxon and French features. Fishing and hunting, mushrooms and berries greatly influence the diet, which otherwise has a strong habitual trait of stews on dried vegetables and salted or dried meat. Habitant pea soup is said to be synonymous with French-Canadian cuisine; the recipe corresponds to the usual Swedish pea soup in every detail. The many recipes for cod are worth noting – fried cod tongues are a variant. Chaudrée or Chowder is a thick, tasty soup of fish or/and seafood. Among the game there are pork, reindeer, moose and hare, otherwise there is a preference for pork, which is often served in pies. Maple syrup is rarely missing in pastries, or why not to scrambled eggs.