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The Geography of Canada Portal
This is a sister portal of the Canada Portal

Introduction

Geography by province and territory

The geography of Canada is vast and diverse. Occupying most of the northern portion of North America (41% of the continent), Canada is the world's second largest country in total area after Russia. Canada spans an immense territory between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Arctic Ocean to the north (hence the country's motto "From sea to sea"), with the United States to the south (contiguous United States) and northwest (Alaska), and the Arctic Ocean to the north; Greenland is to the northeast. Off the southern coast of Newfoundland lies Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, an overseas collectivity of France. Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60°W and 141°W longitude to the North Pole; however, this claim is contested. Canada's abundance of natural resources is reflected in their continued importance in the economy of Canada. Major resource-based industries are fisheries, forestry, agriculture, petroleum products and mining.

The flora of Canada is quite diverse, due to the wide range of ecoregions and environmental conditions present in Canada. From the warm, temperate broadleaf forests of southern Ontario to the frigid Arctic plains of the Northern Canada, from the wet temperate rainforests of the west coast to the arid deserts, badlands and tundra plains, the biodiversity of Canada's plants is extensive. About 4,100 species of vascular plants are native to Canada, and about 1,200 additional non-native species are recorded as established outside cultivation there.

The fauna of Canada is considered to be diverse across Canada, ranging from lush forests of British Columbia, to the prairies of Western Canada, to the tundra of the Northern Canada. With a large land mass, and small population density, the wildlands of Canada provide important habitat for many animals, both endangered and not. Canada is home to approximately 70 000 known species of plants and animals - and perhaps many more that have yet to be discovered.

Canada flag map.svg More about...Canadian geography, its flora and fauna

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Recently erupted pahoehoe lava flow at the Blue River
Volcanism of Canada has produced lava flows, lava plateaus, lava domes, cinder cones, stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes, submarine volcanoes, calderas, diatremes, and maars, along with examples of more less common volcanic forms such as tuyas and subglacial mounds. It has a very complex volcanological history spanning from the Precambrian period at least 6,000years ago when this part of the North American continent began to form.

Although the country's volcanic activity dates back to the Precambrian period, volcanism continues to occur in Western and Northern Canada where it forms part of an encircling chain of volcanoes and frequent earthquakes around the Pacific Ocean called the Pacific Ring of Fire. Volcanic activity has been responsible for many of Canada's geological and geographical features and mineralization, including the nucleus of North America called the Canadian Shield.

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Sifton (Manitoba).jpg
The Canadian Prairies is a region of Canada, specifically in western Canada, which may correspond to several different definitions, natural or political. Notably, the Prairie provinces or simply the Prairies comprise the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, as they are much covered by prairie.

The word prairie usually refers to a type of grassland, and true prairies occur only in the southern reaches of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Contrasted to this are other biomes such as the boreal forest taking up the majority of the Prairie Provinces, or the aspen parkland. However "the prairie" may also refer to all of the Interior Plains region within Canada, in contrast with the Rocky Mountains and Canadian Shield, and is a continuation of the Great Plains region of the United States.

In a more restricted sense, the term may also refer to the areas of those provinces covered by prairie. Prairie also covers portions of northeastern British Columbia, though that province is typically not included in the region in a political sense.

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Snowy Owl Barrow Alaska.jpg
The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large owl of the typical owl family Strigidae. The Snowy Owl was first classified in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who developed binomial nomenclature to classify and organize plants and animals. The bird is also known in North America as the Arctic Owl or the Great White Owl.

Until recently, it was regarded as the sole member of a distinct genus, as Nyctea scandiaca, but mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data (Olsen et al. 2002) shows that it is very closely related to the horned owls in the genus Bubo. The Snowy Owl is the official bird of Quebec. This species of owl nests on the ground, building a scrape on top of a mound or boulder. A site with good visibility, ready access to hunting areas, and a lack of snow is chosen. Gravel bars and abandoned eagle nests may be used. Breeding occurs in May, and depending on the amount of prey available, clutch sizes range from 5 to 14 eggs, which are laid singly, approximately every other day over the course of several days.

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UtsingiPoint-GreatSlaveLake.JPG
"Utsingi Point", East arm of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories.

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Cape Breton Highlands National Park (Parc national des Hautes-Terres-du-Cap-Breton) is located on northern Cape Breton Island in the province of Nova Scotia. One-third of the Cabot Trail passes through the park featuring spectacular ocean and mountain views. The park was the first National Park in the Atlantic provinces of Canada and covers an area of 950 km². It is one of 42 in Canada's system of national parks - areas that are protected on behalf of all Canadians, for all time.

At the western entrance of the park is the Acadian village of Chéticamp on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and a park information centre. On the eastern side of the park are the beaches at Ingonish on the Atlantic Ocean. In between are mountains, valleys, forests, waterfalls, rocky coastlines and a tundra-like plateau known as the Cape Breton Highlands.

Park wildlife includes moose, black bears, coyotes, and bald eagles. Whales and Northern Gannets can often be seen from the park's coastal hiking trails, e.g. the Skyline Trail. The park's forests provide habitat for the uncommon Bicknell's Thrush. The Gaspé Shrew, the local name for a smallish variety of the Long-tailed Shrew, Sorex dispar, can be found on rocky slopes in the park.

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Populus tremuloides is a deciduous tree native to cooler areas of North America. The species is referred to Quaking Aspen, Trembling Aspen, and Quakies, names deriving from its leaves which flutter in the breeze. The tree-like plant has tall trunks, up to 25 metres, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red, in Autumn. A tall, fast growing tree, usually 20–25 metres (66–82 ft) at maturity, with a trunk 20–80 centimetres (7.9–31 in) in diameter; records are 36.5 meters (120 ft) in height and 1.37 metres (4.5 ft) in diameter. The bark is relatively smooth greenish-white to gray and is marked by thick black horizontal scars and prominent black knots.
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