The Geography of Canada Portal
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.
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The Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field
, also called the Clearwater Cone Group
, is a potentially active monogenetic volcanic field
in east-central British Columbia
, Canada, located approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of Kamloops
. It is situated in the Cariboo Mountains
of the Columbia Mountains
and on the Quesnel
and Shuswap Highlands
. As a monogenetic volcanic field, it is a place with numerous small basaltic volcanoes
and extensive lava
Most of the Wells Gray-Clearwater volcanic field is encompassed within a large wilderness park called Wells Gray Provincial Park. This 5,400-square-kilometre (2,100 sq mi) park was established in 1939 because of the volcanic field's beauty. A single road enters the park, but from it, a number of the field's volcanic features can be viewed. Short hikes lead to several volcanic features but some areas are accessible only by aircraft.
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The Arctic Cordillera
is a vast, deeply dissected chain of mountain ranges
extending along the northeastern flank of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago
from Ellesmere Island
to the northeasternmost part of the Labrador Peninsula
in northern Labrador
and northern Quebec
. It spans most of the eastern coast of Nunavut
with high glaciated peaks rising through icefields and some of Canada's largest ice caps, including the Penny Ice Cap
on Baffin Island
. It is bounded to the east by Baffin Bay
, Davis Strait
and the Labrador Sea
while its northern portion is bounded by the Arctic Ocean
The range is mostly located in Nunavut but extends southeast into the northernmost tip of Labrador and northeastern Quebec. The system is divided into a series of ranges, with mountains reaching heights more than 2,000 m (6,562 ft). The highest of the group is Barbeau Peak on Ellesmere Island at 2,616 m (8,583 ft), which is the highest point in eastern North America. The system is also one of Canada's three mountain systems, the others being the Western Cordillera of Western Canada and the Canadian extension of the Appalachian Mountains into the Gaspe Peninsula and Atlantic Provinces.
Selected fauna -
The Canada Goose
) is a wild goose
belonging to the genus Branta
, which is native to arctic and temperate regions of North America
, having a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brownish-gray body. It is often called the Canadian Goose
, but that name is not the ornithological standard, or the most common name.
The black head and neck with white "chinstrap" distinguish the Canada Goose from all other goose species, with the exception of the Barnacle Goose, but the latter has a black breast, and also grey, rather than brownish, body plumage.
There are seven subspecies of this bird, of varying sizes and plumage details, but all are recognizable as Canada Geese. Some of the smaller races can be hard to distinguish from the newly-separated Cackling Goose.
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Did you know? -
Selected National Park -
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.
Selected flora -
) is a rhizomatous perennial flowering plant
in the bellflower family
native to temperate
regions of the Northern Hemisphere
In Scotland, it is often known as the Bluebell, whereas elsewhere in Britain, "bluebell" refers to Hyacinthoides non-scripta. The species is very variable in form. It occurs as tetraploid or hexaploid populations in Britain and Ireland, but diploids occur widely in continental Europe. Harebells flower in late summer between July and October, sometimes into November, and are found on dry, nutrient-poor grassland and heaths in Britain, throughout Northern Europe and in North America. Once established, the plants compete with tall grass, but the minute seedlings need a clear space in which to establish. The plant often successfully colonises cracks in walls or cliff faces, but is also prominent in dunes.
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