Country of the Week
A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across an unfortified border. Canada faces the political challenges of meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care and education services, as well as responding to the particular concerns of predominantly francophone Quebec. Canada also aims to develop its diverse energy resources while maintaining its commitment to the environment.
The land now occupied by Canada was first inhabited approximately 16,000 years ago by aboriginal peoples. Starting in the late 15th century the British and French explored and settled along the eastern seaboard. The 19th century saw a rapid influx of European immigrants as the westward push that characterized the continent's development continued.
The beginning of the 20th century saw Canada's early involvement in World War I due to British control of its foreign affairs. In 1919 Canada joined the League of Nations independently of Britain taking control of its own foreign policy. Canada declared war on Germany during World War II three days after Britain, with the first Canadian Army units arriving in Britain in late 1939.
Today, Canada is characterized by its socially democratic programs such as universal health care, the Canda Pension Plan, and Canada Student Loans. In 2006 The Economist ranked Canada the third most democratic nation in its Democracy Index, ahead of all other countries in North and South America.