Canada is a country occupying most of North America and extends from theAtlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west. To the north the country is bordered by the Arctic Ocean . It is the second largest country in total area , second only to Russia , and their common border with the United States , in the south and northwest, is the longest land border in the world .
The land occupied by Canada have been inhabited for millennia by various groups of aboriginal peoples . Starting at the end of the fifteenth century , expeditionsBritish and French explored and later settled along the Atlantic coast of the country. France ceded nearly all their colonies in North America in 1763 after theSeven Years' War . In 1867 , with the union of three colonies of British North America in a confederation , Canada was formed as an area federal four provinces. This began with an increase of provinces and territories and a process to increase the autonomy of the United Kingdom . This expansion of autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982 , which eliminated the vestiges of legal dependence on the British Parliament .
Canada is a federation composed of ten provinces and three territories , aparliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy , with Queen Elizabeth II(Elizabeth II) as head of state - a symbol of Canada's historic ties with the UK - and the government headed by a prime minister , a position currently occupied (2012) by Stephen Harper . The country is bilingual and multicultural , with English andFrench as official languages . One of the more developed countries of the world, Canada has a diversified economy, dependent on its abundant natural resources and trade , particularly with the United States , a country with which Canada has a long and complex. It is a member of the G8 , the G20 , the NATO , the OECD , theWTO , the Commonwealth of Nations , the Francophonie , the OAS , the APECand the UN .