Canada is a nation in the continent of North America. Its 10 provinces and three territories stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, spanning a total area of 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world's second-largest nation in terms of total land area after the United States. In fact, it has the world's longest binational land border with the United States, which stretches 8,891 kilometres (5,525 miles) along its southern and western borders with the country. Canadians live in three major metropolitan areas: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, which serve as the country's capital and two of its biggest cities.
Indigenous peoples have lived in what is now Canada for thousands of years, and they have done so continuously. Expeditions led by the British and French began exploring and settling along the Atlantic coast in the 16th century and continued to the present day. France surrendered almost all of its colonies in North America to the United States in 1763 as a result of a series of military battles. Canada was established as a federal dominion of four provinces in 1867 as a result of the merger of three British North American colonies via the Treaty of Confederation. This marked the beginning of a period of expansion of provinces and territories, as well as a period of growing independence from the United Kingdom. As a result of the Statute of Westminster 1931, and culminating in the Canada Act 1982, which eliminated all legal ties to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Canada has gained a greater degree of independence from the United Kingdom.
A parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition, Canada is governed by a parliamentary system of government and a constitution. The prime minister of the United Kingdom is chosen by the governor general, who represents the monarch, who acts as the nation's head of state. The prime minister is elected to office by the elected House of Commons and is responsible for governing the country. A federal level official bilingualism is in effect at the federal level since the nation is a Commonwealth realm. International comparisons of government transparency, civil rights, quality of life, economic freedom, and educational attainment show that it ranks among the top three or four countries in the world. Because of large-scale immigration from many other countries, it is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan countries. Because of Canada's long-standing ties with the United States, the country's economy and culture have been significantly impacted.
Canada, a highly developed nation, with the seventeenth greatest nominal per capita income in the world and the sixteenth highest rating in the Human Development Index, both of which are world records. Despite being the tenth-largest economy in the world, it is mostly dependent on rich natural resources and well-developed international trade networks to sustain its sophisticated economy. Several major international and intergovernmental organisations and groups, including the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the Group of Ten, the Group of Twenty, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth of Nations, the Arctic Council, the Organization internationale de la Francophonie, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the Organization of American States are represented in Canada.