Canada Overview

Origin of the Name – Canada

In 1535, two Indian Youths told Jacques Cartier about the route to ” kanata .” They were referring to the village of Stadacona ; ” kanata ” was simply the Huron-Iroquois word for “village” or “settlement.” But for want of another name, Cartier used ” Canada ” to refer not only to Stadacona (the site of present day Quebec City ), but also to the entire area subject to its chief, Donnacona. The name was soon applied to a much larger area: maps in 1547 designated everything north of the St. Lawrence River as ” Canada .”

Cartier also called the St. Lawrence River the “rivière de Canada “, a name used until the early 1600s. By 1616, although the entire region was known as New France , the area along the great river of Canada and the Gulf of St. Lawrence was still called Canada .

Soon explorers and fur traders opened up territory to the west and to the south and the area depicted as ” Canada ” grew. In the early 1700s, the name referred to all lands in what is now the American Midwest and as far south as the present day Louisiana .

The first use of ” Canada ” as an official name came in 1791 when the Province of Quebec was divided into the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada . In 1841, the two Canadas were again united under one name, the Province of Canada . At the time of Confederation, the new country assumed the name of Canada .

General Information

General: 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. Its paramount political problem continues to be the relationship of the province of Quebec , with its French-speaking residents and unique culture, to the remainder of the country.


  • total: 9,976,140 sq km
  • land: 9,220,970 sq km
  • water: 755,170 sq km

Population: 32,207,113 (July 2003 est.)

Capital: Ottawa