Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border, its capital is Ottawa, its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra, its population is urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Canada's climate varies across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons. Various indigenous peoples have inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years prior to European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century and French expeditions explored, settled, along the Atlantic coast.
As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces; this began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament. Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition, with Elizabeth II as its queen and a prime minister who serves as the chair of the federal cabinet and head of government; the country is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie and bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, education.
It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture. A developed country, Canada has the sixteenth-highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the twelfth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index, its advanced economy is the tenth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. While a variety of theories have been postulated for the etymological origins of Canada, the name is now accepted as coming from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement".
In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier to the village of Stadacona. Cartier used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village but to the entire area subject to Donnacona. From the 16th to the early 18th century "Canada" referred to the part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River. In 1791, the area became two British colonies called Upper Canada and Lower Canada collectively named the Canadas. Upon Confederation in 1867, Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country at the London Conference, the word Dominion was conferred as the country's title. By the 1950s, the term Dominion of Canada was no longer used by the United Kingdom, which considered Canada a "Realm of the Commonwealth"; the government of Louis St. Laurent ended the practice of using'Dominion' in the Statutes of Canada in 1951. In 1982, the passage of the Canada Act, bringing the Constitution of Canada under Canadian control, referred only to Canada, that year the name of the national holiday was changed from Dominion Day to Canada Day.
The term Dominion was used to distinguish the federal government from the provinces, though after the Second World War the term federal had replaced dominion. Indigenous peoples in present-day Canada include the First Nations, Métis, the last being a mixed-blood people who originated in the mid-17th century when First Nations and Inuit people married European settlers; the term "Aboriginal" as a collective noun is a specific term of art used in some legal documents, including the Constitution Act 1982. The first inhabitants of North America are hypothesized to have migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 14,000 years ago; the Paleo-Indian archeological sites at Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of the oldest sites of human habitation in Canada. The characteristics of Canadian indigenous societies included permanent settlements, complex societal hierarchies, trading networks; some of these cultures had collapsed by the time European explorers arrived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and have only been discovered through archeological investigations.
The indigenous population at the time of the first European settlements is estimated to have been between 200,000
Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives Canada is a federal institution tasked with acquiring and making Canada's documentary heritage accessible. It is the fourth biggest library in the world. LAC reports to Parliament through Pablo Rodríguez, the Minister of Canadian Heritage since August 28, 2018; the Dominion Archives was founded in 1872 as a division within the Department of Agriculture and was transformed into the autonomous Public Archives of Canada in 1912 and renamed the National Archives of Canada in 1987. The National Library of Canada was founded in 1953. Freda Farrell Waldon contributed to the writing of the brief which led to the founding of the National Library of Canada. In 2004, Library and Archives Canada combined the functions of the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada, it was established by the Library and Archives of Canada Act, proclaimed on April 22, 2004. A subsequent Order in Council dated May 21, 2004 united the collections and personnel of the National Archives of Canada and the National Library of Canada.
Since inception LAC has reported to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. LAC's stated mandate is: to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations. LAC is expected to maintain "effective recordkeeping practices that ensure transparency and accountability". LAC's holdings include the archival records of the Government of Canada, representative private archives, 20 million books acquired through legal deposit, 24 million photographs, more than a petabyte of digital content; some of this content the book collection, university theses and census material, is available online. Many items are only available in physical form; as of May 2013 only about 1% of the collection had been digitized, representing "about 25 million of the more popular and most fragile items". The collection includes: the proclamation of the Canadian Constitution Act, which bears marks left by raindrops during a ceremony on Parliament Hill in April 1982 when Queen Elizabeth II signed it.
Genealogists account for 70% of LAC's clients. The building at 395 Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa is the main physical location where the public may access the collection in person; the building was opened on June 20, 1967. With the de-emphasis on physical visits, in-person services have been curtailed, for example since April 2012 reference services are by appointment only, the role of this building is decreasing. There are administrative offices in Gatineau and preservation and storage facilities throughout Canada for federal government records; the Preservation Centre in the city centre of Gatineau, about 10 kilometres away from the Ottawa headquarters, was designed to provide a safe environment for the long-term storage and preservation of Canada's valuable collections. It was built at a cost of CDN$107 million, the official opening took place on June 4, 1997, it is a unique building containing 48 climate-controlled preservation vaults and state-of-the-art preservation laboratories.
In 2000, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada named it one of the top 500 buildings constructed in Canada during the last millennium. A Nitrate Film Preservation Facility on the Communications Research Centre campus in Shirleys Bay, on the outskirts of Ottawa, houses Canada's cellulose nitrate film collection; the collection contains 5,575 film reels dating back to 1912, including some of the first Canadian motion pictures and photographic negatives. The film material is sensitive and requires precise temperatures for its preservation; the state-of-the-art facility, opened on June 21, 2011, is an eco-designed building featuring an environmentally friendly roof that provides better insulation and minimizes energy expenditures. A planned key activity for 2013–14 was to rehouse analogue information resources in a new state-of-the-art high-density storage facility in Gatineau, where the national newspaper collection and records of Second World War veterans will be stored; the facility will feature a high bay metal shelving system with a suitable environment to better protect Canada's published heritage.
In January 2019, Library and Archives Canada announced that negotiations for a new facility to be built next to the existing one in Gatineau were starting, with an opening date in 2022. LAC's online collection is accessible via its website and LAC provides ongoing information online via its blog, the Twitter and Facebook social networking services, the Flickr image-sharing site, the YouTube video-sharing site. RSS feeds provide links to news about LAC services and resources. A new modernized website is being developed and is scheduled for completion in 2013, with both new and old websites accessible during the transition period. In June 2004 LAC issued a discussion paper Creating a New Kind of Knowledge Institution, after consultation in