Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Canada is the world's second-largest country by total area, after Russia, and shares the world’s longest border with the United States.
The land that is now Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French colonial expeditions explored, and later settled, the region's Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to Britain in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. 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, culminating in the Canada Act 1982.
Canada is a federal state governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. The country is officially bilingual and multicultural at the federal level, with a population of approximately 33.4 million as of 2011. Canada's advanced economy is one of the world's largest and relies largely upon its natural resources and international trade, particularly with the United States, with which it has had a long and complex relationship. Per capita income is the world's ninth highest, and Canada ranks sixth globally in human development. It performs favorably in international rankings of education, quality of life, government transparency, and economic freedom.
Canada is a member of the G7, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth of Nations, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and the United Nations.