Canada is located in the northern portion of the continent of North America, extending, in general, from the 49th parallel northward to the islands of the Arctic Ocean. Its eastern and western boundaries are the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans respectively. Its land area totals 3,851,809 square miles (9,976,185 square kilometers). The easternmost portion of the country is a riverine and maritime environment, consisting of the provinces of Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. The central portion of the country, in its southern areas, is primarily boreal forest (the provinces of Ontario and Quebec). This forest region extends across the entire country from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains through to the Atlantic coast, and is dominated by coniferous trees. These variations have had important social and cultural effects. The largest segment of the population resides in the central Carolinian region, which has the richest and most varied agricultural land and, because the Great Lakes waterway system dominates the central portion of the country, is also where most of the major manufacturing is located. The savanna or prairie region is more sparsely populated, with several large urban centers in a network across the region, which is dominated by grain farming, cattle and other livestock production, and more recently, oil and natural gas extraction. The two coastal regions, which have some agricultural production, are best characterized by the dominance of port cities through which import and export goods move. In the northern section of the center of the country, also sparsely populated, resource extraction of minerals and lumber, has predominated. The effect of this concentration of the population, employment, and productive power in the central region of the country has been the concentration of political power in this region, as well as the development over time of intense regional rivalries and disparities in quality of life. Equally important, as employment in the center came to dominate gross national production, immigration has tended to flow into the center. This has created a diverse cultural mix in the central region of the country, while the prairie and the eastern maritime region have stabilized ethnically and culturally. The consequence of these diverse geographies has been the development of a rhetoric of regional cultures: Prairie, Maritime, Central, and because of its special isolation, West Coast. A final differentiation is between urban and rural. Local cultural identity is often marked by expressions of contrasting values in which rural residents characterize themselves as harder working, more honest, and more deeply committed to community cooperation, in contrast to urban dwellers [pic]
who are characterized by rural residents as greedy, dishonest, arrogant, and self-interested. Urban dwellers express their own identities as more modern and forward looking, more sophisticated, and more liberal in their overall social values, and perceive rural residents as conservative, overdependent on outmoded traditions, unsophisticated, and simple minded. This distinction is most explicit in Quebec, but also plays a key role in political, social, and cultural contentions in Ontario. Demography
. The official population at the last census calculation, in 1996, was 29,672,000, an increase over the previous census in 1991 of about 6 percent in five years. The previous five-year increase was almost 7 percent. There has been a slowing population increase in Canada over the last several decades, fueled in part by a decline in the crude birthrate. This slowing of growth has been offset somewhat by an increase in immigration over the last two decades of the twentieth century, coupled with a slowing of emigration. Statistics Canada, the government Census management organization, is projecting a population increase of as much as 8 percent between 2001 and 2005, mostly...