Because Canada welcomes immigrants from all over the world, it has become a melting pot of culture and diversity.
Some of its biggest draws are the Canadian healthcare system, the vast landscapes, the wildlife, and the quality of life in its cities – so it’s not hard to see why Canada is one of the most popular destinations for immigrants.
Moving to Canada requires planning and a lot of paperwork, but it is probably the best decision of your life.
Here are eight things you need to know before heading up to the Great White North.
1. It’s Big… Really Big
Sprawling across almost ten million square kilometers, Canada is the second-largest country in the world (Russia is the largest).
If you can’t quite wrap your head around how big that is, picture this: Canada is big enough to fit the equivalent of 40 United Kingdoms inside its borders, and it would take you four years to walk along its entire coastline.
Some other mind-boggling facts are that Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park is larger than the Netherlands, and the city of St John’s on Canada’s east coast is actually closer to London than it is to Vancouver on the west coast.
2. Its Cities Are World-Class
The cities in Canada are some of the world’s finest. In fact, the Economist listed three of them among the top ten of the “most livable” cities in the world.
In third place was Vancouver, in fourth was Toronto, and Calgary placed fifth. The five determining factors were education, infrastructure, stability, healthcare, and environment.
3. There Are Two Official Languages
In Canada, there are two official languages – English and French. Now, imagine living in Singapore, where there are four official languages… or in India, where there are sixteen.
The Eastern province of Quebec is predominantly French, and laws are enforced by the OQLF to ensure that the language doesn’t die out there.
4. The Healthcare is Amazing
The level of healthcare Canadians enjoy is the envy of Canada’s neighbors – particularly in America where there is no free healthcare.
The Canadian healthcare system is funded by taxes, and the basic health insurance that is provided by the government is delivered by the private health sector.
Like the NHS, all essential medical services, procedures, and medications are provided to everyone for free – the only caveat is that you might have to wait to be seen by a medical professional.
5. The Landscapes Are Breathtaking
Canada is known for its vast, untouched wilderness and beautiful landscapes. If you want to get away from humans, moving to Canada may be your best bet. 90 percent of Canadian residents live within 100 miles of the US border, so there’s huge potential for exploring further North.
Although you won’t find tropical rainforests or scorching deserts in Canada, you will find almost everything in between.
With the rugged coastlines along the Pacific Rim, the rolling mountains of Gros Morne, the enchanting Meadows in the Sky, and the Alberta Badlands (that could have been taken straight out of an old western film), there’s bound to be an attraction in Canada for everyone.
6. It Can Get Cold
Apart from in British Columbia on the country’s west coast, the winter temperature never rises above zero – so be prepared to get very cold. Most of Canada’s temperature dips below minus 30 degrees Celsius in winter, so going outside without layering appropriately is a no-go.
Of course, the coldest temperature ever recorded in North America was in Canada – Yukon to be precise – where it plummeted to minus 63 degrees Celsius in 1947. To put things into perspective, that’s as cold as the surface of Mars!
Not to worry though, all buildings in Canada are kept warm and toasty with central heating – just avoid the great outdoors in winter.
7. Moose, Beavers, Bears, and More
Moose and beavers are so prolific in Canada that they’ve become the country’s official mascots – they are even featured on Canada’s currency.
You’ll need to keep a careful eye on the roads in Canada, though, because moose are everywhere. Weighing in at 350-450 kilos, a collision with a moose is no picnic. Thankfully, there are lots of signs and warnings along the roads to serve as a reminder.
If you spot a beaver, don’t approach it… no matter how cute and cuddly it looks. They’ve been known to bite dogs and humans alike, so heed the warning.
Bears, on the other hand, are more of a problem. In Canada, there are three types: black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears.
There are around 17,000 polar bears in Canada, which accounts for around 70 percent of the world’s population.
While black bears tend to be shyer and are smaller than their relatives, grizzly bears are around seven feet tall, can run over 30 miles per hour, and have no qualms about attacking humans.
Other wildlife you may encounter in Canada are wolves, lynxes, coyotes, cougars, but there are many more.
8. Everyone Loves Poutine
The word “poutine” is Quebec slang for “mess,” and it’s Canada’s national dish. Poutine is basically French fries slathered in gravy and half-melted cheese curds. Poutine was invented in 1957 when a trucker requested cheese and gravy on his fries, or so the story goes.
You’ll find poutine everywhere in Canada, and there are fancier versions of it that involve lobster and foie gras.