Lay of the Land: Canada occupies most of the northern portion of the North American continent. In the far east of Canada, the Appalachian Mountains extend into the Maritime provinces, creating a hilly, forested landscape with and irregular coastline punctuated by scenic bays and inlets. To the west is a lowlands region stretching from the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes. This is a fertile area of dairy farms, tobacco plantations, and orchards. Also located in this region, where 60% of all Canadians live, are the cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, and Quebec. Further westward are the Canadian prairies, a belt of flatlands running from the Great Lakes to the Rocky Mountains. In this treeless region, wheat fields blanket the land from horizon to horizon. To the north of these regions, the sparsely inhabited frozen Canadian Shield region extends northward from Hudson Bay into the Arctic Circle. Composing one half of Canada's total area, this region is covered by scrub forests, tundra, and swamplands, and includes immense ice- and glacier-coated islands, such as Baffin Island, which is the size of Spain. The Canadian far west is dominated by the Rocky, Coast, and Mackenzie mountains. In the southwestern corner of the nation, there is a relatively warm coastal region, where the cities of Vancouver and Victoria are located.
Early relations between these two North American giants were marked by military encounters before either nation was officially established. During the American Revolution, the colonial army sent forces north into Canadian territory to capture Québec and turn it into the “fourteenth colony,” according to Canadian historians. An American army led by Richard Montgomery captured Montréal, while another led by Benedict Arnold laid siege to a fortress in Québec. During ensuing battles, Montgomery was killed and Arnold wounded, and the Americans eventually retreated and gave up their campaigns in Canada.
The United States and Canada are more intertwined than the United States is with any other nation in the world. The border between Canada and the United States is the longest border in the world. Officially known as the International Boundary, it stretches 5,522 miles (8,891 km) long, including the 1,539 miles (2,477 km) shared by Alaska. Bilateral efforts are made through the Smart Border Declaration, a 30-point action plan that facilitates the legitimate flow of people and goods through this border.
The trade relationship between the United States and Canada is larger than that between any two countries in the world. In 2007, total trade between the two countries exceeded $560 billion. The two-way trade that crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario equals all US exports to Japan. Canada is the leading export market for 36 of the 50 US States and ranked in the top three for another 10 States. In fact, Canada is a larger market for US goods than all 27 countries of the European Community combined, whose population is more than 15 times that of Canada.
A longtime politician and former labor leader, Gary Albert Doer assumed his responsibilities as Canada’s ambassador to the United States on October 19, 2009.