CANADA is third in size among the countries of the world. Only the Russia and China have larger areas. Canadian territory covers 3,845,000 square miles, one-fifteenth approximately, or 6.8% of the land surface of the globe. This huge area is inhabited by about 32,000,000 people, giving a population density of three and onehalf per square mile. Only Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska and Australia have lower population densities. The geographer's problem may be stated very simply, it is to explain why one-fifteenth of the world should contain only one one-hundred-andfiftieth of its total population. This small population is by no means uniformly distributed over the entire area. Less than 500,000 square miles in a narrow band along its southern border may be said to be effectively occupied and even here there are many areas of considerable size which have no inhabitants.
Canada comprises the northern half of the continent of North America, with the exception of Alaska, and all the adjacent islands. Canada looks out upon three oceans. On the west Canada is bounded by the Pacific Ocean and by Alaska, which belongs to the United States; from ocean to ocean the southern boundary, also, is formed by the territory of the United States; on the east lie the Atlantic Ocean, Davis Strait, Baffin Bay and the waters separating Ellesmere Island from Greenland; on the north is the Arctic Ocean, over an appropriate segment of which Canada exercises jurisdiction as far as the North Pole. Middle Island in Lake Erie, north latitude 41° 41', is the southernmost point. From east to west, Canada extends from Cape Spear, west longitude 52° 37', to west longitude 141°, on the Alaskan boundary.
The global grid, or graticule, provides a means of precise location for any geographic feature, unit area or point upon the earth's surface. Beyond that, however, it is rather an unimaginative frame of reference. Natural earth features have names, of course, and so do cultural features resulting from the activity of man. Most universally recognized by the map makers are the areas under the control of individual governments or political administrations. The political map depicts one factor only, but it is usually most easily comprehended and most often used.
The common atlas or wall map of Canada shows the country divided into political divisions. Such a map is undoubtedly already familiar to the reader and his attention is for a few moments redirected toward it. The southern part of Canada is composed of ten provinces, each of which enjoys local self government. Reading from west to east, that is from left to right on the conventional map, the provinces are British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. They comprise three-fifths of the total area. The northern two-fifths is made up of the district of Yukon and the Northwest Territories which are subdivided into the districts of Mackenzie, Keewatin and Franklin.
The provinces with their areas and populations, their capital cities and their populations are given in table I, as are also the areas of the northern territories and current estimates of their populations.
Although they carry no political significance there are two well known names which are applied to groups of provinces. They are the Prairie Provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and the Maritime Provinces, including Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. As we shall see later, however, these areas are not only convenient but fairly logical geographical regions.
Canada is composed of ten provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland; Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories ( Mackenzie, Keewatin and Franklin). Each of the provinces has its own local seat of self government while the territories are administered from the national capital at Ottawa.