The Physical and Economic Geography Of Canada



CANADA

Canada, is the world¹s second largest country and it is the largest country in the Western Hemisphere. It comprises all of the North American continent north of the United States, with the exclusion of Alaska, Greenland, and the tiny French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. Its most easterly point is Cape Spear, Newfoundland and its western limit is Mount St. Elias in the Yukon Territory, near the Alaskan border. The southernmost point is Middle Island, in Lake Erie and the northern tip is Cape Columbia, on Ellesmere Island.

Canada is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the west by the pacific Ocean, and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and its associated bodies of water, including Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea.

Canada has an abundance of mineral, forest, and water-power resources. The mining industry has been a major force in Canada¹s economic development in the past and is still the main force in the advance and economic activity and permanent settlement into the northlands. The principal minerals are petroleum, nickel, copper, zinc, iron ore, natural gas, asbestos, molybdenum, sulfur, gold, and platinum; in addition extensive beds of coal, potash, uranium, gypsum, silver, and magnesium are found.

Fresh water covers an estimated 756 276 sq km or 7.6% of Canada. The many rivers and lakes supply ample fresh water to meet the nation¹s needs for its communities and for irrigation, agriculture, industries, transportation, and hydroelectric power generation. Canada has four principal drainage basins: the Atlantic Basin which drains to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, the Hudson Bay Basin which drains northward into Hudson Bay via the Churchill, Nelson and Saskatchewan rivers, the Arctic Basin which is drained by the Mackenzie River and the Pacific Basin which drains into the Pacific Ocean via the Fraser, Yukon and Columbia rivers.

Canada has six major physical, or physiographic, regions: the Canadian Shield, the Arctic Islands, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands, the Appalachian Region, the Interior Plains, and the Cordilleran Region.

In simple terms, Canada can be considered a vast, saucer-shaped basin, bordered by mountainous lands on the west, east, and northeast. Hudson Bay and the lowlands along its southern shore form the central depression of this ³saucer². Surrounding this depression on all sides, including Baffin Island, is the Canadian Shield (also known as the Laurentian Plateau or Laurentian Upland). The Canadian Shield is a region of ancient, mostly Precambrian rocks that covers nearly half of Canada. The Canadian Shield includes all of Labrador and large areas of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories. As a result of glacial action during the Pleistocene Ice Age, much of the region is covered with numerous lakes and marshy areas as well as rolling hills from worn down mountains. The Canadian Shield was formed in the early Paleozoic era and is composed of igneous rock. Podzolic soils, which are soils of low natural fertility cover much of this area, they are also quite wet from the climate. The climate in this area varies quite a bit due to the different levels of elevation. Arctic climate conditions are found in the northern areas, these areas generally have dry and cold conditions. Boreal conditions are found in the midsection, the conditions are generally cold and wet. South-Eastern climate conditions are found in the south, these climate conditions are generally cool and wet. Precipitation is fairly heavy in northern Quebec and Labrador. The climate and acidic soils in this area do not create proper conditions for agriculture. Some coniferous and deciduous forests are found in this area as well as, shrubs, litchen and heath.

The Arctic Islands lie to the northwest of the central depression and constitute about 8.3% of Canada¹s land area. They are mostly covered by permanent snow and ice fields. The northern sections of the region include the United States Range, which reaches 2926 m in northern Ellesmere Island. The southern sections are lower in altitude and are sometimes referred to collectively as the Arctic Lowlands and Plateaus. The Arctic Mountains are primarily composed of igneous and metamorphic rock. The mountains are very young mountains with jagged peaks. The Arctic Lowlands are made solely of sedimentary rock. Glaciation has worn down the land in