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Flag of Canada Flag of Canada
Two vertical bands of red (hoist and fly side, half width), with white square between them; an 11-pointed red maple leaf is centered in the white square; the official colors of Canada are red and white.

A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across an unfortified border. Canada's paramount political problem is meeting public demands for quality improvements in health care and education services after a decade of budget cuts. Canada also faces questions about integrity in government following revelations regarding a corruption scandal in the federal government that has helped revive the fortunes of separatists in predominantly francophone Quebec. - CIA World Factbook.

Map of Canada

The Symbols of Canada
The symbols of Canada can heighten not only our awareness of our country but also our sense of celebration in being Canadian.

Canada’s History and Symbols
The maple leaf is a popular symbol of Canada. It was used as a symbol of Canada as early as 1700. It is on the penny, our one-cent coin, where its design has hardly changed since 1937.

Canada - Fotw
The Maple Leaf flag, Origin of the Maple Leaf as symbol for Canada, The Royal Union Flag in Canada.

Canada -
Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America. It is the world's second-largest country by total area, and extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean.

Canada - U.S. Department of State
The relationship between the United States and Canada is probably the closest and most extensive in the world. It is reflected in the staggering volume of bilateral trade--the equivalent of $1.4 billion a day in goods, services, and investment income--as well as in people-to-people contact, with well over 100 million crossings of the U.S.-Canadian border every year. In fields ranging from law enforcement cooperation to environmental cooperation to free trade, the two countries work closely on multiple levels from federal to local. In addition to their close bilateral ties, Canada and the U.S. work closely through multilateral fora.
        Canada--a charter signatory to the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)--takes an active role in the United Nations, including peacekeeping operations, and participates in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Canada joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990 and hosted the OAS General Assembly in Windsor in June 2000, and the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001. Canada seeks to expand its ties to Pacific Rim economies through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), and will host the winter Olympic Games in Vancouver-Whistler, British Columbia in 2010.
        Although Canada views good relations with the U.S. as crucial to a wide range of interests, it occasionally pursues independent policies at odds with the United States. In 2003, Canada did not participate in the U.S.-led military coalition that liberated Iraq (although it has contributed financially to Iraq’s reconstruction and provided electoral advice). Other examples are Canada’s leadership in the creation of the UN-created International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes--which the U.S. opposes due to fundamental flaws in the treaty that leave the ICC vulnerable to exploitation and politically motivated prosecutions--and Canada’s decision in early 2005 not to participate directly in the U.S. missile defense program. The United States and Canada also differ on the issue of landmines. Canada is a strong proponent of the Ottawa Convention, which bans the use of anti-personnel mines. The United States, while the world’s leading supporter of demining initiatives, declined to sign the treaty due to unmet concerns regarding the protection of its forces and allies, particularly those serving on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the lack of exemptions for mixed munitions.
        U.S. defense arrangements with Canada are more extensive than with any other country. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense, established in 1940, provides policy-level consultation on bilateral defense matters and the United States and Canada share NATO mutual security commitments. In addition, U.S. and Canadian military forces have cooperated since 1958 on continental air defense within the framework of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The military response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 both tested and strengthened military cooperation between the United States and Canada. The new NORAD Agreement that entered into force on May 12, 2006 added a maritime domain awareness component and is of “indefinite duration,” albeit subject to periodic review. Since 2002, Canada has participated in joint military actions in Afghanistan. Approximately 2,300 Canadian Forces personnel are deployed in southern Afghanistan under a battle group based at Kandahar airfield and the Canadian-led Multi National Brigade for Regional Command South in Kandahar and as members of the Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar. Canada has committed to maintain the PRT until February 2007 and to remain active in Afghanistan until at least 2009. Canada has also contributed to stabilization efforts in Haiti, initially with troops and later with civilian police and electoral assistance, and humanitarian and developmental aid.