Cruising in Canada


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.


Location: Northern North America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean on the east, North Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Arctic Ocean on the north, north of the conterminous US
Geographic coordinates: 60 00 N, 95 00 W
Map references: North America
Area: total: 9,984,670 sq km
Land: 9,093,507 sq km
Water: 891,163 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 8,893 km
Border countries: US 8,893 km (includes 2,477 km with Alaska)


202,080 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


Varies from temperate in south to subarctic and arctic in north


Mostly plains with mountains in west and lowlands in southeast

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Mount Logan 5,959 m


As an affluent, high-tech industrial society in the trillion dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and affluent living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US.

Given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant, Canada enjoys solid economic prospects. Top-notch fiscal management has produced consecutive balanced budgets since 1997, although public debate continues over how to manage the rising cost of the publicly funded healthcare system. Exports account for roughly a third of GDP. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with its principal trading partner, the US, which absorbs more than 85% of Canadian exports. Canada is the US' largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, uranium, and electric power.


Airports: 1,331 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 508
over 3,047 m: 18
2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
1,524 to 2,437 m: 151
914 to 1,523 m: 247
under 914 m: 77 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 823
1,524 to 2,437 m: 66
914 to 1,523 m: 351
under 914 m: 406 (2005)
Heliports: 319 (2005)
Pipelines: crude and refined oil 23,564 km; liquid petroleum gas 74,980 km (2003)
Railways: total: 48,683 km
standard gauge: 48,683 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)
Roadways: total: 1,408,900 km
paved: 497,342 km (including 16,906 km of expressways)
unpaved: 911,558 km (2002)


631 km; note: Saint Lawrence Seaway of 3,769 km, including the Saint Lawrence River of 3,058 km, shared with United States (2003)

Merchant marine

Total: 175 ships (1000 GRT or over) 2,184,681 GRT/2,809,249 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 58, cargo 13, chemical tanker 9, combination ore/oil 1, container 2, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 65, petroleum tanker 14, roll on/roll off 7
Foreign-owned: 9 (France 1, Germany 3, Netherlands 1, Norway 1, UK 1, US 2)
Registered in other countries: 126 (Australia 1, The Bahamas 14, Barbados 8, Bermuda 21, Cambodia 6, Comoros 1, Cyprus 1, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 23, Liberia 4, Malta 10, Marshall Islands 6, Panama 3, Philippines 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2, UK 12, US 6, Vanuatu 5, unknown 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Fraser River Port, Goderich, Halifax, Montreal, Port Cartier, Quebec, Saint John's (Newfoundland), Sept Isles, Vancouver


Managed maritime boundary disputes with the US at Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and around the disputed Machias Seal Island and North Rock; working toward greater cooperation with US in monitoring people and commodities crossing the border; uncontested sovereignty dispute with Denmark over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Ellesmere Island and Greenland

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Canada - Mexico - United States

Further Reading

Back to "vacations"