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Canada is the world's second-largest country, occupying most of northern North America. Extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, Canada shares land borders with the United States to the northwest and south.
Inhabited first by aboriginal peoples, Canada was founded as a union of British colonies (some of which were formerly French colonies). Canada gained independence from the United Kingdom in an incremental process that began in 1867 and ended in 1982; it remains a Commonwealth Realm.
Canada is a federal constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy. Comprising ten provinces and three territories, Canada is a bilingual and multicultural country, with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. A technologically advanced and industrialized nation, Canada maintains a diversified economy that is heavily reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship.
Canada occupies most of the northern portion of North America, sharing land borders with the contiguous United States to the south and with the US state of Alaska to the northwest, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60W and 141W longitude; this claim is not universally recognized. The northernmost settlement in Canada (and in the world) is Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island latitude 82.5N just 817 kilometres (450 nautical miles) from the North Pole.] Canada is the world's second-largest country in total area, after Russia, and the fourth largest in land area, after Russia, China and the United States.
The population density of 3.5 people per square kilometre is among the lowest in the world.] The most densely populated part of the country is the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River in the southeast.To the north of this region is the broad Canadian Shield, an area of rock scoured clean by the last ice age, thinly soiled, rich in minerals, and dotted with lakes and rivers Canada by far has more lakes than any other country in the world and has a large amount of the world's freshwater.