To the west, you see snow-capped mountains brooding over the horizon, like sleeping giants from some long-forgotten age. To the east, you see a busy metropolis with a booming sports culture, modern transportation, and excellent nightlife. This is Calgary, and it’s a microcosm of Canada with its mix of natural splendor and modern, urban lifestyles.

Canada is a small country in terms of population (comparable to Morocco or Poland), but it covers a staggering amount of territory and is the third largest country in the world in terms of area. Much of this territory is the bitterly cold expanses of northern tundra, including hundreds of frozen islands both large and small. These territories contain scattered settlements of the native First Nations tribes, and small communities of miners and oil workers, but otherwise their only year-round residents are the sea-birds and a few incredibly resilient animals and plants.

Just south of the tundra is another vast expanse of nature, more hospitable to humans but no less wild. From the endless prairies of Manitoba to the mighty coastal mountain ranges of British Columbia, the western provinces of Canada can rival any region on earth for natural scenery.

But at the same time, Canada is a nation of global cities – cities like Toronto and Montreal, which embody the multicultural ideal of welcoming everyone while at the same time retaining a distinctly Canadian identity. The rich cultural lives of these cities are expressed in music, food, sports, and the overall friendliness that Canadians are known for throughout the world.

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