Introduction to Anglo-America

*The United States and Canada are two closely related countries.  Each of us is the other’s largest single trade partner, we share the longest undefended border in the world, we have been at peace with one another for almost 200 years, and we are both fairly safe and prosperous countries.

*The United States and Canada are sometimes referred to as Anglo-America, because of our common English heritage.  The majority of our people came from some part of the United Kingdom, both of us were British colonies, and most of our laws are descended from English common law.

*Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world in terms of land area, covering about 3,855,087 square miles.  The USA is the 3rd largest country in land area, covering 3,794,083 square miles.

*The USA is also the 3rd most populous country in the world, with an estimated 299.1 million people.  Canada is only the 35th most populous country in the world, with about 32.5 million people.  80-90% of Canada’s people live within 125 miles of the US border.  In both countries, about ¾ of the people live in or very near cities, making them very urban countries.

*As separate nations of English heritage, the United States and Canada have, in different ways, become less like England.

*The United States have been an independent country since 1776 or 1783, depending on how you look at it.  Canada was only formed as a colony with one government in 1867, and is still technically ruled by Queen Elizabeth II and is part of the Commonwealth of Nations, although day-to-day aspects of Canadian government have been transferred from Britain to Canada in a process lasting from 1926 through 1982 (more or less).

*The United States still uses what we call standard or English weights and measures (feet, miles, gallons, et cetera), although some of these (particularly liquid measurements) are not quite what they are in England today.  Canada used to use Imperial measurements (so their gallons were different from those of the USA) until they went metric in the 1970s.

*Both the United States and Canada have formal constitutions (unlike the UK), and both have federal governments (while the UK, in theory, has a unitary government, although there is some regional variation).

*Both nations use a decimal currency called the dollar, although they are of different values.  The dollar comes from Spanish money common during the 18th century colonial period, and is not closely related to British money.  The Canadian dollar is sometimes called the ‘loonie’ because it has a picture of a loon on it—most Canadian coins have a native animal on one side (and the Queen on the other).
*Besides their English heritage, Canadians also have a large French population in the Province of Quebec, and the United States have an increasingly important Spanish-speaking population throughout the country (but especially in the Southwest).  In addition, both nations have been almost entirely populated by immigrants of some kind—American Indians and First Nations people make up very small proportions of both the USA and Canada’s populations.

*The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C., which exists in a separate federal district (the District of Columbia).  It was chosen as the capital because it was far from any major city (so it wouldn’t favour anyone, or cater to any entrenched interests), was more or less in the centre of the nation at the time, so neither North or South would feel left out, and because George Washington owned land up the Potomac River, and he hoped that having a major city at the mouth of the river would make his land more valuable.

*There are also 50 states, which have a certain amount of independence, and a number of territories that remain under the control of the Federal government (although the five that are regularly inhabited tend to have a great deal of local control). 

*Within many of the states lie a number of American Indian reservations; although within the states, these are not under the control of the states, but govern themselves as semi-sovereign nations (as long as they do not actually do anything without the permission of the Federal government). 

*According to the 2000 Census, the United States is about 77% white, 13% Black, 3.6% Asian, just under 1% American Indian, and has about 2.4% of its population who claim to be of mixed-race and 5.5% who claim a race other than those just listed.  The US Census bureau does not count Hispanics as a separate race, but has estimated that a little over 13% of the US population is Hispanic.

*About 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christians (with Catholics and Baptists as the two largest denominations), while about 15% regard themselves as atheists or agnostics.  Of the other 5%, about 1.4% are Jews and the rest are evenly mixed between other major religions (about ½ of 1% are each Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu, although all three are growing fast).

*Our average life expectancy is 77.6 years (74.8 for men and 80.1 for women), our birth rate is about 14.14 births/1,000 population (2005 est.), our death rate is about 8.25 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.), our fertility rate is about 2.08 children born/woman (2005 est.), and we have an adult (over 15) literacy rate of about 97%.

*The capital of Canada is Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario (it is not in a separate territory).  It was chosen because it lay directly between English-speaking Ontario and Francophone Quebec, the two largest and most important provinces at the time it was chosen.  It was also a small town that did not favour anyone’s existing interests, and it was far enough from the US border that it did not seem likely that the United States could capture it too easily.

*Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories.  The provinces are more or less self-governing, while the federal government has more power over the territories. 

*The official head of state of Canada is Queen Elizabeth II, who rules through her Governor-General.  In practise, the country is run by the Prime Minister, who is chosen by the House of Commons, one of the two halves of the Parliament of Canada.  The other half is the Senate, which in principle is the more important, but in practise is less powerful.

*According to 2001 statistics, about 85% of Canada is white, about 3.5% is made up of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis, about 7% is of Asian origin (mostly Chinese and Indian), and about 2.5% is Black.  English and French are both official languages in Canada, with about 56% claiming English as a first language, almost 29% claiming French as a first language, and about 15% having some other language (often Chinese) as a first language.

*81.5% of Canadians are Christians (slightly over half of them Catholic), while about 12% claim no religion, and about 1% are Jewish, 1% are Moslem, and a few are Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

*Canada’s average life expectancy is 79.83 years (76.44 for men and 83.38 for women), her birth rate is about 10.99 births/1,000 population (2003 est.), her death rate is about 7.61 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.), her fertility rate is about 1.61 children born/woman (2003 est.), and Canada has an adult literacy rate of about 97%.

*Overall, the US and Canada are very similar nations and important partners in the world, even though both might be reluctant to admit that. 

This page last updated 20 August, 2006.