Canadians value learning and have developed a first-class education system with high standards. The country spends more on education (as a percentage of GDP) than the OECD average, and ranks second among G8 countries.
Canadian teenagers consistently rank among the best in the world on international tests in reading, science and math, demonstrating the exceptional quality of Canadian schools. A Canadian degree or certificate is highly regarded in business, government and academic circles around the world.
One of the best places in the world to live
Since 1994, Canada has been ranked among the top ten best places to live in the world by the United Nations (UN) and the Economist Intelligence Unit. In the UN survey, Canada received particularly high marks for its access to education, high life expectancy (thanks to a universal health care system) and low rates of crime and violence. In addition, Canada’s largest cities – Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal – were recognized as world-class cities to live and work in, both for their cleanliness and safety and for their cultural activities and attractive lifestyles.
A High standard of living
Canadians have one of the highest standards of living in the world. Nearly 70% of Canadians own their own homes, and a higher percentage own durable goods such as cars, refrigerators, washing machines, televisions, telephones and radios. Canada also has a comprehensive health care and social security system.
Media, entertainment and artistic activities are well developed in Canada. Canada’s highly sophisticated broadcasting system includes more than 1,900 AM and FM radio stations and approximately 1,387 television stations to serve, entertain and educate listeners and viewers. There is also a wide range of cultural activities, including museums, galleries, theater, dance and music performances and concerts.
A welcoming environment
Canada has traditionally been a country of immigrants and has policies that encourage multicultural diversity. In this dynamic environment, different perspectives are respected and collaborative learning is encouraged.
Almost all ethnic groups of the world are represented in Canada. As a result, most ethnic foods and recreational activities associated with specific cultures are available in Canada. Clubs, informal clubs and societies representing a multitude of ethnic backgrounds are also easily accessible. International student advisors at schools can help students connect with such groups.
All major urban centers have a variety of shopping centers, restaurants, theaters, art galleries and museums. Canadian cities offer numerous parks, gardens and beaches for public use, as well as excellent sports and recreation facilities
Canadians value their natural environment. There are currently 42 national parks and national park reserves in Canada. National parks are located in every province and territory, and some are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each province and territory also has areas designated as provincial parks, wilderness areas, ecological reserves and nature reserves. There are more than 2,000 of these designated areas across the country.*
Students who come to Canada will witness some of the most beautiful, natural environments in the world. Canada is also a country of varied geography, and there is much to experience in the great outdoors: from the lush coastline of British Columbia, the majestic Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the big skies of the prairies, to the “maple sugar country” in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and the rugged hills and picturesque coastline of the Atlantic provinces.
* National Parks Board and the Federal-Provincial Parks Council.
A safe place to study
Canada is considered a relatively peaceful, safe and orderly country. The number of violent crimes fell for ten consecutive years between 1993 and 2003. Unlike its southern neighbors in the U.S., firearms are strictly controlled and generally not allowed.
International students coming to Canada should take the same common sense precautions as they would anywhere else in the world. Students can contact a Canadian education center for more information on personal safety or can attend a safety orientation session at their school upon arrival in Canada.
A high-tech country
Canada is a stimulating environment for business and learning, thanks to the contributions of many bright and talented scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs. The country is an international leader in computer and information technology and has an excellent reputation in sectors such as telecommunications, transportation and engineering; and in particular aerospace, urban transportation, microelectronics, medical equipment, advanced software, hydroelectric and nuclear power, lasers and optoelectronics, biotechnology, food and beverage processing, geomatics; and ocean and environmental industries.
Highlights in the Canadian telecommunications industry include Teleglobe’s CANTAT 3 cable, the first of its kind in the world, which enables high-speed, high-capacity transoceanic multimedia transmission. The Stentor alliance of telephone companies invested $8 billion to provide 80 percent of Canadian households with the latest broadband technology. Canada was also among the first in the world to recognize the need to connect schools and libraries to the Internet, and its SchoolNet program is being emulated around the world. Thanks to Industry Canada’s SchoolNet program, Canada is the first nation in the world to connect schools and libraries to the information superhighway.
A bilingual nation
Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages, English and French. The vast majority (75%) of Canada’s French-speaking residents live in the province of Quebec, which lies in the east of the country, but there are French-speaking communities throughout the country.
According to a 2001 census, French is the native language of 81 percent of Quebec’s population and is spoken at home by 83 percent of Quebecers.
Internationally, it is estimated that more than 1 billion people speak English and more than 250 million speak French. As a bilingual nation, Canada offers excellent English as a Second Language (ESL) and French as a Second Language (FSL) programs for students who want to learn either or both languages.