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Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Few countries in the world offer as many choices to the traveller as Canada. Whether your passion is skiing, sailing, museum-combing or indulging in exceptional cuisine, Canada has it all. Western Canada is renowned for its stunningly beautiful countryside; Eastern Canada mixes the flavour and charm of Europe with the bustle of trendy New York; wildlife viewing is at its best in Northern Canada; and, everywhere, you will be surprised by how much more there is to this country than just maple syrup and Mounties.However, Canada also has its fair share of unsavoury history. Traces of up to a dozen distinct groups of Inuit (Eskimos – Canada's indigenous peoples) have been discovered across Canada's far northern regions. The Inuit maintain that traditional lands were taken from them by force or subterfuge by previous governments, bearing some resemblance to the plight of the Aborigines in Australia.However, there have been some small measures to tackle their remonstrations: in 1991, a 350,000 sq km (135,135 sq miles) area of the Northwest Territories was relinquished to the Inuit as the semi-autonomous Nunavut territory; and additional lands and measures of self-government were granted to the territory in 1999. There is certainly room in Canada to accommodate for these peoples: despite Canada's gigantic size, the country is sparsely populated. Most people congregate around urban centres, and venturing into more remote rural areas, you may well have only the country's stunning scenery as your companion.Indeed, Canada is so beautifully diverse that it makes it that little bit easier to comprehend why so many people fought for possession of it. During the 17th century, the Anglo-French war over Canada ended with the capitulation of the French Canadian capital, Qu├ębec, to the besieging forces of the English General Wolfe. The Americans made a number of efforts to seize control of Britain’s Canadian territories after British defeat in the American War of Independence, but failed, and the two countries thereafter evolved along different historical paths. In 1791, Canada was divided between regions occupied by the English-speaking and the longer-established French-speaking community, but the arrangement did not work and was replaced by a unified system.Canada now promotes itself as a country of peace, most notably in recent times in its opposition to the US-led war against Iraq. Canada governs itself independently but still has the British monarch as its head of state, with relatively little dissent. These factors are typical of a country that somehow succeeds in unifying incredible range: whatever your passion, Canada has a place for it. After all, this country spans six time zones and borders three of the world's four oceans