Size and Location
With a total area of 3,849,670 square miles (9,970,610 km2), Canada is the second
largest nation in the world. It is slightly more than half the size of Russia and is
somewhat larger than China and the United States. With a maximum width (east-west)
of 3,200 miles (5,150 km), Canada stretches across six time zones. The north-south
maximum distance is 12,800 miles (4,500 km). The coast of the mainland measures
about 17,900 miles (28,800 km); that of the islands, 41,800 miles (67,270 km).
Canada borders the United States in the south and stretches northward, past the Arctic
Circle, to the Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Ocean. The east coast is formed largely by
the Atlantic Ocean, including such arms as the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Labrador
Sea, Davis Strait, and Baffin Bay. Western Canada fronts on the Pacific Ocean and
borders Alaska. The 5,527-mile (8,895-km) Canada-United States boundary, including
1,540 miles (2,478 km) along Alaska, is the longest between any two nations in the
Canada is the second largest country in
the world. Only Russia has more land.
Canada can be divided into seven major physical regions. All were heavily glaciated
and altered during the last Ice Age.
The Canadian Shield
An immense block of ancient crystalline rock, called the Canadian Shield, spans
roughly half of the country. It curves in a great arc around Hudson Bay from the coast
of Labrador to the Beaufort Sea. Included in the region are some Arctic islands. Most
of the terrain varies from relatively level to hummocky, with an abundance of glacial
debris, exposed rock, lakes, and muskegs (bogs). Elevations are generally less than