Canada is a land of vast distances and rich natural beauty. Economically and technologically, it resembles its neighbour to the south, the United States, although there are significant differences between the two countries. Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 by an act of the British parliament making it younger by nearly 100 years, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. By 1931 it was more or less fully independent of the United Kingdom. Though a medium sized country by its population 33 million, Canada has earned respect on the international stage for its strong diplomatic skills as a kind of "Switzerland of North America", while certainly not as neutral in its international alignment for example its unwavering support of the State of Israel. Domestically, the country has displayed success in negotiating compromises amongst its own culturally and linguistically varied population, a difficult task considering that language, culture, and even history can vary significantly throughout the country. In contrast to the United States' traditional image of itself as a melting pot, now also falling out of use, Canada prefers to consider and define itself a mosaic of cultures and peoples. Canadians are used to living and interacting with people of different ethnic backgrounds on a daily basis and will usually be quite friendly and understanding if approached in public. The country is largely urban-based, where peoples of all backgrounds rub elbows with one another although this will be less so in rural areas.

Time zones

The Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming first proposed time zones for the entire world in 1876, and Canada, being a continental country, is covered coast to coast with multiple zones. Canada uses the 12-hour clock system, however the 24-hour clock system is used in the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick where French is an official language and this clock system is used with that language; and ambiguity must be avoided, such as train or airline schedules when given in both English and French, because they will be inidicated in each clock system. Daylight Saving Time, when clocks are moved forward by one hour, is observed in most of the country from 2AM on the second Sunday in March until 2AM on the second Sunday in November; during this time, for example, British Columbia is observing GMT-7 while Alberta is observing GMT-6.

GMT-8 Pacific Time Yukon, British Columbia

GMT-7 Mountain Time Alberta, Northwest Territories, Nunavut

GMT-6 Central Time Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario

GMT-5 Eastern Time Ontario, Quebec

GMT-4 Atlantic Time Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island

GMT-3.5 Newfoundland Time Newfoundland and Labrador