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Northern Lights in Canada | © Pi-Lens / Shutterstock
Northern Lights in Canada | © Pi-Lens / Shutterstock
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This One Fact About Canada Will Change Your Life

Picture of Emily Paskevics
Updated: 30 August 2017
One thing Canada is known for is the country’s vast geographical size, which is clear just by looking at any map of the world. It’s generally known that the Great White North is the second largest country in the world after Russia, but breaking the numbers down can yield more surprising facts that will make you look at Canada in an entirely new way.

The Canadian motto is A Mari Usque ad Mare, which means from sea to sea, and indeed, it has the longest coastline of any country in the world at 243,977 kilometers (151,600 miles). You might not think of Canada as a beach destination, but three different oceans—the Atlantic to the east, the Pacific to the west, and the Arctic to the north—border the country on three sides. If you walked without stopping, it would take you around four and a half years to walk the entirety of Canada’s coastline.

The Torngat Mountains and Nachvak Fjord, Labrador
The Torngat Mountains and Nachvak Fjord, Labrador | © Paul Gierszewski/ WikiCommons

The border between Canada and the United States is the world’s longest unprotected border, and around 90% of Canada’s population is concentrated within 160 kilometers (100 miles) of it. Despite being such a large country, however, Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world, with only three people living per square kilometer. Additionally, almost half of the populace in the nation was born in other countries—making it among the most diverse.

The Skeena River, British Columbia
The Skeena River, British Columbia | © Sam Beebe/ Flickr

Within its vast borders, Canada is home to at least 42 national parks, as well as 167 national historic sites and four marine conservation areas. A few of these areas are larger than some countries: Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, for example, covers 30,050 square kilometers (11,602 square miles), which makes it bigger than Israel and Albania. Moreover, Wood Buffalo National Park, which traverses both Alberta and the Northwest Territories, is even more expansive: at 44,807 square kilometers (17,300 square miles), this park is bigger than either Switzerland or Denmark.

Dawson City, Klondike and Yukon rivers and Bonanza Creek in Tintina Trench
Dawson City, Klondike and Yukon rivers and Bonanza Creek in Tintina Trench | © Josef Hanus/Shutterstock

In addition to coming up close to Russia in terms of size, the two countries also vie for first place as the coldest nation in the world. The average daily annual temperature in Canada is -5.6°C (23°F)—note that this average also incorporates the far north, which gets far colder than most of the major cities ever do. All the same, Canada really can be deadly cold: an average of 108 Canadians die each year from exposure to frigid temperatures.

Aerial view of Nunavut
Aerial view of Nunavut | © Mike Beauregard / Flickr

And this leads us to what is perhaps the most surprising fact of all: Canada’s lowest recorded temperature is as cold as Mars! In the small village of Snag, in the Yukon Territory, the temperature of -63°C (-81.4°F) was recorded in February 1947. On average, the surface temperature of Mars is about -60°C (-80°F).