The majority of Canadians live in the southern part of Canada while the northern regions are less densely populated. Where Canadians live nowadays is a reflection of the settlement history of the country. Major waterways such as the Great Lakes, the Yukon, the Mackenzie, and the St. Lawrence became the main corridors of commerce. They opened up the country’s interior, and the rail linked Canada from sea to sea by the end of the 19th century. In Quebec, regions such as the Beauce, the Saguenay, and the Outaouais developed along the Chaudière, Saguenay, and Ottawa Rivers, and other tributaries of the St. Lawrence. For the first settlers, the Ottawa River and the Great lakes provided access to the interior of Canada.
Many European immigrants chose to settle in Atlantic Canada because of the wealth of natural and fishing resources. They established communities and settlements along Atlantic Canada’s inlets, bays, and coves. In the province of Nova Scotia, 4 in 5 Canadians live close to the Atlantic shore. The major urban areas in Nova Scotia (e.g. Sydney and Halifax) are found close to the ocean.
The population of Canada is concentrated in the southern part also because these regions offer a fertile land and a more temperate climate. The 2006 Census of Canada showed that 2 in 3 Canadians lived close to the US/Canada border (less than 100 km from the shared border). This strip of land is about 4 percent of Canada’s total area. The population of Canada in the southern regions is increasing. The population density in the southern part averages 245 people per square kilometre. The largest urban centres are also found here. Figures show that the country has become a more urban nation. Population growth took place mostly in the largest urban centres during the past 5 years. In fact, 4 out of 5 or 80 percent of Canada’s population lives in urban centres.
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