Canada Geography

By | January 9, 2022

Morphological elements. – According to localcollegeexplorer, most of the Canadian territory is included in the so-called Canadian (or Laurentian) shield, extending over just under 7 million km 2, all around the Hudson Bay and in the Arctic Archipelago; Precambrian and Paleozoic crystalline formations emerge in the area, corrugated and leveled in several phases, the last of which is that of the Würm glaciation which has scattered it with moraines and depressions (today occupied by numerous lakes); covered by coniferous forests and, in the North, by the tundra, it has considerable mining importance, minimal from an agricultural point of view, very scarce in terms of settlements.

At the southwestern and southeastern edges of the Canadian shield stretch two flat bands, of different extent: the western one, called the Great Plains or the Prairies, is very wide, just slightly undulating, which continues towards the N the analogous US region elongated to the E of the Rocky Mountains and, like that, is bounded towards the Pacific by the great mountain system; the sedimentary rocks (paleozoic and mesozoic) which are the basis have produced fertile soils that allow an extensive agricultural and zootechnical exploitation of the region. The strip, also flat and hilly, that borders the Canadian shield to the SE, to the left of the lower course and the San Lorenzo estuaryand up to Labrador, it hosts the area of ​​greatest density of population and activity of the whole country.

Further outside, two mountain ranges border the territory of the Canada: to the West the imposing northern section of the Rocky Mountains, a bundle of relatively recent (Cretaceous) corrugations that have given rise to several parallel chains that follow one another from the Great Plains westward to an inland plateau beyond which rises the Coastal Range on the Pacific coast. Very high in the east (with peaks such as Robson, 3954m; Columbia, 3747m) and at the northern end of the Coastal Range (Logan, 5959 m), this range of mountains acts as a watershed between the Pacific and Atlantic (Hudson Bay) and the Arctic Ocean; its climatic conditions depend on exposure to peaceful winds. A further chain, further W of the Coastal Range, was partially submerged and formed the islands facing the shore from the Alexander Archipelago (part in Alaska, part in Canada) to Vancouver Island.

SE of the San Lorenzo lowlands are the northernmost parts of the Appalachians, affecting Canada only for a very small part, although both the Nova Scotia peninsula and the Prince Edward, Cape Breton and Newfoundland islands can be considered the continuation; from the altimetric point of view the reliefs are very modest (Monte Jacques Cartier, 1277 m, in the Gaspé Peninsula), but the climatic and pedological qualities have made it a rather dense settlement area, and the abundance of landings along a coast jagged and protected, it has favored the development of the port.

Climate. – A cold continental climate is completely prevalent, with little rain (400-750 mm per year, with a summer-autumn distribution), with average low and minimum winter temperatures that can be extraordinarily low (in the Yukon river valleydown to -60 ° C), while the averages of the hottest month range between 15 and 20 ° Canada In relation to the position and the altitude, the climatic conditions actually vary from region to region, but almost only in terms of rainfall, and not also in terms of temperatures: in the southeastern Canada, annual rainfall of 1500 mm is reached, which tend to diminish as you go westward to the Rocky Mountains; here the precipitations are more abundant, but immediately to the West, in the highland region, it drops below 300 mm. On the Pacific coast there is a cold maritime climate, with more abundant rains proceeding towards the N, up to over 2500 mm. The northernmost and innermost area (Mackenzie basin, Northern Labrador, islands of the American Arctic Archipelago) has a distinctly polar climate, with average temperatures of the coldest month below -20 ° C, and in the hottest month between 5 and 10 ° C; the permafrost has a great extension there; the summer thaw, with the long insolation of the polar summer, produces a rapid growth of vegetation.

Hydrography. – Inland waters cover a very large surface, corresponding to 7.5% of the country, with an impressive quantity of lake basins. For the most part, the waters gravitate rather uncertainly (given the very slight slope of the land) towards Hudson Bay. The bifurcations of rivers and the formation of expansions along the courses, in lakes and stagnations are frequent, from which more emissaries can originate. Many of the Canadian lakes have very considerable surfaces: the largest are the Great Bear Lake (31,792 km 2), the Great Slave Lake (28,438 km 2) and Winnipeg (24,514 km 2).); more extensive, but only partially in Canadian territory, are the Upper and Huron lakes, which with Erie and Ontario (and with Michigan in the USA) form the system of the Great Lakes, in turn included in the San Lorenzo River basin. This constitutes the most interesting hydrographic system from an economic and settlement point of view, representing as a whole the most frequented waterway in the world, although at its mouth the river freezes for several months a year; both to overcome the ice obstacle and to connect larger regions to the Great Lakes, the San Lorenzo system is connected by canals with both the Mississippi Basin and the rivers of New England, both in the United States, but also important for Canadian traffic. Including the lake sections, the San Lorenzo is credited with a total length of 3058 km, for a basin of over 1.5 million km 2. The longer is the Mackenzie, which flows for 4240 km entirely in Canadian territory, draining a basin of 1.8 million km 2 in which some large lakes fall (Athabasca, Great Lake of the Slaves, Great Lake of the Bears) and flowing into the Sea Arctic Glacial; however, its economic importance is very low. It flows partly in Canada, where it has its spring branches, and partly in Alaska, the Yukon (2897 km). Also relevant are the Nelson- Saskatchewan (2575 km), the Churchill (1609 km) and Albany (980 km), which flow into Hudson Bay. Among those that pay tribute to the Pacific Ocean, the main one is the Fraser (1360 km).

Biogeography  In the polar climate zones the tundra extends; in those of the prairie and the plateau of British Columbia, grasses predominate, which also cover the highest areas of the mountainous region. The rest of the country, apart from the vast cultivated areas, is covered by immense coniferous forests, with a prevalence of Picea alba, interrupted only along the rivers and around the lakes by poplar, willow and birch forests. The forest cover covers an area of ​​3.3 million km 2. The fauna is relatively poor: only about seventy families of terrestrial vertebrates are represented (among which the most numerous are the birds), but not one of them is peculiar to the region. Mammals include the wapiti, the reindeer, the elk, the sheep with big horns, the American marten, several Pinnipeds, the polar bear, the polar fox and the wolf. In northern Canada the musk ox is common. Other common mammals in the country are the rock goat, the Canadian beaver, the American flying squirrel, the hedgehog, the arboreal porcupine, two species of hares (Lepus americanus and Lepus groenlandicus), the Canadian lynx, the grizzly bear. and the raccoon. The birds are less characteristic and the other vertebrates are even less characteristic.

Canada Geography