Until the early 20th century, Canada was primarily an agricultural nation. Since then it has become one of the most highly industrialized countries in the world. To a large extent the manufacturing industries are supplied with raw materials produced by the agricultural, mining, forestry, and fishing sectors of the Canadian economy. In 2004 Canada’s gross national product (GNP) was US$905,042 million, equivalent to US$36,650 per capita (World Bank estimate). Federal government annual revenue in 2006 was US$248,301 million; expenditure for the same year was US$227,671 million.
The Canadian economy depends heavily on agriculture, which employs about 3 per cent of the labour force. In the early 1990s Canada had some 280,000 farms, which averaged 242 hectares (598 acres) in size. The annual value of farm output amounted to US$18,600 million at that time. Because of its abundant production and relatively small population, Canada is a leading exporter of food products. Its farms are about equally divided between arable and livestock production. Wheat is the most important single crop, and the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan form one of the greatest wheat-growing areas of the world, averaging 16 per cent of global production (half of this coming from Saskatchewan alone).
These provinces also grow a large percentage of the coarse grains and oilseeds produced in Canada. After wheat, the major crops in descending order of value are rapeseed, vegetables, barley, maize, potatoes, fruits, tobacco, and soya beans. Annual output totals in 2006 included (in tonnes) wheat, 27.3 million; barley, 10 million; and maize, 9.27 million.
Quebec produces 82 per cent of the maple products, and Ontario produces 89 per cent of the nation’s tobacco crop. Fruit-farming takes place in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, with apples contributing about 40 per cent of the total value. Ontario produces about one half of the total vegetable crop, followed by Quebec and British Columbia. Livestock and livestock products accounted for about 48 per cent of farm cash receipts in 1996. Ranching prevails in the west, and the raising of livestock is a general enterprise, except in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where beef cattle form a specialized industry.
Ontario and Quebec rank highest in production of dairy products, with about 71 per cent of the national output. In 2006 the livestock population of Canada included about 14.8 million cattle. Forestry is a major source of Canada’s wealth, and forest products annually account for more than 11 per cent of the value of Canadian exports. Forests cover some 4.2 million sq km (some 1.6 million sq mi) of the country, and the provincial and federal governments own about 90 per cent of this land. Canada has more than 150 varieties of native trees; about 80 per cent of them are softwoods, such as spruce, Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar, and balsam. Canada’s annual timber harvest in 2006 was about 206 million cu m (7.27 billion cu ft). Forestry sustains a complex and diversified export and domestic industry, employing more than 250,000 people. Canada leads the world in newsprint production, with about 28 per cent, and accounts for more than half of world exports; most of the Canadian export is sent to the United States. The sawmill and planing-mill industry is centred in British Columbia. Quebec and Ontario lead the nation in pulp and paper production.
The fishing resources of the country are harvested from the north-western Atlantic and north-eastern Pacific oceans and from the most extensive bodies of fresh water in the world. In the early 1990s the number of people employed in fishing or fish-processing operations was approximately 114,600. Most of the yearly output of the fishing industry, which has a market value of about US$2,000 million per year, is exported, making Canada one of the world’s pre-eminent fish exporters. The catch, which totalled some 1.5 million tonnes annually in 1991, before dropping sharply to 1,255,821 tonnes in 2005 (in an effort to prevent overfishing of depleted stocks), includes cod, herring, salmon, flounder, lobster, scallops, crab, and redfish. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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