The coast of the Canadian mainland, about 58,500 km (36,350 mi) in length, is extremely broken and irregular. Large bays and peninsulas alternate, and Canada has numerous coastal islands, in addition to the Arctic Archipelago, with a total insular coastline of some 185,290 km (115,135 mi). Off the eastern coast the largest islands are Newfoundland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward, and Anticosti. Off the western coast, which is fringed with fiords, are Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Southampton Island, covering 41,214 sq km (15,913 sq mi), and many smaller islands are in Hudson Bay, a vast inland sea in east-central Canada. Although forests in Ontario and Quebec were badly affected by acid rain in the 1970s and 1980s caused by pollution originating in the United States, Canada’s own carbon dioxide emissions per capita were higher, at 4.1 tonnes per person per year. Canada is a signatory of a number of international environmental treaties, such as the Convention on Climate Change, the Montreal Protocol on CFC Emissions, and the Bio-Diversity Convention.
With its large areas of forest and important timber industry, Canada’s old-growth forest has been extensively logged for more than a century. Since the 1960s, however, legislation (usually at provincial level) has introduced increasing levels of obligation on timber companies to replant clear-cut areas, to ensure species diversity, and to minimize incidental damage from construction of logging roads. In this way, the area of old-growth forest logged as a proportion of all logging has continually diminished. Assisting this process has been the increase in the area protected within national and provincial parks; for instance, British Columbia has passed legislation increasing the area to be protected within BC provincial parks from some 25,000 sq km (9,650 sq mi) in the early 1990s to 100,000 sq km (38,600 sq mi—more than 10 per cent of the province’s area) by the end of the decade.
Excluding the Arctic Archipelago, six general physiographical regions are distinguishable in Canada: the Canadian Shield (also known as the Laurentian Plateau), Appalachian, Great Lakes, St Lawrence, Interior Plains, and Cordillera. The largest region, the Canadian Shield, extends from Labrador to the Great Bear Lake, from the Arctic Ocean to the Thousand Islands in the St Lawrence River, and into the United States west of Lake Superior and into northern New York State. This region of ancient granite rock, sparsely covered with soil and deeply eroded by glacial action, comprises all of Labrador (the easternmost part of the mainland, which is part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador), most of Quebec, northern Ontario, Manitoba, and most of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, with Hudson Bay in the centre.
Eastern Canada consists of the Appalachian region and the Great Lakes-St Lawrence lowlands. The former embraces the island of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. This region is an extension of the Appalachian mountain system and of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The Great Lakes-St Lawrence lowlands region, covering an area of about 98,420 sq km (38,000 sq mi) in southern Quebec and Ontario, is a generally level plain. This region includes the largest expanse of cultivable land in eastern and central Canada and most of the manufacturing industries of the nation. Bordering the Canadian Shield on the west is the Interior Plains, an extension of the Great Plains of the United States. About 1,300 km (800 mi) wide at the US border, it narrows to about 320 km (200 mi) west of Great Bear Lake and widens again at the mouth of the Mackenzie River on the coast of the Arctic Ocean to about 480 km (300 mi). Within the Interior Plains are the north-eastern corner of British Columbia, most of Alberta, the southern half of Saskatchewan, and the southern third of Manitoba. This region contains the most fertile soil in Canada. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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