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Country Guides for North America



Many travelers come to Canada to enjoy the forests, mountains, lakes and wildlife, and rightly so. This huge country, with its 41 national parks and 13 UNESCO World Heritage sites offers some of the most unbelievably beautiful natural treasures in the world. Wildlife such as bear, beaver, moose, elk, caribou and hundreds of bird species are regularly spotted in their natural homes. Equally compelling are the modern, culturally diverse cities that span the country, each with its own style and identity.

Language: English 59.3% (official), French 23.2% (official), other 17.5%.

Major International Airports Include:


From City
CalgaryCalgary Int'lYYC12 miles NE
MontrealMontreal-Trudeau Int'lYUL16 miles NW
OttawaMacdonald Cartier Int'lYOW5 miles S
TorontoLester B Pearson Int'lYYZ17 miles NW
VancouverVancouver Int'lYVR8 miles S

The incidence of communicable diseases is such that they are unlikely to prove a hazard for international travelers greater than that found in their own country. There are, of course, health risks, but in general, the precautions required are minimal.

Certain diseases occasionally occur, such as plague, rabies in wildlife, including bats, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, arthropod-borne encephalitis, and seasonal outbreaks of influenza.

Rodent-borne hantavirus pulmonary syndrome has been identified, predominantly in the western states of the United States. Lyme disease is endemic in the northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic, and the upper Midwest and the southwestern provinces of Canada. Occasional cases have been reported from the Pacific Northwest. Recently, cases of West Nile virus have occurred throughout North America. During recent years, the incidence of certain foodborne diseases, e.g., E. coli O157:H7 and salmonellosis, has increased in some regions. Other hazards include poisonous snakes, poison ivy, and poison oak. In the north, a serious hazard is the very low temperature in the winter.

Isolated cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE/mad cow disease) have been reported in Canada and the United States. For more information, see and

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While few significant insect-borne diseases are present in Canada, mosquitoes, no-see-ums and blackflies are present (and biting) in large numbers in the spring and summer. There is also a risk of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease from tick bites. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing, particularly in rural areas.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

The municipal water supply in Canada is considered safe to drink.

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

CRIME: Although criminal activity in Canada is more common in urban areas, violent crimes such as murder, armed robbery, and rape can occur infrequently throughout the country. Visitors to large cities should be aware that parked cars are regularly targeted for opportunistic smash-and-grab thefts, and they are cautioned to avoid leaving any possessions unattended in a vehicle, even in the trunk. Due to the high incidence of such crimes, motorists in Montreal and some other jurisdictions can be fined for leaving their car doors unlocked or for leaving valuables in view.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. Each of Canada's provinces has a Crime Victim Compensation Board.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Canada's climate varies from temperate in south to subarctic and arctic in north, from mild marine weather in the west to more extreme continental conditions in the east. On the west coast of British Columbia the climate is moderated by the Pacific Ocean. The summers are warm and wet, and the winters are cool and wet with occasional winter snowfall. Moving east to the interior of BC the weather is hotter and dryer in the summer (although afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon), and the winters are cooler and dryer. East of the Rocky Mountains are the prairies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The summers are warm and wet, and the winters are very cold. Summer thunderstorms and winter snows and blizzards are likely. Southern Alberta's winter is occasionally provided a temporary respite by the warm Chinook winds that can dramatically raise the temperature (as much as 35 degrees F) in just a few hours. To the east, the weather in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland is influenced by the North Atlantic Ocean. Summers are cool to warm, and winters are very cold. Cloudy, wet conditions occur year round. To the North, the long summer days are cool to warm, and the winters are severely cold. Most northern areas can expect some precipitation year round.

Precip. Days
Precip. Totals
Saint Johns21660"

Canada's electrical current is 110/60 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

When entering from the United States, U.S. citizens are encouraged to show a U.S. passport. If they do not have a passport, they should be prepared to provide photo ID and proof of U.S. citizenship such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or expired U.S. passport. U.S. citizens entering Canada from a third country must have a valid passport. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens for a stay up to 180 days. Anyone with a criminal record (including a DWI charge) may be excluded or removed from Canada, and should contact the Canadian Embassy or nearest Canadian consulate before travel. A waiver of exclusion may be available but several weeks processing are required and a fee must be paid. For further information on entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of Canada at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W, Washington, D.C. 20001, tel. (202) 682-1740, or the Canadian consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, San Juan or Seattle. The Embassy of Canada maintains a website at:

Source: U.S. Department of State

The multiple time zones for Canada are the same for all of North America, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Montreal, Quebec would also be 12:00 noon. If it is 12:00 noon in San Francisco it is 12:00 noon in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The unit of currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar (CAD).

Look up the current exchange rate using's Universal Currency Converter

Traveled to Canada?

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"Environment Canada has a website for weather in Canada and the world.

Canada's 2 largest cities, Toronto and Montreal, have Florida-like weather in August with humidity and temperatures in the 90s (Farenheit) so dress appropriately.