Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being the head of state.
The country is officially bilingual at the federal level.
As a consequence of various conflicts, the United Kingdom gained and lost territories within British North America until it was left, in the late 18th century, with what mostly geographically comprises Canada today.
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The majority of the country has a cold or severely cold winter climate, but southerly areas are warm in summer.
Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land territory being dominated by forest and tundra and the Rocky Mountains.
This began an accretion of provinces and territories to the mostly self-governing Dominion to the present ten provinces and three territories forming modern Canada.
In 1931, Canada achieved near total independence from the United Kingdom with the Statute of Westminster 1931, and full sovereignty was attained when the Canada Act 1982 removed the last remaining ties of legal dependence on the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
About four-fifths of the country's population of 36 million people is urbanized and live near the southern border.