Canada celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding this year. Here's some facts and figures about the North American nation...

• Celebrations of the nation's 150th anniversary centred on Canada Day - 1st July - which marks the day in 1867 on which four former British colonies - Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick - were merged into a single new nation, the Dominion of Canada, through a process known as 'confederation'.

• The country achieved complete autonomy from Britain in 1931 under the Statute of Westminster but it wasn't until 1982 that the last legal powers, including the power to amend its own constitution were transferred to Canada. Queen Elizabeth II remains the head of state.

Canadian flag

 

Alberta

 

Toronto

IMAGES OF CANADA: Top - The Canadian flag with its iconic maple leaf; Middle - The natural beauty of Alberta; Below - The largest city - Toronto. PICTURES: Jonathan Denney/Unsplash/Matt Thomason/UnsplashAlex Shutin/Unsplash.

• Canada is the world's second largest country - comprising some 9.98 million square kilometres - and has the longest coastline of any nation in the world at 151,600 miles or 243,796 kilometres long. Despite its size, the current population is estimated, as of July, 2016, to be 35.36 million people, making it in the top 10 most sparsely populated nations in the world (although they are well educated - more than half of its residents possess college degrees making it officially the most learned country in the world).

•  The capital city, Ottawa, was originally named Bytown after Colonel John By, who headquartered on the site while building a canal connecting the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario. The largest city in Canada is Toronto with a population in 2016 of 2.7 million (Ottawa comes in at number four with a population of 934,000).

• The national anthem is O Canada which was originally named Chant national and was written by Adolphe-Basile Routhier (who provided the lyrics in French) and Calixa Lavallée (who provided the music) and first performed in 1880. It was approved by parliament in 1967 but only officially became the national anthem in 1980.

• The current Prime Minister is Justin Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, a towering figure in Canadian politics. Trudeau is the country's 23rd Prime Minister - the first was Sir John A Macdonald.

• Tim Hortons is one of the country's most prominent chains - the company says eight out of 10 cups of coffee sold are served at its outlets. The most popular sport in Canada is ice hockey.

• The province of Quebec, which was originally founded by France as part of 'New France' and acquired as a colony by Britain in 1763, remains predominantly French-speaking. In 1995, a referendum on whether the province should remain part of Canada was lost by a margin of less than one per cent (it followed an earlier referendum in 1980). Both English and French are the official languages of Canada.

• Canada is home to some 15,500 of the world's 25,000 polar bears. The country is also home to some 2.5 million caribou while other big animals include moose and grizzly bears.

• It can get cold in Canada. The lowest recorded temperature in Canada was -63 degrees Celsius (-81.4 degrees Fahrenheit), recorded at Snag, Yukon Territory, in 1947.

Other sources: The Canada EncyclopediaBBC Country Profile; CIA World Factbook; Fact Retriever; Huffington Post.