The Canadian dollar, denoted by CAD or C, is the official currency of Canada. One hundred cents () add up to one Canadian dollar.
The CAD was first printed by the Bank of Montreal in 1817, and finally became official by the Province of Canada on January 1, 1858. The nation adopted the dollar instead of a pound sterling system due to the prevalence of Spanish dollars in North America in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Additionally, the US dollar's standardization factored into the nation's decision.
Canadians use coins and bills of denominations similar to those of the United States currency. The historical sizes of the coins less than 50 are identical to those of U.S. coins due to both nations using the Spanish dollar as the basis of their money. Modest quantities of U.S. coinage circulate in Canada at par, and some Canadian coins (generally less than one-dollar) circulate in some places in the United States as well, though recent changes to the appearance and composition of Canadian coinage have made it more difficult for these coins to be used in the United States. In Canada, it is common to find U.S. 1, 5, 10, and 25 coins in circulation (just as there are Australian 5, 10, 20, and 50 coins in New Zealand and vice versa).
The Royal Canadian Mint issues Canadian coins, while the Bank of Canada issues bills (though production itself is outsourced to the British American Bank Note Company and the Canadian Bank Note Company). The wording on the notes is in both English and French (as both languages are official in Canada). On the reverse sides, however, the name and title of Canada's monarch appear in an abbreviated-Latin circumscription. As of mid-2005, this reads "ELIZABETH II D. G. REGINA," with initials standing for "Dei Gratia." the entire phrase means "Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Queen."
The Canadian dollar is often referred to as "buck," as with the United States dollar. Additionally, the word "loonie" is used to distinguish the Canadian dollar from other currencies, especially in the context of foreign exchange trading and the currency markets
. In Canadian French, the currency is called "le dollar," and slang terms include "piastre" or "piasse" which is equivalent to the "buck" term in English. Finally, the French equivalent of "loonie" is "huard," and since huard is French for loon, the animal appears on the face of the coin.
Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country's access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.
What does it look like?
Canada's legal framework is completely governed by its constitution. The federal government and the governments of nine provinces agreed to patriation of the constitution, with procedures for amending it (1981). Quebec did not agree to the changes and thus Quebec nationalists refer to the night as the Night of Long Knives.
The head of Canadian government is the Prime Minister, who in practice belongs to the leader of the political party able to command a majority of the House of Commons. The governor general and confirmed by a vote of confidence in the Commons formally appoints the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, once elected, appoints the Cabinet from the members of his party in both legislative houses. The prime minister and cabinet, all of whom are sworn into the Privy Council of Canada (and become ministers of the Crown), exercise executive power.
The legislative branch is comprised of two houses, the elected House of Commons and the appointed Senate. Members of the Commons are elected by "simple plurality" in one electoral district; the governor general calls elections when the prime minister advises so, and must occur at least every five years. The Senate members are chosen by the prime minister and appointed by the governor general; they serve until age 75.
The judicial branch is vital to the Canadian government for interpreting laws. The judiciary has the power to strike down any laws that violate the constitution in its opinion. The Supreme Court of Canada is the nation's highest court and final arbiter. All judges are the superiors, appellate and Supreme Court levels are selected and appointed by the federal government, after consultation with non-governmental legal bodies.
The nation is governed by common law except for in Quebec, where civil law predominates. Criminal law is solely a federal responsibility and is uniform throughout Canada. Law enforcement, including criminal courts, is a provincial responsibility, but in most provinces policing is contracted to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP is the only police force in the world to perform three different levels of enforcement: municipal, provincial, and federal.
- Prominent Figures Governor General: Michalle Jean
- Prime Minister: Stephen Harper
- Deputy Prime Ministers: None currently appointed
- Governor, Bank of Canada: David Dodge
- Key Economic Factors Economic Overview: As an affluent, high-tech industrial society that has recently entered in the trillion dollar class, Canada's economy closely resembles that of the United States. Canada's economy is market-oriented, highly affluent, and also follows a pattern of production like that of the United States. Since World War II, Canada has transformed from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban; this has been mostly due to the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) touched off a striking increase in trade and economic integration with the US. Given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant Canada enjoys solid economic prospects. Solid fiscal management has produced a long-term budget surplus, which is substantially reducing the national debt. Despite this improvement, however, the nation continues to question how it will manage the rising cost of its publicly funded healthcare system. Exports account for roughly a third of GDP. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with its principal trading partner, the United States, which absorbs more than 85% of Canadian exports.
- Key Industries: Transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas.
- Agricultural Products: Wheat, barley, oilseed, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, forest products and fish.
- Export Commodities: Motor vehicles, motor parts, industrial machinery, aircraft, chemicals, telecommunications equipment, plastics, fertilizers, wood pulp, timber, crude petroleum, natural gas, electricity and aluminum.
- Import Commodities: Machinery and equipment, motor vehicles and parts, crude oil, chemicals, electricity and durable consumer goods.
- Other Currencies Accepted: All major currencies accepted
- Currency Peg: No
- Black Market for Currency: Yes
- Currency Volatility: Low
- Estimated GDP Per Capita: 31,500 USD (2004)
- Languages Spoken: English, French (official) and others