Despite being the 2nd biggest country in the world in landmass, Canada has a population 1/10th the size of the United States. As such, Canada has a tendency to be overlooked on the map, despite being a fascinating country.

How many Canada facts do you know? Here are some surprising things you may not know about the U.S. neighbor to the north:

1. The Canadian Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II


Here is one of the most interesting facts about Canada that surprises Americans. Did you know that the Canadian Head of State is still Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch? Canada passed back and forth between French and British monarchs over the centuries before becoming an independent nation. The queen no longer “reigns’ over Canada, but she still plays a significant role in the government and in Canada’s national identity, and appears prominently on Canadian currency.

2. Winnie The Pooh Was Based On A Canadian Bear


In the year 1915, a black bear cub from Canada named Winnipeg, or “Winnie,” was donated to a zoo in London. Christopher Robin Milne, then a child, saw the bear cub and quickly decided it was one of his favorite animals in the park. His father, A.A. Milne, took this as part of the inspiration for his Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

3. The West Edmonton Mall is the largest in North America


The West Edmonton Mall, located in Edmonton, Alberta, once reigned as the largest shopping mall in the world, but now comes in only at tenth place. Nonetheless, it still possesses the second largest indoor amusement park on Earth, as well as the largest mall in North America. It held the #1 ranking on the planet until 2004, so those nine malls which now outsize it have been constructed all within the past decade.

Just how big is the West Edmonton Mall? Twenty thousand vehicles can park in its lots, and there are over 800 different stores and 23,000 employees. Between 60,000 and 150,000 shoppers come to the mall each day. Attractions include Galaxyland, a 24 ride indoor amusement park, complete with rollercoasters. There is also a large waterpark, a miniature golf course, several sea lions in an indoor lake, an ice hockey rink, a casino, a comedy club, and a major concert venue.

4.Lowest Temperature Ever in North America was in Canada


The lowest temperature ever recorded in North America was in Canada in Snag, Yukon Territory. The record setting temperature was negative 63 degrees Celsius, and was recorded on February 3rd, 1947. Some parts of Canada are snow-covered for around six months out of every year.

5. Quebec City is the only Walled city in Canada & The United States


You may think of the concept of a walled city as a relic of bygone times, but Québec City still retains its ramparts today. That makes it the only remaining walled city in North America north of Mexico. The walls surround the Old Québec district of the city, which is also a World Heritage site. There are four gates currently in existence, several of which were demolished and had to be rebuilt. Only the Port Kent gate constructed in 1879 is still the original.

6. “Canada” was a linguistic error


The name “Canada” is an amusing linguistic error, resulting from a misunderstanding by Jacques Cartier, a French explorer. When Cartier was visiting the new world, the indigenous people attempted to invite him to visit their village. The word for “village” in the indigenous tongue was “kanata.” Cartier misunderstood, and believed they were referring to the entire country as “Kanata.” As such, he referred to the country as “Kanata,” which is how it received its current name, “Canada.”

7. Lacrosse was played by First Nations Peoples


The sport of lacrosse originated in Canada. It was originally played by indigenous tribesmen, and has evolved into four different types of lacrosse games, including men’s and women’s field lacrosse, box lacrosse and intercrosse. It is believed that the history of the game dates back to 1100 AD. Traditional Canadian lacrosse teams had as many as 1,000 players! Games could be played on fields which were as long as 3 kilometers.

8. Basketball Was Invented By A Canadian


Basketball didn’t originate in Canada, but the man who invented it was a Canadian living in Massachusetts. James Naismith came up with the game so that his physical education students would have something to do during the cold winter months.

9. Canada’s National Flag Was Created in 1965


Canada didn’t actually get a national flag until the year 1965. Nova Scotia was granted a flag by King Charles clear back in 1625, but the nation as a whole didn’t adopt the maple leaf until more than three centuries later. Prior to that, the British maritime flag stood in for general use.

10. 10% Of The World’s Forest Is In Canada


A full tenth of the world’s forests are located in Canada. Nearly half of the country’s land is covered with trees.

11. First Known European Born in North America was born in Vinland

Norse long house recreation, L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Norse long house recreation, L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

The very first child born to European parents in North America was Snorri, born in Vinland around 1000 AD to parents Thorfin and Gudrid.

12. Nunavut is the northernmost permanent settlement in the World

Northeast coast of Baffin Island north of Community of Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada

Northeast coast of Baffin Island north of Community of Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada

The northernmost permanent settlement in the world is Alert, Nunavut. While the settlement itself is permanent, the personnel is entirely rotating. The settlement was named for the HMS Alert, and is home to a number of different operations, including a radio receiving facility for the Canadian Forces, an Environment Canada weather station, the Global Atmosphere Watch atmosphere monitoring laboratory, and the Alert Airport.

13. Canada has the 9th lowest population density on the planet


Canada is that it has the ninth lowest population density on the planet. Just how low is low? There are roughly 8.6 people per square kilometer, according to the 2009 CIA World Factbook. Of course, most of those people are concentrated in cities and towns, but that tells you just how empty the rural areas really are.

Much of Canada is very desolate, which makes it a perfect haven for nature lovers. In terms of landmass, Canada is actually the second largest country on the planet, following Russia, measuring 3,855,103 square miles. The border between the United States and Canada is the longest on the planet, measuring 5,525 miles.

Snow covers the ground 10 months of the year and in some spots never goes away. The warmest month is July, with temperatures ranging around 37.9 degrees Celsius. The daily mean temperature during the coldest month, February, is negative 33.4 degrees Celsius.

Those interesting facts are just a few of many; Canada is a huge and diverse country with a rich history. If you enjoyed reading these Canada facts, be sure to look up more about the country’s history, parkland, politics, and modern culture.