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May 2016



A wildfire has engulfed an enormous part of Alberta Canada. The fire beginning on May 1st grew with such rapidity that it required the evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. Thousands have sought refuge in area shelters including: arenas, hockey rinks, and school gymnasiums.

Fort McMurray lies over 450km to the northwest of Edmonton, Alberta (the Provincial Capital). Fort McMurray grew to prominence during the Oil Sands Project in the 1960s. Alberta is known as one of the Prairie Provinces of Canada, but it is also rich in oil and heavily forested. Alberta also includes a portion of Glacier National Park.

Canada is the second largest country in the world and it is the largest country that borders only one other country. Its climate varies from temperate in the south to subarctic and arctic in the north. Canada's terrain consists of the steep Canadian Rockies in the the west, plains through the central portion, and lowlands in the southeast. The highest point in Canada is Mount Logan (5959 m). The natural resources of Canada include: iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, rare earth elements, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, and natural gas.

A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867, while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically, the nation has developed in parallel with the US; sharing the world's longest international border. Canada operates with two official languages, English and French. Its government is a federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm. There are ten provinces and three territories in Canada; Ottawa, the capital, is located in the Province of Ontario. Canada spans six time zones.

While Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, she is represented by the Governor General, David Johnston (since October 2010). The functioning head of government is the Prime Minister, Justin Pierre James Trudeau (since November 2015). The Governor General is appointed by the monarchy; the Prime Minister is an elected member of Parliament.

CIA World Factbook; The Columbia Gazetteer, 4/2016; 5/2016