Saturday, October 8, 2011

Comparisons Between Canada And The United States Of America

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." - John Adams

The following table consists of facts and statistics concerning Canada and the United States of America on: Geography, Resources & Environment; Demographics; Health; Education; Crime; Economy & Government Spending; Infrastructure & Communication; International Indices & Ratings; and Miscellaneous, as recent as Jan 1, 2011 (or most recent date available). Please also see the Summary below, for more information.





Geography, Resources & Environment

Total Area1

9,984,670 sq km
3,855,103 sq mi

9,826,630 sq km
3,794,083 sq mi

Canada has 1.6% more total area.

Land Area1

9,093,507 sq km
3,511,023 sq mi

9,161,923 sq km
3,537,438 sq mi

USA has 0.7% more land.

Arable Land1

415,573 sq km
160,454 sq mi

1,650,062 sq km
637,093 sq mi

USA has 4 times more arable land in total.

Irrigated Land (2008)1

8,550 sq km
3,301 sq mi

230,000 sq km
88,803 sq mi

USA has 26.9 times more irrigated land.

Forest and Wooded Land (1995)2

4,119,359 sq km
1,590,493 sq mi

2,986,786 sq km
1,153,205 sq mi

Canada has 27.5% more forested and wooded land.

Major Protected Areas (2008)2

609,265 sq km
235,239 sq mi

1,786,575 sq km
689,800 sq mi

USA has 2.9times more naturally protected areas as a percentage of total land.

Renewable Fresh water Supply (1985)3

3,300 cu km
792 cu mi

3,069 cu km
736 cu mi

Canada has 7% more renewable fresh water.

Energy Supply per capita (equivalent oil) (2008)2

8.07 tonnes

7.53 tonnes

Canada has 6.7% more energy per capita.

Total Emissions of Major Greenhouse Gases per capita (equivalent CO2) (2005)2

23.11 tonnes

24.50 tonnes

USA emits 5.7% more greenhouse gases per capita.

Livestock (2006)2

Cattle: 14,830

Sheep and Goats: 949

Equine: 389

Pigs: 14,690

Cattle: 96,702

Sheep and Goats: 9,067

Equine: 9,580

Pigs: 61,449

USA has 6.5 more cattle, 9.6 times more sheep and goats, 24.6 times more horses, mules and asses, and 4.2 times more pigs.

Wheat Production2

23,167,000 tonnes

60,093,000 tonnes

USA produces 2.6 times wheat annually.





USA has 9.2 times more people.

Age Structure (2011 est.)1

0-14 yrs: 15.7%
15-64 yrs: 68.5%
65 yrs +: 15.9%

0-14 yrs: 20.1%
15-64 yrs: 66.8%
65 yrs +: 13.1%

USA has a slightly younger population.

Population Growth Rate1

0.79% growth

0.96% growth

USA has a 17% higher growth rate.

Birth Rate (2011 est.)1

10.28 births / 1,000 population

13.83 births / 1,000 population

USA has a 25.7% higher birth rate.

Death Rate (July 2011 est.)1

7.98 deaths / 1,000 population

8.38 deaths / 1,000 population

USA has a 4.8% higher death rate.

Net Migration Rate (2011 est.)1

5.65 migrants / 1,000 population

4.18 migrants / 1,000 population

Canada has a 26% higher migrant rate.

Sex Ratio (2011 est.)1

0.98 male/female

0.97 male/female

Canada has a 1% greater male population.

Ethnic Groups

White: 83.5%

Asian: 10.5%

Native: 3.7%

Black: 2.3% (2006 est.)4

White: 81.2%

Black: 13.1%

Asian: 4.7%

Native: 1.0% (2008)5

Canada has 2.3% more Whites, 2.2 times more Asians, and 3.7 times more Natives. USA has 5.7 times more Blacks. All per capita. See below for further information.

Languages (spoken at home) (2006)

English: 66.5%

French: 21.9%

Chinese: 1.2%

Spanish: 0.7%4

English: 80.3%
Spanish: 12.2%

Chinese: 0.9%

French: 0.7%5

USA has 13.8% more English speakers, and 17.4 times more Spanish speakers. Canada has 31.3 times more French speakers and 0.3% more Chinese speakers. All per capita.


Roman Catholic: 42.6%

Protestant: 23.3%

Other: 18.1%

None: 16% (2001)

Protestant: 51.3

Roman Catholic: 23.9%

Other: 20.8%

None: 4% (2007)

Canada has 18.7% more Roman Catholics, and 12% more non-religious people. USA has 28% more Protestants. All per capita.

Literacy (2003)1



No discernible difference.

Married as % of population (2010)2



USA has a 6% higher married population.

Divorced as % of population (2010)2



USA has a 1% higher divorced population.

Foreign-born Population as % of population (2007)2



Canada has a 6.5% higher foreign-born population.

Urbanization (2010)1



USA is 1% more urbanized. (Note: Urban areas are defined differently by each country, and thus not entirely comparable.)

Top Three Major Cities Population (2009)1

Toronto: 5,377,000

Montreal: 3,750,000

Vancouver: 2,197,000

New York Metro: 19,300,000

Los Angeles Metro: 12,675,000

Chicago: 9,134,000

All of the USA's top 3 major cities are larger than Canada's, with the largest city (New York) having 3.6 times more people than Canada's largest city (Toronto).


Life Expectancy (2011 est.)1

81.38 years

78.37 years

Canada has a 3.7% higher life expectancy.

Infant Mortality (2011 est.)1

4.92 deaths / 1,000 population

6.06 deaths / 1,000 population

USA has a 18.8% greater infant mortality rate.

Fertility Rate (2011 est.)1



USA has a 23.3% higher fertility rate.

Doctors per 1000 population (2009)2



No discernible difference.

MRI Units per million population (2007)2



USA has 3.9 times more MRIs per capita.

Suicides per 100,000 population (2004)2



No discernible difference.

Tobacco Consumption as % of population (over 15 years old) (2009)2



Canada has 0.1% higher tobacco consumption per capita.

Alcohol Consumption - Total Liters per capita (over 15 years old) (2008)2



USA has 6.8% higher alcohol consumption in terms of total liters consumed per capita.

Obesity as % of total population (2008)2



USA has 28.4% greater obese population per capita.


PISA Math Performance Score (2009)2



Canada has a mean score 40 points higher than USA. Canada ranks 9th, and the USA 26th according to the Program for International Student Assessment.

PISA Science Performance Score (2009)2



Canada has a mean score 27 points higher than USA. Canada ranks 7th, and the USA 19th according to the Program for International Student Assessment.

PISA Reading Performance Score (2009)2



Canada has a mean score 24 points higher than USA. Canada ranks 8th, and the USA 10th according to the Program for International Student Assessment.

Post-secondary Graduation rate (2006)2



USA has 4.9% greater post-secondary graduation rate at the typical age of graduation.


Murder Rate per 100,000 population (2009)



USA has 2.8 times higher murder rate.

Victimization as % of total population (2005)2



USA has 0.3% higher population of people victimized.

Vehicle Theft as % of total population (2005)2



USA has 0.3% higher population of people having cars stolen.

Robbery as % of total population (2005)2



Canada has 0.2% higher population of people robbed.

Sexual Offenses as % of total female population (2005)2



USA has 1.3% higher population of women sexually offended.

Assault & Threat as % of total population (2005)2



USA has 1.3% higher population of people assaulted or threatened.

Consumer Fraud as % of total population (2005)2



USA has 5.1% higher population of people victimized in consumer fraud.

Corruption as % of total population (2005)2



Canada has 0.1% higher population of people victimized in corruption.

Safety At Night as % of total population (2005)2



USA has 2% higher population of people feeling unsafe at night.

Prison Population as % of total population (2009)2



USA has 6.6 times higher prison population.

Police Force (2008)7



USA has 10.9 times higher police force.

Economy & Government Spending


$1.613 trillion USD4

$14.755 trillion USD8

USA has 9.2 times greater GDP.

GDP per capita

$47,567 USD4

$47,106 USD8

Canada has 0.97% greater GDP per capita.

GDP Growth Rate2

1 year: 3.1%

10 year: 2.2%

1 year: 2.9%

10 year: 2.9%

Canada's GDP is growing 0.2% more over a 1 year period, and USA GDP is growing 0.7% more over a 10 year period.

GDP by Sector (2010 est)1







Very similar, with USA having a slightly more industry-based economy and less services and agriculture than Canada.

Industrial Growth Rate (2010 est)1



Canada's industrial production is growing at 2.5% greater rate.

Personal Disposable Income per capita (2009)9

$28,591 USD

$34,949 USD

USA has a 29.3% higher disposable income.

Unemployment Rate2



USA has a 1.6% higher unemployment rate.

Trading Partners - Exports / Imports

74.87% / 50.38%

3.31% / 11.03%

1.25% / 5.48% 4

19.49% / 14.51%

7.19% / 19.08%

12.79% / 12.02%

USA and Canada are eachothers largest trading partners, with Canada more heavily tied to the USA than vice versa, and Canada slightly less tied to China and Mexico than the USA.

Government Surplus/Deficit as % of GDP (2007)2



USA has 5.1% greater defict as expressed in % of GDP.

Public Debt as % of GDP2



USA has 9.4% larger gross debt as expressed in % of GDP.

Military Expenditure as % of GDP (2005)1 



USA spends 3.7 times more money on military as expressed in % of GDP.

Research & Development as % of GDP (2008)2



USA spends 1.5 times more money on R&D as expressed in % of GDP.

Old Age & Survivors Benefits Expenditure as % of GDP (2007)2



USA publicly spends 1.8% more on programs like Social Security.

ODA Development AID Expenditure as % of GNI2



Canada publicly spends 0.12%more on development AID as expressed in % of GNI.

Educational Expenditure as % of GDP (2005)2



USA spends 0.9% more money on education as expressed in % of GDP.

Health Care Expenditure as % of GDP (2009)2



USA spends 6% more money on health care as expressed in % of GDP.

Unemployment Benefits Expenditure as % of GDP (2007)2



Canada spends 2 times more money on unemployment benefits as expressed in % of GDP.

Total Government Expenditure as % of GDP2



Canada spends 1.5% more money in total as expressed in % of GDP.

Total Tax Receipts as % of GDP (2009)2



Canada collects 7.1% more taxes as expressed in % of GDP.

Total Tax Receipts per capita (2009)2



Canada collects 13.3% more taxes per capita

Total Property Taxes as % of GDP (2009)2



Canada collects 0.2% more property taxes as expressed in % of GDP.

Consumer Price Index (annual change)2



Canada has 0.2% higher CPI rate.

Prime Lending Rate (2010 est)1



USA has 0.25% higher lending rate.

Exchange Rate (Annual average for 2010)10

$0.9710 USD

$1.0299 CAD

USA dollar is 5.7% greater in value.

Infrastructure & Communication

Airports per million population (2010)1



USA has 14.1% more airports per capita.


46,552 km
28,926 mi (2009)

224,792 km
139,679 mi (2010)

USA has 4.8 times more railway miles.


1,042,300 km
647,655 mi (2009)

6,506,204 km
4,042,768 mi (2008)

USA has 6.2 times more roadway miles.

Merchant Marine (2010)1



USA has 2.3 times more ships. Canadians own an additional 223 ships registered in foreign countries, Americans own an additional 734 ships registered in foreign countries.

Telephones per capita (2009)1

1.24 lines

1.39 lines

USA has 10.8% more telephone lines, both land and cellular combined.

Internet Users as % of population (2009)1



Canada has 1.1% more internet users per capita.

International Indices & Ratings

Big Mac Index11

$5.00 USD

$4.07 USD

Big Macs cost 18.6% more in Canada according to the Economist.

Democracy Index11



Based on The Economist's experts' assesments of freely held elections, security of the voters, influence of foreign governments, and capability of civil servants.

Freedom of the Press Rating (2010)12



Based on Freedom House's analysis of each country's: legal, political and economic environments.

Global Peace Index11



Based on The Economist's experts' assesments of a multitude of issues relating to war, peace, crime and militarism.

IMD World Competitiveness Rating13



Based on IMD's analysis of each country's: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

United Nations HDI Rating14



Based on the United Nation's analsyis of each country's level of: income, health and education.


Independence Day1

July 1, 1867

July 4, 1776

USA is 91 years older (Note: Canada was not fully self-governing until December 11, 1931).

Representatives of Government (Legislative)1

House Members: 308

Senators: 105
Total per 1 mill pop: 12.6

House Members: 435

Senators: 100
Total per 1 mill pop: 1.8

USA has 122 more representatives. Canada has 7 times more representatives per capita.

Nobel Prize Laureates15



USA has 15 times more Nobel Laureates.

Awarded by committee in recognition of significant achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Note: Only native-born laureates counted toward country total, so USA total does not include 10 Canadians who did their work primarily in the USA, as well as other (76) foreign-born laureates.

Retirement Age2

65 years

66 years

USA has a 1 year higher retirement age in order to receive old age pension.

Patents per 100,000 population (2008)2



USA has 45% more patents per capita.


Geography, Resources & Environment: Canada and the United States are both very large nations, making up the vast majority of the North American continent. Canada has a slightly larger territory, and the USA has slightly more land. On a physical map, the two countries appear to be on an equal footing, but in reality, much of Canada is unsuitable for normal living conditions due to the very cold climate. This has resulted in the majority of Canada's population living along a long strip of land straddling the US border (See Canada population distribution map). Even so, the large geography of Canada does contain a great many natural resources, including one of the world's largest fresh water supplies, vast amounts of natural gas, oil and hydro power. Although not counted as a renewable fresh water resource, Canada and the USA share the the Great Lakes, which contain nearly 6 quadrillion gallons of water.16 Combined, Canada and the USA would make the largest nation on Earth with the largest amount of fresh water supply.

Demographics: If people are any measure of a nation's power, the largest advantage the USA has over Canada is its much larger population. The USA and Canadian growth rates are fairly comparable, but, on paper at least, the way they are growing is slightly different. Statistically, the USA relies less on immigration than Canada, and thus has a larger internal growth rate. Of course, one must consider the uncounted number of illegal migrants, which some estimate number as much as 20 million, a majority of which come from Latin America17. Due to the fact that Canada does not share borders with less developed nations, illegal immigration is much less of a problem.

The US Census Bureau and Statistics Canada classify ethnic groups differently, and therefore a true comparison between the two is difficult. However, Statistics Canada does record "Visible Minorities" so some inferences can be made. The USA statistic above was calculated by looking at "one race only" results and ignoring all races which could not be assigned to either White, Black, Asian or Native American. Original data can be viewed from this link. The Canadian statistic above was calculated by classifying all Blacks as "Black", all South Asian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Southeast Asian, and Filipinos as "Asian", all Aboriginals as "Native", and all others as "White". We can see according to this estimate that Canada has slightly more Whites, one sixth as many Blacks, over two times as many Asians, and over three times as many Native Americans, proportionally.

Linguistically, an easier comparison can be made, and it should be no surprise that Canada has many more French speakers, and the USA many more Spanish speakers. While Canada is officially a bilingual country, and the USA has no official language, in reality they are both dominated by the English language. Canada has a smaller English majority largely due to the French-speaking province of Quebec; a heavily Catholic province. The USA has a much larger Spanish-speaking population due to its proximity to Latin America, and control of former Spanish colonies.

After looking at all the data, there are noticeable differences between the two countries in terms of: ethnicity, language and religious affiliation. However, in all cases the differences become much smaller when compared regionally. For example, Washington State's ethnic population makeup is as follows: White 81.8%, Asian 5.5%, Black 3.2%, and Native 1.6%.5 By and large, northern states, like their Canadian provincial counterparts, tend to have less Black people and more Native Americans. Canadian national figures for language and religion are skewed by the large Catholic presence in Quebec, but on the whole the areas that surround Quebec are much more Catholic than the rest of the United States, and even more French. For example, USA Today estimates that New York and Vermont have a 38% Catholic population; Massachusetts with 51%, while states like South Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah only have a 6 or 7% Catholic population.18 Likewise, the US Census Bureau reports that 41% of all ethnic French-Canadians in the USA live in the Northeast, nearest to Quebec, though it is difficult to know how many of them speak French at home, as such information is not recorded on the state level. Spanish speaking is a subject the US Census bureau reports, and with that we find that, once again, northern states rank much lower. Washington, North Dakota, Michigan and Maine have the following numbers of Spanish speakers respectfully: 7.3%, 1.4%, 2.9% and 0.9%; Still all higher than the Canadian average, but, excepting Washington, much closer to Canadian norms.

Health: Canada has long boasted a higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality rate and much smaller obese population, despite spending less on health care as % of GDP. The USA also has a slightly higher alcohol consumption rate, which could be accounted for by the lower cost of alcohol; however, tobacco is also cheaper in the USA, but roughly the same amount use it in either country.

One area the USA dwarfs Canada is its much higher availability of expensive procedures such as MRI machines, which tends to have a long waiting list in Canada. While not listed, CT machines and other expensive machineries have comparably large differences between the two countries. The aforementioned exemplifies perhaps one of the largest dissimilarities between Canada and the USA; that being the national health policies. While the USA can vaunt an abundance of advanced technologies, drug research and cutting-edge procedures, Canada's national health policy is clearly more egalitarian. Canada may not provide the absolute best care possible, like the USA, but it does deliver quality health care to all citizens irregardless of income. Benefits and drawbacks can be found in both systems, particularly to very high and very low income earners. Both US and Canadian media tend to provide egregious examples of those shortcomings whenever they arise.

Interestingly, despite the different focus on health care delivery in either country, both obesity and life expectancies do show the same geographic similarities that can be found in many other areas. See: Average Life Expectancy at Birth by State, and Obesity Rates.

Education: Education is a difficult area to compare, as there are few international standards to compare in a fair manner. The two best known to gauge education are: Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). However, only PISA has both the USA and Canada in the list of countries they evaluate. Strangely, TIMSS uses different provinces of Canada, but doesn't evaluate the entire country. Overall, the USA fairs much better using TIMSS over PISA when compared against other countries, and Canada surpasses the USA under every measure using PISA. Comparing state against province, the two states (Minnesota & Massachusetts) achieve much higher scores than all provinces evaluated (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario & Quebec) in both math and science, but this is not a very good measure for comparing the two countries as a whole, as those two states are generally among the highest achieving. One last bit of interesting data is that despite the higher amount of government subsidized education in Canada, the USA has almost a 5% greater graduation rate. This can be attributed to the much higher amount of private bursaries and scholarships that can be found in the USA compared with Canada.

Crime: There is no denying that the USA has more crime. The only two areas that Canada is more dangerous is in terms of robberies and perception of corruption. The two most striking statistics are the much higher murder rate (2.8 times) and much higher prison population (6.6 times) in the USA. Both Canada and the USA have reduced crime rates over the past 30 years, and the gap between the two is now much smaller than in the past, but even with much harsher sentencing and larger prison population, the USA continues to be a less safe place to live.

Again, geography plays a very important role, and when comparing murder, the easiest statistic to compare directly, we find that Quebec, Ontario, the Atlantic provinces, the New England states, Hawaii, and the Upper Midwest states all have very low murder rates; Western Canada, the Mid-Atlantic and Central states have moderate murder rates; and that the Northern Territories, Alaska, Southern and Western states generally have high murder rates. See: North American Murder Map.

Economy and Government Spending: It is well known that the USA has had the strongest economy in the world since the post WWII era. Comparatively, the USA has more than double the GDP of the second highest ranked country, China, which is just over 5.8 trillion.19 However, the statistic that really shows how well a country is doing comparative to their population is the GDP per capita figure. In this category, both Canada and the USA are listed in the top ten countries of the world, with Canada slightly edging the USA for the first time in the modern era this year. Canada is projected to grow faster over a one-year period, while the USA has a slightly better ten-year growth rate level. In make-up of the economy, the two countries are nearly identical, but Canada can boast a better industrial growth rate. Unemployment and public debt are two other figures that have always proven to be lower in the USA, until this year; like with the historically anomalous GDP per capita figure, these numbers changed for the first time in 50 years after the late 2000s recession. Despite the more sour figures for the USA in 2011, personal disposable income still remains much higher compared to Canadian levels, and the US dollar, the world's reserve currency, still remains higher than the Canadian one on average.

Until recently, market size has always insured that the USA had better figures than Canada, and if history is any measure, this will play an important role in the future. Interestingly, if the European Union is counted as a nation, it would have a larger GDP than the United States, but Canada and the United States combined would make the world's largest economy together.

While historically Canadians have always had a much larger government per capita, in today's reality, Canada only spends 1.5% more as a % of GDP than the USA. In fact, the USA spends more on the military, research and development, social security, education, and health care. While this may seem impossible, knowing that Canada and the USA spend roughly the same overall, not all categories are accurately comparable or even listed by the OECD or others. For example, while the USA spends more on social security, the single largest expenditure Canada has is its social services, which are roughly 10% higher as % of GDP than the comparable US figure. Canada also sends a great deal of money to the provinces in the form of transfer payments, which also skews the interpretation of the data.

Infrastructure & Communication: Notwithstanding southern Ontario, if an individual were to travel by car from Canada to the USA, a noticeable difference is the interstate system that stretches from the most urban to rural populations of the United States of America. While Quebec and Ontario have similar provincial highway systems, they largely end where the population does. In Manitoba, it is not unusual for the only major highway leading south to be flooded for a month of the year, but open on the US side; for there to be vast sections of the only highway in a province to be undivided; or to drive for hundreds of miles on the Canadian side without seeing an overpass, while on the US side seeing dozens over nearly the same geography and population density. Even so, on a per capita basis Canada certainly has more total roadways, railway and merchant marine, and only trails in the category of airports and telephones.

International Indices & Ratings: There are many different organizations that compare countries, and only a few of the most famous or interesting ones are listed here.

The Big Mac Index is a somewhat comical but also interesting and simplistic way to compare nations around the world. It is in essence comparing the value of a McDonalds Big Mac in countries around the world. By this measure, an American has an almost 20% better purchasing power than a Canadian.

Like the Big Mac Index, the Democracy and Global Peace Indices were also created by the Economist. Unlike some of the other indices listed, they are largely constructed by experts rather than hard numbers alone. In both categories, the USA ranks poorly, especially so when it comes to the Global Peace Index. These and other indices like them are highly criticized by many organizations, but do offer a wealth of interesting information, even if the rankings don't indicate how great the nation is. For example, considering that Canada joined World War I and World War II before the USA, would that mean it is a lesser nation since it would surely rank much lower on the Global Peace Index if it existed at that time?

IMD uses a variety of statistics attempting to find the most competitive nations by analyzing four major factors (economy, government, business and infrastructure), and twenty sub-factors. The USA has long held its #1 position.

Freedom House ratings are entirely analytically derived, but use many examples to justify their scores. The two major ratings are for general freedom of the country and freedom of the press. The former simply categorizes countries into: Free, Partially Free, or Not Free. As can be expected, both Canada and the USA come out as "Free", but surprisingly, neither list within the top ten for the freedom of the press rating. It is worth noting that all the Scandinavian countries rank very high, despite the fact that they all have a large amount of government control in the media, and despite the fact that libel and defamation are much more of a concern in these countries.

The United Nations Human Development Index is perhaps the most famous index, and rates a country based on its income, health and education. Until the formula was slightly modified in 2010, this was a statistic that often put Canada above the USA, and in the 1990s when Canada scored first year after year, was touted by Prime Minister Chretien as proof that Canada was the "best country in the world". Unmentioned, now or before, is that the statistical difference between any first world country listed in the HDI is negligible, and as has been shown with the 2010 revision, can easily change the ranking with a slight modification of the equation.


    1. CIA World Factbook
    2. OECD
    3. The Pacific Institute
    4. Statistics Canada
    5. United States Census Bureau
    6. Federal Bureau of Investigation
    7. Eurostat
    8. United States Department of Commerce
    9. Centre for the Study of Living Standards
    10. Bank of Canada
    11. The Economist
    12. Freedom House
    13. IMD International
    14. United Nations Human Development Report
    15. Nobel e-Museum
    16. Great Lakes Information Network
    17. Illegal immigrants in the US: How many are there?
    18. What is your religion.. if any?
    19. The World Bank
Thanks to United North America

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