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Canada

Canada is an almost incomprehensively huge country, full of contrasts and scenic beauty as well as some of North America's most dynamic cities. While the archetypal image of Canada as a snowy, mountain-clad country holds true in many regions, many visitors are surprised to learn that Canada also boasts wide sandy beaches, sky-scraper filled, bustling cities and lush rainforests.

There's a wealth of vibrant, varied culture to be experienced, too, from Toronto's Chinatown to historical environs of French-speaking cities such as Montréal and Québec. Canada truly does have something for everyone. You can go skiing or snowboarding on the superlative slopes of Whistler, one of the world's most renowned winter sports mecca's; experience the fantastic site that is Niagara Falls; go sea kayaking with spot whales and spot polar bears on an expedition through the country's remote Northern Frontier, or just absorb the laid-back, friendly vibe of Vancouver, consistently voted alongside Syndey in Australia as one of the best places to live on the globe.

Nature buffs and lovers of the great outdoors are spoilt for choice in Alberta, a highly mountainous region rich in national parks and home to the legendary Rocky Mountains. The inspirational scenery comes as standard here, but if it's shopping that gets you hot under the collar, head to Edmonton, which has the dubious honour of being home to the largest shopping complex in the world!

British Columbia is equally blessed, boasting a range of attractions, from the winter wonderland of Whistler mentioned earlier to one of the Canadians' favourite summer retreats, the lakeside beaches of Okanagan. It also boasts one of the world's most scenically sited cites in Vancouver, a green, clean and serene city which succeeds in combining natural beauty with all the energy and attractions of a major metropolis and a fantastic nightlife.

The province of Québec is just as beguiling as British Columbia and is Canada's French-speaking heartland, rich in history and culture, and possessing a fascinating blend of North American and Gallic influence. The stunning Québec City boasts elegant districts that have more than a passing resemblance to the boulevards of Paris, while Montréal abounds with clutches of quaint, European-style churches. Dining is exceptional too, and expect your culinary experience to have a French flavour.

If you're after a taste of Canada at its most unbridled and an insight into the country at its most traditional, the remote islands and towns of the Maritime Provinces and Central Canada offer rugged coastlines a huge abundance of rare wildlife, and quaint, tranquil villages where life is peaceful and a million miles from the stresses and strains of the 21st century.

Medical care is good, but expensive; insurance recommended.

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