To which language should you translate to localize in Canada?
Canada has two official federal languages, English and French, eight provinces in which English is the official language, one in which French is the official language, one province and one territory in which both French and English are official languages, and two territories with different mixes of English, French and Aboriginal languages (from the Dene, Inuit and Cree families) counted as official. To simplify.
In practice, almost everyone in Canada speaks one of the two federal official languages (and a bit under 80% as a mother tongue). A large majority of Canadian French speakers live in Québec, but they are present through Canada, with significant communities in Ontario and the Maritime provinces on the eastern coast (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). Most English speakers are not bilingual, and while a larger amount of French speakers are, localizing in Canada still means localizing in both languages. In fact, in some cases it’s illegal not to : the Charte de la langue française (Charter of the French language) mandates the use of French by businesses operating in the province of Québec (nearly a fourth of the population).
Canadian English is fairly close to American English, though it retains some elements of British spelling. We use localize like the Americans, but colour like the British. French Canadian has a more complicated relationship to its European variant, and the differences are strongly dependent on register. The differences are small in technical, academic or administrative contexts, but a natural, somewhat informal voice in Canada is very different from the same in France, from the use of pronouns like tu and on, to the use of anglicisms (and which anglicisms), to preferences in structure. In both cases, speakers will generally understand the variants, but they will notice the differences and those differences will grow more jarring the more a text has creative or marketing intent.
Now, if you need others information about that country to make your decision, below you can find a selection of economic/social/cultural data
English and French
Approximately 56.9% of the population of Canada speaks English as a native language, while 21.3% speak French as a first language. Additionally, 85.6% of the population is able to communicate in English and 30.1% are able to speak and understand French.
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Currency: Canadian dollar
Population density: 4/km2
GDP: 1.99 trillion USD (2020)
GDP per capita: 52,051.4 USD (2020)
Exports: $371 billion (2020)
Internet users: 96.5% penetration, 36.89 million
Unemployment rate: 13% (2020)
Urbanisation: 81.41% (2020)
Literacy: 99% (2019)
Arabic numbering system, point as decimal separator and comma as separator of thousands
Date format: yyyy-mm-dd / mm-dd-yyyy
Time: 12h time system (am/pm) – except Quebec (24h)
Country code: 001
Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal
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Facts and data
$395 billion (2020). Cars ($21.7B), Vehicle Parts ($14.6B), Delivery Trucks ($11.6B), Broadcasting Equipment ($9.74B), and Gold ($8.98B), importing mostly from United States ($218B), China ($49.5B), Mexico ($16.1B), Germany ($10.9B), and Japan ($8.14B).
Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of age)
• 48% have an account with a financial institution
• 24% have a credit card
• 2.4% have a mobile money account
• 19% make online purchases
Ease of doing business
Very easy to conduct business (rated 79.6 out of 100). 14th out of 34 countries in the OECD and High income group, 23rd worldwide out of 190 countries (2020, World Bank)
$371 billion (2020). Crude Petroleum ($47.2B), Cars ($31.8B), Gold ($14.4B), Vehicle Parts ($9.06B), and Sawn Wood ($7.69B), exporting mostly to United States ($264B), China ($19.3B), United Kingdom ($13.2B), Japan ($9.44B), and Mexico ($5.26B).
Main local online stores
Amazon Canada, Ebay Canada, Walmart Canada, Best Buy Canada, Canadian Tire, Costco Canada, Home Depot Canada, Etsy Canada, Hudson’s Bay, Newegg Canada
‘Mostly free’ (77.7 out of 100) 1st amongst 2 countries in North America 8th worldwide out of 186 countries (2019, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal)
Global Innovation Index
Ranked 2nd out of 2 Northern American countries, 16th out of 132 worldwide.
The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.
Service Imports (2018)
Service Exports (2018)
Most Complex Products by PCI
Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters
Most Specialised Products by RCA Index
Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between Canada observed and expected exports in each product
Export Opportunities by Relatedness
Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that Canada is not specialized in
Preferred payment method for online shopping in Canada from 2014 to 2018
Most popular online stores in Canda in 2018, by e-commerce net sales
French, English, Spanish, Arabic
Canada has a long history of public broadcasting. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was set up in the 1930s in response to the growing influence of American radio. Broadcasting in French and English, CBC’s radio networks carry speech-based and cultural programmes. It operates two national TV channels and TV and radio services for indigenous people in the north. There are hundreds of licensed radio stations in Canada, many of them commercial. There is extensive take-up of multichannel TV. The broadcasting regulator rules that quotas of Canadian material must be carried by TV and radio stations. The media are free to present a wide range of views and opinions. Media freedom “has slipped in ranking due to government transparency issues and controversial antiterrorism legislation”, Reporters Without Borders said in 2019.
The Globe and Mail – Toronto-based national daily
La Presse – Montreal-based daily
Toronto Sun – daily
National Post – daily
Le Journal de Montreal – daily
Vancouver Sun – daily
Montreal Gazette – daily
Maclean’s – weekly news magazine
CBC – public, operates English-language national network
Société Radio-Canada – public, operates national French-language
CTV – major commercial network
TVA – major French-language commercial network
Aboriginal People’s TV Network (APTN) – Winnipeg-based national network, via cable and satellite
CPAC – parliamentary and political channel
CRTC – regulator; its website has information about the main TV groups
CBC – public, operates English-language network Société Radio-Canada – public, operates French-language Ici
Radio-Canada Premiere and Ici Musique
Radio Canada International – CBC external online outlet, in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic
Los 40 Principales – private FM music network
CRTC – regulator; its website has information about the main radio groups
The Canadian Press
Media data source: BBC
96.5% penetration, 36.89 million
Share of web traffic by device
37.18% mobile phones, 57.11% computers (laptops and desktops), 5.66% tablet devices, others 0.05%
Median speed of mobile Internet connection
Median speed of fixed Internet connection
Mobile connection as a percentage of total population: 101.8%
Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G): 99.4%
Most popular web search engines
Google (92.21%), Bing (4.54%), Yahoo (2.03%), DuckduckGo (0.86%), Ecosia (0.13%), MSN(0.08%)
Most used social media
Facebook (45.9%), Pinterest (19.55%), Twitter (18.14%), Instagram (12.81%), YouTube (1.6%), Tumbrl (0.89 %)
Leading sources trusted for news and information in Canada from 2012 to 2018 (share of respondents)
Weekly newspaper reach in Canada as of March 2019, by format
Source: Totum Research News Media Canada
Leading websites in Canada as of January 2020, by average monthly traffic in million visits
Sources: We Are Social; Hootsuite; Digital Report
82.52 years (2020)
11.6% of GDP (2019)
Glass Ceiling Index
65.9 out 100, ranked 11th out of 29 countries.
The glass-ceiling index measures the environment for working women combining data on higher education, labor-force participation, pay, child-care costs, maternity and paternity rights, business-school applications, and representation in senior jobs.
Graduates (tertiary education)
In Canada, in 2018, 62% of 25–34 year-olds had completed a tertiary degree compared to 44% on average across OECD countries.
Change in employment, month over month (in 2020)
|Newfoundland and Labrador||0.3%||-2.6%||-13.4%||5.3%||3.0%|
|Prince Edward Isalnd||0.4%||-2.6%||-11.7%||3.8%||2.4%|
Total number of jobs dependent on U.S. trade with Canada by job
Source: Embassy of Canada
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English and French in Canada
Most spoken languages in every Canadian Province or Territory besides English and/or French
Immigrant languages in the 6 major census metropolitan areas
Size and percentage of population that reported speaking one of the top 12 immigrant languages most often at home in the six largest census metropolitan areas, in 2011
|Toronto: languages spoken most often||Number||Percentage||Montreal: languages spoken most often||Number||Percentage||Vancouver: languages spoken most often||Number||Percentage|
|Other immigrant languages||587,590||32.9||Other immigrant languages||163,215||26.1||Other immigrant languages||105,140||14.8|
|Calgary: languages spoken most often||Number||Percentage||Calgary: languages spoken most often||Number||Percentage||Calgary: languages spoken most often||Number||Percentage|
|Other immigrant languages||58,525||25.6||Other immigrant languages||48,680||29.3||Other immigrant languages||47,395||33.7|
The geographical distribution of languages that you will find in the maps published in this section is a work in progress. Our community is helping us to fill it up with always new and updated data. Your contribution is precious. If you want to help us, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Nick Reynolds, Unsplash