As a relatively young nation, Canada is certainly still learning from its elders, but that doesn't mean the country hasn't figured out a thing or two about how to live well. Known globally as a polite, apologetic people, Canadians shouldn't be perceived as meek -- in fact, quite the opposite. Their strong values and wide borders encompass a population that is willing to stand up for what it believes in.
stevanovicigor via Getty Images
It might be an international (and national) joke that Canadians apologize for absolutely everything, but there's a value to be learned from people who aren't afraid to take the blame when it's warranted, or who just want normal life to progress easily. Studies have shown that Canadians use the word "sorry" as a way to "have smooth, norm-abiding, harmonious interactions," according to psychologist Karina Schumann
SHSPhotography via Getty Images
With a growing population, Canadians need reassurance that they'll have support as they start their own families, and they can find that directly from their own government. Canada's parental leave policy is one of the best in the world, offering 52 weeks of leave (17 weeks for mothers, and 35 for the parents to split if they'd prefer) for eligible parents of newborn or adopted children. Parents receive 55 per cent of average weekly earnings, to a maximum of $48,600 as of January 1, 2014. Jobs are also protected by this policy, ensuring parents have the same role to return to when and if they decide to go back to work.
Bryan Bedder via Getty Images
All those American comedians you love so much? They're really Canadian, or at the very least, have learned from a Canadian. Famous funny exports include Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels (and former cast members Mike Myers, Phil Hartman, Martin Short and Dan Akroyd), comedian Jim Carrey, and stars Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and Will Arnett. Even the Barenaked Ladies infuse a healthy dose of jokes into their songs.
What is it about Canada that creates a hotbed of hilarity? Not taking themselves too seriously is likely the key, as is a combination of the handed-down British self-deprecation coupled with a proximity-learned American sense of showmanship.
For all of Canada's politeness, it isn't afraid to make waves. As the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage (in 2005), Canada has staunchly supported the rights of two people in love to be wed, regardless of gender. Those rights extend to social and tax benefits, such as income tax deductions, Criminal Code charges and old age security.
In Canada's largest cities, gay pride celebrations make up some of the biggest parties of the year. Every major city in the country holds an annual parade
, with Toronto having hosted WorldPride in 2014. A large number of politicians, regardless of party, take part in the festivities, as do citizens of every sexual orientation and culture.
By the same token, Canadians hold up their differences proudly, never attempting to blend into the crowd. As a country of immigrants, with almost 200 countries represented in populations
across the nation, it's easy to find smaller versions of countries from around the world in Canada's cities and towns.
These cultures are honoured and celebrated in festivals throughout the year (and attended by people from all backgrounds), as well as shown symbolically everywhere from street signs to advertisements written in non-official languages.
Radius Images via Getty Images
The sweeping landscape of Canada can't help but be impressive, and showcase how one country truly can have it all when it comes to nature. Dramatic mountain ranges, traditional Aboriginal communities, surf-friendly beaches, ultra-modern cities, remote fishing villages — the size of Canada means it encompasses every lifestyle imaginable, set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty. It's tough to compete with 9,984,670 km².
Kevin Winter via Getty Images
Canada is home to dozens of movie shoots per year, drawing in American studios with tax breaks and lookalike locations. It's also the birthplace of globally massive musicians like Arcade Fire and Drake. That means there are tons of A-list celebrities roaming the streets of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver at any given time — but you wouldn't know it from hanging around their homes or hotel lobbies. Aside from the Toronto International Film Festival, paparazzi is at a minimum in Canada, and stars like Rachel McAdams can actually live normal lives without worrying too much about the public's intrusion into their lives.
ErikaMitchell via Getty Images
With two official languages (English and French), Canadians are well-versed in bilingualism, with the majority having received education in the language of minority for their province or territory in school. Add to that the multicultural aspect of most cities and towns, and you have a population that's primed for speaking multiple languages in the community and at home, which has benefits for intelligence, as well as health
Allan Kosmajac via Getty Images
There's a reason why Canadian flags are easy to find displayed on backpacks and luggage around the world — Canadians love to travel, whether it's to their southern neighbour of the United States or overseas (the United Kingdom is the fourth most popular destination
). No matter where they're headed, Canadians love to learn more about the rest of world, which in turn gives its citizens a larger perspective on everything from global conflicts to international cuisines.
Lonely Planet via Getty Images
If life hands you a country filled with snowy drifts and pouring rain as well as the occasional sunny day, make underground tunnels that allow you to move freely without being impeded by freezing temperatures. Shopping centres, office buildings and university campuses throughout Canada boast extensive underground cities that let citizens walk to and from home and work, allowing for an option outside of cars and shivering wildly throughout the winter.