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The Federal Republic of Canada (French: Republique Federal du Canada) is a parliamentary democracy, organized as a federal republic consisting of sixteen provinces and a federal district. Prior to 1991, it was a quasi-independent Republic of the British Union, although after 1945 it operated with almost complete political autonomy within the British Commonwealth, albeit with considerable influence and pressure from London. In 1991, with the collapse of the British Empire, Canada formally withdrew from the Commonwealth and declared itself an independent republic. In 1995, the province of Quebec formally seceded from Canada to form the Republic of Quebec. Quebec's secession led to the 1996 Constitutional Reforms which devolved further authority to the provinces and territories, thus effectively federalizing the country.
Canada is the largest nation by total landmass in the world, only 200 sq mi larger than the Russian Federation. Its largest city is Toronto, and its capital is Ottawa. Since emerging from a recession in the late 1990's, it has been the world's second-fastest growing economy and as of 2011 is the eighth-largest economy in the world.
Canada is an independent, constitutional republic and is a parliamentary democracy. It is regarded as the constitutional successor to the Confederation of Canada and the Canadian government in exile. The Federal Republic of Canada was declared in 1991 following the approval of the 1990 Canadian Constitution. Following the independence of Quebec in 1995, the Parliament of Canada convened a constitutional convention that included representatives of the various provinces and signed a variety of reforms in April of 1996 that devolved further power to the provinces, including self-taxation, the authority to form a Provincial Guard, the ability to popularly elect Provincial Governors, and the establishment of a provincial judicial system. This decentralization of power was seen as likely helping the further devolution of Canada. The 1996 Convention on the Canadian Constitution (3C96) also included reforms allowing for a proportionally represented Senate with equal seats for each province.
The provinces of Canada - British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island - all have popularly-elected "Legislative Assemblies" whose members are called MLAs. Each province also elects an executive known as a Governor who serves the same purpose at the provincial level as the President on the Federal level. The three Territories of Canada - Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut - all have Governors appointed by the Senate of Canada and their Legislative Assemblies have much less home-rule power. Each Legislative Assembly is headed by a Premier, who serves the same purpose within that body as the Prime Minister on the federal level.