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Ontario /ntri.o/ is a Province of Canada located in the east-central part of Canada, the largest by population and second largest, after Quebec, in total area, (Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are larger in area, but they are not provinces.) The province’s largest metropolitan area and Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, is the capital city of Ontario. The national capital of Canada, Ottawa, is located in Ontario as well.
Ontario is bordered by Manitoba on its west, Hudson Bay on its north, and Quebec on its east, and by three states of the United States to its south (from west to east): Minnesota, Michigan, and New York. Ohio and Pennsylvania are across Lake Erie. All but a small portion of Ontario’s 2,700km (1,677mi) border with the United States follow inland waterways: from the west at Lake of the Woods, eastward along the major rivers and lakes of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River drainage system. These are the Rainy River, Lake Superior, the St. Mary’s River, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and along the St. Lawrence River from Kingston, Ontario to the Quebec boundary just east of Cornwall, Ontario.
Ontario is sometimes broken into two regions, Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. The great majority of Ontario’s population and its arable land is located in the south, mostly along the northern lakeshores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. In contrast, the northern three-quarters of Ontario is sparsely populated.
The province is named after Lake Ontario, which is thought to have been derived from Ontar:io, a Huron (Wyandot) word meaning “great lake”, or possibly skanadario which means “beautiful water” in the Iroquoian languages. Ontario contains about 250,000 freshwater lakes.
The province consists of three main geographical regions:
Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are large areas of uplands, particularly within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from northwest to southeast and also above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the south. The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693metres (2,274 ft) above sea level located in Temagami, Northeastern Ontario. In the south, elevations of over 500m (1,640.42ft) are surpassed near Collingwood, above the Blue Mountains in the Dundalk Highlands and in hilltops near the Madawaska River in Renfrew County.
The Carolinian forest zone covers most of the southwestern section, its northern extent is part of the Greater Toronto Area at the western end of Lake Ontario. A well-known geographic feature is Niagara Falls, part of the Niagara Escarpment. The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario occupies roughly 87% of the surface area of the province; conversely Southern Ontario contains 94% of the population.
Point Pelee is a peninsula of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario (near Windsor and Detroit, Michigan) that is the southernmost extent of Canada’s mainland. Pelee Island and Middle Island in Lake Erie extend slightly farther. All are south of 42N slightly farther south than the northern border of California.
Ontario has three main climatic regions. Parts of Southwestern Ontario have a moderate humid continental climate (Kppen climate classification Dfa), similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic States and the Great Lakes portion of the Midwestern United States. The region has warm, humid summers and cold winters. Annual precipitation ranges from 75100 cm (3039 in) and is well distributed throughout the year with a usual summer peak. Most of this region lies in the lee of the Great Lakes making for abundant snow in some areas. Point Pelee and Middle Island, the southernmost parts of the country, are at the dividing line of a humid continental climate and a humid subtropical climate (Dfa/Cfa).
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