Its more boisterous neighbour the USA may claim in its anthem to be 'the land of the free' – but to stand in one of Canada's vast national parks, with untamed pine forests, mountains, lakes and snowfields stretching around you as far as the eye can see, is to understand the true meaning of freedom. The largest country in the world after Russia, Canada's also one of the wildest (nearly a third of its land area is covered with forests, and no other country has as many lakes). And it's one of the happiest, as well. Cities like west-coast Vancouver are regularly voted among the most livable in the world, and Canada nudges in right behind the serene Scandinavian nations in Forbes' list of the top most cheerful countries. That's what happens when your country has one bear for every 88 citizens, we guess!
Taste Canadian freedom for yourself with a trip to one of the country's most scenic spots: Vancouver Island, with orcas in its waters and wolves in its woods; Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, teeming with jagged mountains shadowing calm lakes; or the breathtaking Cabot coastal path in snowy Nova Scotia. Explore Canada's trendy urban side as you hole up in the approachable capital Ottawa, stylish francophone Montréal or the big friendly giant that is Toronto, within an ace of the spectacular Niagara Falls. Party like a Canadian in summer and winter alike: Québec City's Winter Carnival, complete with ice palace, is the biggest of its kind in the world, while in July it's time to dig out your chaps and cowboy hat and channel the Wild West pioneer spirit with some yodeling rodeo at the Calgary Stampede. Or enjoy the skiing holiday of a lifetime in the unbeatable Whistler resort, on slopes cruised by champions in the 2010 Winter Olympics.