The name "Ontario" comes from the Iroquois word "Kanadario" meaning "sparkling water." The name is fitting: not only is Ontario bordered on the south by the Great Lakes and on the north by Hudson Bay, but 177 390 km2, or one sixth of its terrain, is covered by rivers and lakes. Ontario is larger than Spain and France combined. The province has a landmass of 1,068,580 sq km and is the 2nd largest province in Canada. At its greatest extremity Ontario is 690 km in width. the longest distance north/south is 1,730 km. The highest point, at 693 m above sea level, is in the District of Timiskaming, near Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park.
With over 11 million people, Ontario is the country's most heavily populated province. While English is the official language, Ontario's Francophones play an essential part in the province's cultural life. The provincial government provides services in French in those regions where the Francophone population is sufficiently high.
Ontario is Canada's most productive province, generating some 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Its manufacturing industries lead the way. Ontario's competitive advantages include its natural resources, modern transportation system, large, well-educated labour force, reliable and relatively inexpensive electrical power, and proximity to key U.S. markets: less than a day's drive puts Ontario's products within reach of 120 million American consumers. Automobiles are Ontario's major manufacturing industry and most important export, employing more than 140 000 people. Motor vehicles, parts and accessories accounted for 37% of Canada's total exports in 1998.
*Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003.