Canadian Provinces by Population 2023
In the same way that the United States is made up of smaller sub-nations called states, the nation of Canada is made up of ten different provinces and three territories. Whether a given sub-nation is a province or a territory depends upon how its power and authority are derived. Provinces were given their power by the Constitution Act of 1867 and are considered sovereign. If the division of power between the provinces and the federal government of Canada needs to change, a constitutional amendment is required. By comparison, the three territories of Canada are not sovereign and possess only the powers granted to them by the Parliament of Canada.
Canadian provinces have significant control over government programs such as education, health care, and transportation. However, the federal government still shares many governmental responsibilities (again, based on the Constitution Act) and controls much of the funding, which enables it to influence the provincial governments to a notable degree. Each province is represented by both a lieutenant governor, a ceremonial position symbolic of the British crown (Canada is one of many former British Colonies that retain at least symbolic ties to the crown) but that wields no actual political power, as well as a premier who functions as the province's true head of state.
Only three of Canada's ten provinces have populations of fewer than 1 million people. Ontario is the largest, boasting a population of more than 15 million people as of late 2022. The largest city in Ontario is Toronto, which reported a population of 2,794,356 in Canada's 2021 census. Toronto is also the capital of the province.
Quebec is Canada's second-most-populated province, home to just over 8.6 million residents as of late 2022. Major cities located in Quebec include Montreal (the second largest city in the nation) and Quebec City, the capital of Quebec. The province of British Columbia has the third-largest population at more than 5.2 million people. The cities of Vancouver and Victoria (the capital of British Columbia) contribute greatly to this total.
At the other end of the spectrum, Prince Edward Island has the smallest population of any province in Canada—167,680 as of Q3 2022—despite the fact that the island is also the province with the highest population density. Prince Edward Island is also the smallest province by land area, followed by Nova Scotia. Although Prince Edward Island has fewer people than any other province, its population is more than triple that of all three of Canada's vast, yet sparsely populated territories (Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territory) combined.