A land of vast distances and rich natural resources, Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 while retaining ties to the British crown. Economically and technologically the nation has developed in parallel with the US, its neighbor to the south across an unfortified border. Its paramount political problem continues to be the relationship of the province of Quebec, with its French-speaking residents and unique culture, to the remainder of the country. As an affluent, high-tech industrial society, Canada today closely resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US. As a result of the close cross-border relationship, the economic sluggishness in the United States in 2001-02 had a negative impact on the Canadian economy. Real growth averaged nearly 3% during 1993-2000, but declined in 2001, with moderate recovery in 2002-03. Unemployment is up, with contraction in the manufacturing and natural resource sectors. Nevertheless, given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant Canada enjoys solid economic prospects. Solid fiscal management has produced a long-term budget surplus which is substantially reducing the national debt, although public debate continues over how to manage the rising cost of the publicly funded healthcare system. Trade accounts for roughly a third of GDP. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with its principal trading partner, the United States, which absorbs more than 85% of Canadian exports. Roughly 90% of the population lives within 160 kilometers of the US border. Save on your Canada Vacation by renting Canada Vacation Rentals by owner. Rent directly from the owner and save. Many owners pass on the savings they receive by renting the property themselves. You can also contact the owners for last minute specials. Spend your savings on your Canada Vacation with a trip to one of the many scenic attractions.