How Do Canada's Provincial GDPs Compare with the World?
How do Canada’s provinces stand up on the world economic stage? Can you guess which world economy is the same size as each one of our provinces and territories? They keep telling us that California, for example, is a Top 10 world economy. In fact, it’s number 8 and is the same size as Brazil. So let’s see how big our own provinces really are, starting with the smallest economy all the way to up to Ontario.
It’s the newest. It’s the coldest. And it’s the least developed territory or province, with barely over 32,000 total population. Not surprising for Canada’s and perhaps the world’s most sparsely populated territory or province, which was carved out of the Northwest Territories in 1999. But miners and energy companies are starting to explore for minerals and oil & gas, in what could become Canada’s Alaska. And the country or territory with a similar economy is Lesotho, the mountainous kingdom surrounded by South Africa. It gets cold in Lesotho, but not that cold.
|GDP US$¹||$2.332 billion||$2.150 billion|
|Average Income US$||$58,143²||$3,500³|
|Main Industries||Sending Water and Diamonds to South Africa, Receiving remittances from workers living in South Africa||Sending Water and Diamonds to South Africa, Receiving remittances from workers living in South Africa|
|Summer max/Winter low C°||17 C° / - 40 C°||30 C° / - 15 C°|
¹ Based on 2013 average CAD$ to US$ rate of CAD$1.00 = US$0.95 for Canadian dollar denominated statistics (for each comparison listed below)
² Based on 2013 average weekly earnings for the territory converted to US$ (for each comparison)
³ Salary Explorer using a rate of LSL = US$0.08
It’s almost the coldest province or territory and there are as many bears as government workers. Ok, that’s unfair to territorial employees who are an important part of the local economy. In fact, given its latitude, Yukon is positively balmy, the inhabited part near the BC border that is. There’s even a town or two that is not sub-arctic or arctic or polar, but merely continental in the climate classification scheme. Unfortunately, its doppelganger is Aruba, with a dry tropical climate. In fact, some well-paid Whitehorse government employees are probably familiar with Aruba’s sunny Caribbean charms.
|GDP US$||$2.412 billion||$2.584 billion|
|Average Income US$||$49,844||$48,733¹|
|Main Industries||Government, Hydro, Tourism, Trapping and Fishing, Some Manufacturing, Mining||Government, Hydro, Tourism, Trapping and Fishing, Some Manufacturing, Mining|
|Summer max/Winter low C°||23 C° / - 36 C°||32 C° / 25 C°|
11. Northwest Territories
The grand dame of northern territories, NWT has been around since 1870, with Yellowknife officially proclaimed territorial capital in 1967. It lost its eastern half to Nunavut in 1999, but remains the most populated of the 3 northern territories at a swarming total population level of 43,537 as of 2013. It also has the largest economy of the 3 by far, nearly double each of Nunavut and Yukon’s local economies. Togo is just about the same size economically, but is much smaller geographically. Togo is a slender slice of a country, wedged between Ghana and Benin on the West African coast with Burkina Faso to the north. Oh yes, it’s warmer in Togo.
|GDP US$||$4.191 billion||$4.339 billion|
|Average Income US$||$65,257||$1,051¹|
|Main Industries||Diamond Mining, Oil & Gas||Coffee, Cocoa, Cotton, Phosphate Mining, Textiles, Beverages|
|Summer max/ Winter low C°||24 C° / - 33 C°||42 C° / 23 C°|
10. Prince Edward Island (PEI)
Named after Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III, the unloved king whom the 13 Colonies rebelled against, this tiny island province is full of Kent place names and is where Confederation was cobbled together. Steeped with history and piled-up snowbanks in winter, this charming province has as its economic equivalent another Island, Bermuda. If PEI is all about politics and history, Bermuda has always been about business. Run by the Virginia Company and then the Somers Island Company for 75 years, it was then taken over directly by the British Crown in 1684. St. Georges is the oldest continually established English town in the New World. And if you’re looking to flee taxes and happen to own or run an insurance company, you probably already are located in balmy and beautiful Bermuda, where it’s better to be rich.
|GDP US$||$5.498 billion||$5.573 billion|
|Average Income US$||$37,198||$118,910¹|
|Main Industries||Potatoes, Tourists, Fish, Mining, Manufacturing||Insurance, Re-insurance, Tourism|
|Summer max/ Winter low C°||32 C° / - 23 C°||33 C° / 12 C°|
¹ Average household income divided by average number of workers per household see here
9. New Brunswick
There is a city in Lower Saxony, in Northern Germany, called Braunschweig. The English called it Brunswick, which is much easier to pronounce. And all because a line of Kings and Queens originally come from this city. George I was the first and Queen Elizabeth II is the latest: all descended from the same line of German aristocrats that hail from ye olde small towne of Braunschweig. And that’s why New Brunswick is called New Brunswick. Latvia has the same size economy as New Brunswick, and it too has past ties with Germany: as in goose stepping troops invading the Baltic nation in 1941 to oust invading Soviet troops who returned in 1944 and stayed a while. Both New Brunswick and Latvia are equally wet and cold, but can get hot in summer.
|GDP US$||$30.305 billion||$30.909 billion|
|Average incomes US$||$41,100||$9,616¹|
|Main Industries||Diversified: Healthcare, Retail, Education, Finance, Heavy Industry, Port Facilities, Government, Military||Services, Industry, Agriculture, lots of shipping and storing of oil & gas from Russia.|
|Summer max/ Winter low C°||35 C° / - 35 C°||32 C° / - 33 C°|
¹ Converting to US$ at average 2013 Euro/Dollar rate see here
8. Newfoundland and Labrador
Heck, the King of Portugal in 1506 was taxing the cod fisheries off the coast of Newfoundland (Terra Nova) and it wasn’t until some 77 years later in 1583 that the English Crown took possession. Humphrey Gilbert’s claim meant that it became the first English possession in the New World, but all those teeming fisheries created conflict with Spain and France. The English Crown ended up signing fishing treaties with a number of nations to avoid more open conflict, including with the USA in the 19th century. Newfoundland has had its own government since 1854, and was the last to join Confederation in 1949. In 1927 the British government handed Labrador (named after an early Portuguese explorer, Lavrador) to Newfoundland. This is still a very sensitive issue in Quebec. For many years, it seemed that fishing and welfare cheques were Newfoundland’s main industries, but since offshore oil discoveries several decades ago, the island economy has been booming. And Tourism has increased dramatically. Jordan is about as dry as Newfoundland is wet. And while it is right in the heart of one of the most unstable and violent areas of the world, it is surprisingly prosperous. They have signed free trade deals with other Middle Eastern states, the USA, Canada, Singapore, the EU, and many others. They benefit from Persian Gulf and American investments, as well as offering free trade zones.
|Country/Province||Newfoundland and Labrador||Jordan|
|GDP US$||$34.040 billion||$33.594 billion|
|Average Incomes US$||$54,244||$8,736¹|
|Main Industries||Energy, Resources, Fishing, Tourism||Services, Tourism, Telecom & IT, Transport, Trade, Manufacturing|
|Summer Max/ Winter Low C°||20 C° / - 9 C° and 15 C° / - 30 C°²||36 C° / 13 C°|
¹ Based on average hourly wages of $4.20 and a 40 hour work week. See here.
² Newfoundland has a milder maritime climate while Labrador’s climate varies from subarctic to polar
7. Nova Scotia
The English came in 1621. The French finally left in 1763 after 6 wars, and most of the remaining Acadians were deported. Nova Scotia, like PEI, is drenched in history, much of it hardly peaceful. Nowadays, Canada’s Ocean Playground has not quite caught the wave of economic prosperity that has lifted many Canadian provinces and territories in the last 20 years or so. While it has diversified its economy beyond natural resources and tourism, it has not had the same growth rates as other provinces. Yemen has thousands of years of history, as a trading nation when the north of Europe was living in huts and wearing skins, and then as a conquered and conquering nation that had Jewish and Christian roots before becoming Islamic in the 7th century. Nowadays it is classified as a kleptocracy, with violent revolutions and Islamic terrorists using the country as a base. The Bin Laden family is originally from Yemen. Yemen’s economy is largely based on energy and coffee exports to Asia.
|GDP US$||$37.188 billion||$35.955 billion|
|Average Income US$||$40,508||$2,400¹|
|Main Industries||Pulp & Paper, Fishing, Mining, Forestry, Military, Services||Oil & Gas, Coffee|
|Summer max/Winter low C°||33 C° / - 28 C°||41 C° / 13 C°|
What do the Panama Canal, Winnipeg, and the Russian Revolution have in common? The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, that’s what. When the Panama Canal opened in 1914, the transcontinental rail traffic in Canada slowed dramatically and Winnipeg was suddenly no longer a boomtown. Canada’s then 3rd largest city had a lot of angry prairie farmers and laid off workers who turned to radical leaders inspired by the Bolshevik success in Russia in 1917. The Winnipeg strike was over in a little over a month, with many arrested and leaders deported, and Winnipeg and Manitoba settled into a quieter rhythm of life, unlike Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver which continued to grow. Nowadays, Manitoba is still agricultural with over 10% of Canada’s farmland, but mining, energy, tourism, and services in Winnipeg, which is an important regional centre, round out the economy. Would you believe that Luxembourg has a similar-sized economy? It is 2,586 sq. kilometres in size. Manitoba is 548,360 sq. kilometres in size: that’s more than 1 square kilometre per inhabitant of Luxembourg (population: 524,853 in 2012). Manitoba has about twice the population of Luxembourg: 1.2 million inhabitants.
|GDP US$||$58.257 billion||$60.131 billion|
|Main Industries||Government: (crown corporations, hospitals, universities), Agriculture, Finance & Insurance, Manufacturing||World Financial Centre and Steel|
|Summer Max/ Winter Low C°||40 C° / - 40 C°||28 C° / - 3 C°|
¹ based on a Euro to US$ rate of 1.33 in 2013. See here.
It used to be all about farming, but nowadays the province’s largest single sector of their economy is finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. Next comes mining and oil & gas, followed by healthcare. Agriculture is well below 10% of the local economy. Oman used to head a sultanate that spread all the way to Tanzania in East Africa several centuries ago. Nowadays it’s an absolute monarchy with moderate oil reserves. Tourism is growing, especially in the lush mountainous area of Dhofar in the south. Who would have thought? But do not worry: if you want heat and sand, Oman has plenty of that as well.
|GDP US$||$79.061 billion||$78.183 billion|
|Average income US$||$46,732||$36,528¹|
|Main Industries||Finance, Services, Mining, Oil & Gas, Agriculture, Transportation, Manufacturing||Oil & Gas, Trade, Tourism|
|Summer max/ Winter low C°||40 C° / - 48 C°||48 C° / 12 C°|
¹ Based on average household income. Number of workers per household not available. See here.
4. British Columbia (BC)
If China goes into recession, Vancouver and B.C. could go broke, or get even richer as more wealthy Chinese flee their slumping homeland to plunk themselves and all their cash somewhere in Greater Vancouver or maybe on Vancouver Island. Who knows? But someday China will go into recession, and we’ll all find out. This what happens when a province’s future is so closely tied to Asia and the world’s giant. Ah, to be a giant on the world stage. No, we’re not talking about you B.C. That would be China. But guess which economy is similar in size to Canada’s pacific province? Portugal. A country with as good a claim as any to having discovered Canada. A rugged slice of Mediterranean culture that happens to face the Atlantic instead, and ancestral home to those who first navigated the globe.
|GDP US$||$218.200 billion||$224.912 billion|
|Average income US$||$43,176||$23,245¹|
|Main Industries||Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, Corporate Management, Forestry, Mining, Agriculture, Film and TV Production, Tourism||Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Mining, Manufacturing, Tourism|
|Summer max/ Winter low C°||34 C° / - 24 C° ²||40 C° / 8 C°|
¹ Based on a Euro to US$ rate of 1.33 in 2012. See here.
² Maximum summer temperature for Vancouver. Minimum winter temperature for Prince Rupert
They haven’t caught Quebec quite yet, but Alberta’s economy is getting awful close to what was once Canada’s leader. Becoming the Saudis of North America (sorry Texas) has helped, but Alberta has everything from financial centres in Calgary to film production to tech and agriculture as well. Time will tell if the new NDP government raises taxes and kills off Canada’s hottest economy. And just who is in the next stall at the world economic rodeo, right next to that proud Alberta steer? Denmark. Yes, the smallest Scandinavian country. But Danes are good at business as an old Scandinavian joke goes: the Swedes build it, the Danes sell it, and the Norwegians criticize it. Denmark have very flexible labour laws for a European country, and have built up a diversified industrial base to replace their agricultural economy. Throw in considerable oil & gas reserves in the North Sea and Copenhagen’s role as a transport hub, and you have a prosperous free-trade friendly economy.
|GDP US$||$321.258 billion||$335.878 billion|
|Average Income US$||$54,735||$53,262¹|
|Main Industries||Oil & Gas, Finance, Film & TV production, Agriculture, Mining, Tourism||Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Agriculture, Transport, Tech|
|Summer max/ Winter low C°||34 C° / - 40 C° ²||25 C° / - 2 C°|
¹ Based on 2013 kroner to US dollar rate of 0.134 See here.
² Edmonton climate used as a proxy for Alberta
Montreal used to be THE city of Canada. It has been several generations, however, since it handed that title over to Toronto, and Vancouver and Calgary would love to snatch the title for themselves. But Quebec’s economy has had a resurgence over the last couple of decades after stagnating in the wake of nervousness over Quebec nationalism. Emphasis on high value industries like Pharma and Aerospace as well as Finance and other services have taken the lead from Quebec’s traditional resource industries like forestry, pulp and paper, as well as mining. Tech is a growing part of the economy as well, and tourism has always had an important role. Media and entertainment – mostly but not all French language – is also key. Cirque de Soleil has become an international phenomenon and Montreal’s comedy festival is world famous. Quebec’s economy used to be similar to Greece’s but safe to say that the tragedy in Athens has changed all that. Nope, nowadays it’s South Africa who has a similar economy to that of Quebec. Like Quebec, South Africa has made a great effort to move into higher value industries. Mining and agriculture are tiny parts of the economy while sectors like finance, real estate and business services, manufacturing, tourism, and government have increased in importance.
|GDP US$||$344.704 billion||$347.754|
|Average Incomes US$||$41,100||$25,515¹|
|Main Industries||Pharma, Aerospace, Pulp & Paper, Finance, Media and Entertainment, Mining||Services, Mining and Manufacturing, Agriculture|
|Summer max/ Winter low C°||34 C° / - 35 C° ²||35 C° / - 5 C° ³|
¹ Based on ZAR to US dollar rate of 0.077 See here.
² Based on Quebec City’s climate as a proxy for the province
³ Based on Johannesburg climate as a proxy for South Africa
Yes it would have to be the province that the Rest Of Canada loves to hate. But they are far away the largest with a diversified, if somewhat stagnant, economy that is more about services than manufacturing. And just about everything else from film and movie production to tourism to hydro power to auto manufacturing to tech to nuclear power to steel. And a little agriculture if you like bad wine. And who is Canada’s largest provincial economy similar to? Switzerland. Land of secret bank accounts and pharma and tourism and tennis players. And lots and lots of Swiss Francs. Another place that’s fun to hate.
|GDP US$||$660.920 billion||$685.434 billion|
|Average Incomes US$||$45,448||$66,725¹|
|Main Industries||Manufacturing, Hydro, Film & Media, Tech, Telecommunications, Steel, Agriculture||Pharma, Finance, Tennis|
|Summer max/ Winter low C° ²||40 C° / - 30 C°||30 C° / - 5 C°|
¹ Based on US$ to CHF rate of 0.93 See here.
² Toronto and Zurich were used as proxies and a few degrees were added to Zurich’s maximums and minimums seeing they don’t like to publish record highs and lows. So there.