today, as the 20th century draws to an end, canada is a transcontinental nation whose interests and representatives span the face of the globe and extend into every sphere of human endeavour. but this was not always so. when the four colonies of british north america united to create canada on july 1, 1867, the new country's future was by no means secure. canada was a small country, with unsettled borders, vast empty spaces, and a large powerful neighbour, the united states. five years to the day after the canada–united states free trade agreement was implemented, an expanded free trade area was created with the implementation of the north american free trade agreement (nafta), which includes mexico. the nafta came into effect on january 1, 1994. nafta created the largest free trade area in the world, covering at the time some 360 million people and nearly c$500 billion in yearly trade and investment.