Facebook the most popular Google search in Canada this year, and Sarah Palin topped the list globally as people sought to learn more about the intriguing U.S. vice-presidential candidate from Alaska.

Google has released global and country-by-country results from 2008, showing how the powerful search engine is being used by Web-surfers around the world.

The top five most popular searches in Canada in the past year were Facebook, followed by YouTube, lyrics, weather and games. The list was rounded out by searches for Google, Hotmail, Yahoo, map, and Canada.

The fastest rising searches in Canada were for Barack Obama, Kijiji, Facebook, CNN and YouTube. Those were followed by searches for free movies, Yahoo mail, Koodo, Beijing 2008 and "surf the channel."

"It's fascinating stuff," Andrew Swartz of Google Canada, told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.

"The top searches in Canada overall tended to be social networks, places where people go on the Internet. For people, Obama certainly was our fastest rising search this year and celebrity-wise Britney Spears still topped the list."

When broken down by searches for political parties in Canada, the Green party was first, followed by the Liberals, then the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Quebecois.

Among celebrity searches in Canada, Spears was at the top of the list, followed by Jessica Alba, Heath Ledger, Lindsay Lohan and Angelina Jolie in the top five.

There were some interesting aspects of the new results, Swartz said.

"For me the most surprising thing was seeing in our top rising searches that there was one brand that actually made it onto the list," Swartz said.

"Most (of the fastest rising) were sources of information whereas Koodo the cellphone company made it onto the top rising searches in Canada, which speaks to the effectiveness of their advertising campaign."

The intriguing 1980s-esque ad campaign that called on people to "drop that chubby contract" and "avoid system access fees" clearly had Canadians going online to seek more information about the cell phone service provider.

Social networking sites around the world continued to gain popularity around the world, with more and more people searching them out. Surprisingly, country-specific sites in Poland, Germany and Spain were popular enough to make the global list of top searches.

Swartz predicted that trend will continue in 2009 as the global community becomes more and more connected through social networking sites.

President-elect Barack Obama is also likely to remain high on the most popular list, Swartz said, as the world seeks to learn more about the U.S.-president in waiting.