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The 3 Amazing Canada Territories You Need To Know About

The northern two-fifths of the North American continent are occupied by Canada, the second-largest country in the world by area (behind Russia).

Canada is one of the least populous nations in the world despite its size. Canada territories are three different regions into which Canadian floor is divided. 

Often you will find non- Canadians asking questions like- “Are there any roads in the Canada territories?” “Is it always dark up there?” “Do they live in igloos?” And, trust me, your friends living in the Canada territories are tired of answering these. So, let us start with the basics of the Canada territories.

Canada does not have “states” but rather “provinces,” which are the country’s administrative divisions. So there are 10 provinces in Canada and 3 territories.

What are the Canada Territories?

Everyone knows that Canada has ten provinces and three territories. The names of these Canada territories are –

1. The Northwest Territories.

2. The Yukon.

3. Nunavut.

The main difference between a province and a territory is that a province receives its power and authority from the Constitution Act of 1867. Still, a territorial government has their own power, which is given to them by the Canadian Parliament.

1. The Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories is one of the three federal Canada territories.

1.1 Size and population 

The Northwest Territories might be just a territory in Canada, but they are enormous in the area. It is an absolute behemoth of a land. It covers a land of about 1.3 million square kilometers. It is about four times the size of Germany.

But while the population of Germany is 82 million, The Northwest territories have just 44,000 people living in the entire area.

If 44,000 people were to be equally distributed throughout the Northwest Territories, there would be four people living per 100 square kilometers (unbelievable, right?).

1.2 Origin of The Northwest Territories

The present-day Northwest Territories came under government authority in July 1870 after the Hudson Bay Company transferred Rupert’s Land and their northwestern territory to the British crown; they subsequently transferred the lands to the still young Dominion of Canada.

Between 1925 and 1999, the Northwest Territories covered the land area of 3.4 million square kilometers less large than India.

But on April 1st, 1999, the existing Northwest Territories was split into two parts with the separate Nunavut territory being formed to represent the Inuit people.

1.3 The Northwest Territories has the largest GDP! 

You might expect Alberta or Quebec to be the big money makers of Canada, but trust me, you are so wrong! The Northwest Territories has the largest GDP per capita in Canada at around 84 thousand US dollars. This is almost $20,000 more than Canada’s second-best Alberta as of 2017.

The territory also has the highest median personal income in Canada. But you need to keep in mind that the cost of living in the Northwest Territories is quite high.

So please don’t forget to do the math before you get all excited and decide to move to these Canadian territories.

1.4 Diamond Capital of North America

The Northwest Territories is the world’s third-largest producer of diamonds. Diamond affluent areas weren’t discovered in Canada until the early 1990s, but since then, several mines have been opened, which put Canada on the world map of diamonds.

All of the major and significant diamond mines of Canada are located in this territory. What is neat about these Canadian mines is that they are an instead welcomed alternative to the blood diamonds coming out of Africa.

The workers working in mines are treated well and given their well-deserved wages, unlike the African mines.

These diamonds are also considered purer and of higher quality as compared to the African mines.

In sharp contrast to the mining operations in Africa where diamonds are used to finance conflicts, Canadian diamonds are entirely free of such burdens and furthermore.

Canadian law ensures the preservation of land surrounding the mines.

1.5 The largest city is the capital as well!

The capital and largest city of the Northwest Territories is Yellowknife. It is the largest because it’s the only city in the entire territory. Half of the entire population lives within its boundaries.

Its awkward name comes from a local Dene tribe, once known as the Copper Indians or Yellowknife Indians, who traded tools made from copper deposits near the Arctic coast.

The city began as a mining settlement in 1934 when gold was found in the area, and it continues to be a mining Center even today. Although now it’s not gold but diamonds.

So it’s fitting that in one of the local native languages, the name of the city means where the money is.

1.6 Gateway to Arctic Circle

The Dempster Highway is Canada’s northernmost motorway carrying road-trippers across the Arctic Circle to innovate in the Mackenzie River Delta. If you are someone who loves long lonely drives, then this is the highway for you. This Dempster highway is also known as the Yukon Highway 5.

Dempster Highway begins 40 kilometers east of Dawson City in Yukon, and then it continues to the Northwest Territories for 736 kilometers. There are no highway or significant road intersections along the route, but you will pass through some breathtakingly beautiful areas, national parks, and several mountain ranges.

In the end, you’ll reach the town of Inuvik, which is a small community of 3,000 people living hundreds of kilometers beyond the Arctic Circle.

And now you can go even more if you want. There is a new Highway that will take you to Tuktoyaktuk from Inuvik, which is an Arctic Ocean settlement. This place is famous for pingos, Inuvialuit culture, and people, caribous.

1.7 The harshest weather on the face of Earth

If you travel to the final tip of the Northwest Territories, you will experience what may be the harshest weather on Earth.

The meteorologists say that the ice-bound Queen Elizabeth Island, which was formerly known as Perry islands near the top of the Arctic Archipelago, suffer from a combo of clouds, dampness, wind and unrelenting cold.

That makes this one of the most extreme and least habitable corners of Canada.

The Queen Elizabeth islands contain four glaciers that represent 14% of all glaciers and ice caps in the world.

The average temperature ranges from -35 degrees Celsius in the winter to about three degrees above zero in the middle of July. Despite all these extreme conditions, about 400 people are living on these islands.

These were all the facts of the first of the three Canada territories. Let’s move on to the other area now.

2. The Yukon

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

2.1 Size, population, and temperature

Yukon is the smallest of the three Canada territories. Apart from being the westernmost territory, Yukon also has the smallest population of all the Canada territories. Less than 36,000 people live in 482,000 square kilometers.

The territory was split from the Northwest Territories in 1898 and was named the Yukon Territory after the longest river in the region.

The average winter temperatures here are considered mild by the standards of the Arctic, which means life here is not a bed of roses.

Yukon is the coldest North American place during winters. The temperature dropped down to below -60 degrees Celsius three times in the 20th century. So to say it gets a bit chilly in the winter is a bit understatement.

2.2 The gold rush

During the 1870s and the 1880s, Yukon received its first massive wave of immigrants in its history. It was around this time that gold miners began to arrive.

This lead to a population increase that justified the establishment of a police force just in time for the start of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897.

The increased population coming with the gold rush was what led to the separation of the Yukon districts from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.

2.3 The change of capitals! 

To date, the Yukon Territory is the only region of Canada to have its capital city changed. Dawson City was the capital until 1953.

Then the capital was moved to the larger, more prosperous city of Whitehorse, which today is the only city in the entire territory like Yellowknife of the Northwest Territories.

If you like snowy landscapes, Whitehorse might be perfect for you. It receives snow around in the summer months, which might be very little. It registers snowfall almost all year round. It is a very well preserved historical site.

2.4 Population hasn’t changed much in almost 100 years!

This is unique as well as concerning facts about this place. The Yukon Territory today has roughly the same population as it did in the year 1900.

35,800 people were living here in 2016 and about 31,000 in the 1900s. This makes Yukon Canada’s slowest growing region by a huge margin.

However, these statistics are often considered misleading as there has been a lot of ups and downs in their population figures throughout the ages.

From 1901 to 1909, population changes were enormous as it dropped by 69% down to 8,500. Population density became the lowest of the three Canada territories.

This drop continued till 1940, which led to the population being a mere 5000 living in the entire region. However, after that, it slowly started and now has reached a stable state.

2.5 Home to Canada’s highest peak

Yukon is home to Canada’s highest and North America’s second-highest peak Mount Logan. Standing at 5959 meters, Mount Logan also includes a massif of 11 peaks, which are all over 5,000 meters.

The height of Mount Logan is still now rising as a result of tectonic uplifting. Several teams have managed to climb this peak to date.

2.6 Dawson City

Before the gold rush, Dawson City had only 200-300 people. It saw an enormous growth in the population, and 40,000 people immigrated here overnight during the start of the gold rush.

But when the gold dried out in 1899, it saw the fall in the population again. It is now no longer a city but rather a quiet town with 1,500 people living in it.

2.7 Yukon Quest

Yukon is also home to one of the coolest races in the world- The Yukon Quest. It is one of the biggest as well as the toughest sled dog races in the world. Starting from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, this race trail is 1600 km long.

Because of the harsh winter colds and the tough path, it is considered to be the most difficult dog sled race in the world.

These were all the facts about the second of the three Canada territories. Let’s get to the third one.

3. Nunavut

This is the newest of the Canada territories.

3.1 Date of separation

Photo by Damon On Road on Unsplash

Apart from being the northernmost, Nunavut is also the largest of the three Canada territories. On April 1st, 1999, it was separated from the Northwest Territories.

The residents had been expressing their wish of being a different territory since the 1950s. It took a couple of decades for their wish to come true.

3.2 Size, language and politics

Nunavut has a vast area of almost 2 million square kilometers. It is larger than Mexico and if it were an independent country, it would have been the 13th largest in the entire world.

The natives living in these vast frozen lands do not speak English or French very fluently. They are trying to preserve their traditions and speak in the local Inuktitut tongue.

There is also no political party. There are individual representatives and a council of eleven elders whose job is to incorporate the traditions into the younger generations. Nunavut is different from the other Canadian territories.

3.3 Capital

Iqaluit is the capital city of Nunavut and is also the only city like the other capitals of other Canadian territories. Before becoming the capital in 1999, this place was an unknown frozen settlement.

Photo by Chris Boyer on Unsplash

It is still very isolated and is not connected by railway or roads to the rest of Canada. Ship connections are also very limited as it gets ice-free water only a few months of the year.

3.4 No roads

This myth about the Canada territories is true in the case of Nunavut. There are literally no roads in Nunavut. The only way of transportation to the capital city is by airways.

But even after all these, 7,700 people call the capital city their home. Shops and stalls need to get their entire shipment by planes and that supply needs to last for an entire year. These make the price of goods extremely high.

3.5 Culturally diverse

Apart from English and French being the official languages of Canada, these people speak their native tongue too. So you will find some bilingual, even tri-lingual people here.

Don’t expect that you will be able to read the Inuktitut script even if you are able to speak it. The script is somewhat similar to Latin but quite hard.

But don’t get scared, with a little bit of practice, you will be able to speak it with ease.

3.6 Heating problems

Since most of the region falls above the Arctic line, Nunavut does not have many trees. As a result there is a shortage of wood. It mostly depends on fuels like diesel to run generators and heat homes.

But the fuels also come by planes as a result of which their prices are extremely high.

The local government is trying to limit their uses to renewable energies but depending on their environment, Which is a much need but this is a challenging task.

3.7 Means of transportation

Believe it or not but in Nunavut, transportation by cars or vehicles costs more than airplanes!

Yes due to scarcity of roads or large amounts of ice-covered lands, people mainly use snowmobiles or airplanes for traveling. The cost of building news roads is far more than the cost of using such high-end transport systems!

provinces of Canada, with their capital, area, flag and official languages. 10 provinces and 3 territories are part of Canada. The capital city of Canada is Ottawa.

Province (code)CapitalFlag
Alberta (AB)EdmontonFlag Alberta
British Columbia (BC)VictoriaFlag Colombie Britannique
Prince Edward Island (PE)CharlottetownFlag île du Prince Edouard
Manitoba (MB)WinnipegFlag Manitoba
New Brunswick (NB)FrederictonFlag Nouveau-Brunswick
Nova Scotia (NS)HalifaxFlag Nouvelle-Ecosse
Ontario (ON)TorontoFlag Ontario
Quebec (QC)QuébecFlag Quebec
Saskatchewan (SK)ReginaFlag Saskatchewan
Newfoundland and Labrador (NL)St. John’sFlag Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador


These were all the facts you need to know about the three Canada territories.

According to you, which one of the Canadian territories is worth living in? Let us know!

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Last Updated on by Sanjana


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