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(In Detail) (In Detail)
Motto: Nunavut Sanginivut (Nunavut our strength / Our land our strength)
Official LanguageEnglish, French, Inuktitut, and Inuinnaqtun

 - Total
 - % fresh water
1st largest
(1st lgst terr.)

2 093 190 km²
 - Total (2001)
 - Density
Ranked 13th
28 200
Admittance into Confederation
 - Date
 - Order
Split off
from NWT

Time zones UTC -4,-5,-6,-7
*Southampton Island does not observe DST
Postal information
Postal abbreviation
Postal code prefix
NU (was temporarily NT)
ISO 3166-2CA-NU

 House seats
 Senate seats

PremierPaul Okalik
CommissionerPeter T. Irniq
Government of Nunavut
for the electoral district of the same name see Nunavut (electoral district)

Nunavut is the largest and newest of the territories of Canada: it was separated officially from the vast Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999 via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries were established in 1993.

The capital of Nunavut is Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay) on Baffin Island in the east. Other major communities include Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island in the north and the east of Victoria Island in the west. Nunavut is both the least populated and the largest of the provinces and territorities of Canada. It has a population of only about 28,000 (Nunavumiut, sg. Nunavumiuq) spread over an area the size of Western Europe. If Nunavut were a sovereign nation, it would be the least densely populated in the world: nearby Greenland, for example, has almost the same area and twice the population.

Nunavut means our land in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit.

Table of contents
1 History
2 People
3 Geography
4 Economy
5 Government
6 See also
7 External links


The region now known as Nunavut has supported a continuous population for approximately 4000 years. Most historians also identify the coast of Baffin Island with the Helluland described in Norse sagas, so it is possible that the inhabitants of the region had occasional contact with Norse sailors. For more information on the earliest inhabitants and explorers of Nunavut, see Paleoeskimo, Neoeskimo and Helluland.

The recorded history of Nunavut began in 1576. Martin Frobisher, while leading an expedition to find the Northwest Passage, thought he had discovered gold ore in what is now known as Frobisher Bay on the coast of Baffin Island. The ore turned out to be worthless, but Frobisher made the first recorded European contact with the Inuit. The contact was hostile, with Frobisher capturing four Inuit people and bringing them back to England, where they quickly perished.

Other explorers in search of the elusive Northwest Passage followed in the 17th century, including Henry Hudson, William Baffin and Robert Bylot.

(and there were quite a few more after that. More needs to be said about various explorers and colonial history in Nunavut. But for now, let's make a jump into recent history)

In 1976, negotiations for a land claim agreement and the new territory between the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada and the federal government began. In April 1982, a majority of Northwest Territories residents voted in favour of a division, and the federal government gave a conditional agreement seven months later. A land claims agreement was reached in September, 1992 and ratified by nearly 85% of the voters in Nunavut. In June 1993 the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act were passed by the Canadian Parliament, and the transition was completed on April 1, 1999.


As of 2004, Nunavut has a population of approximately 28,000, of whom around 85% are native peoples, primarily Inuit.


The territory covers approximately 1.9 million square kilometers of land and water including part of the mainland, most of the Arctic Islands, and all of the islands in Hudson Bay, James Bay, and Ungava Bay (including the Belcher Islands) which were formerly attached to the Northwest Territories.

The creation of Nunavut created Canada's only "four corners," at the intersection of the boundaries of Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, at 60°00' north, 102°00' west, on the southern shore of Kasba Lake. This is not the tourist spot it might be, as it is extremely remote and inaccessible, although there is a marker (albeit an out of date one) at the point, and some have made the trek.

Regions of Nunavut

Some Canadians believe that Nunavut is made up of some of the former regions of the NWT, separated in their entirety. This is not the case; the dividing line did not follow region boundaries, although boundaries have been subsequently finessed so that three former NWT regions collectively constitute Nunavut. They serve as census divisions, but have no autonomous governments:

The former Baffin region (the high Arctic Islands) was entirely transferred to Nunavut. The former Kitikmeot region is mostly in Nunavut, except two southwestern areas. Likewise, the former Keewatin region is largely in Nunavut, except a southwestern rectangle.

Fort Smith region and Inuvik region remain census divisions of the Northwest Territories. A small right triangle of the former Fort Smith region is in Nunavut now, while none of the Inuvik region was transferred to Nunavut.

The aforementioned regional divisions are distinct from the district system of dividing the Northwest Territories that dated to 1876 and was abolished when Nunavut was created. Nunavut encompasses the entirety of the District of Keewatin (which had differing boundaries from the Keewatin region), the majority of the District of Franklin and a small portion of the District of Mackenzie.

See List of communities in Nunavut.



Nunavut's head of state is a Commissioner appointed by the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. As in the other territories, the commissioner's role is symbolic and is analogous to that of a lieutenant-governor. While the Commissioner is not formally a representative of the Queen of Canada the role of representing the crown has accrued to the position. The head of government is the premier. The members of the unicameral legislative assembly are elected individually; there are no parties and the legislature is consensus-based.

The territory's first parliament was dissolved on January 16, 2004, with elections scheduled for February 16. See Nunavut general election, 2004.

See also

External links

Provinces and territories of Canada
Provinces: British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario | Quebec | New Brunswick | Prince Edward Island | Nova Scotia | Newfoundland and Labrador
Territories: Yukon | Northwest Territories | Nunavut