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Canada's Newest Territory


Despite the fact that only thirteen percent of Canadians were aware of its existence, Canada gained a new territory on April 1, 1999. This new territory, called Nunavut, was carved from the eastern part of Canada's Northwest Territories.

Nunavut, which means "our land" in the Inuit language, is the first self-governing indigenous territory in North America. A 19-member legislative council governs this territory. Nunavut covers one-fifth of Canada's land area but at 22,000 people, includes less than one percent of its population. Eighty-five percent of Nunavut's residents are indigenous Inuit.

The new capital city of Iqaluit (Nunavut's largest city with a population of 4,000) lies less than three degrees south of the Arctic Circle. In June it receives twenty-four hours of daylight and in December receives only six hours of daylight. Iqaluit is one of twenty-eight settlements in Nunavut.

The region's primary communications are radiophones that are often unusable due to solar disruption. The new territory is not linked by road to southern Canada and the primary means of transportation to the Canadian core, as well as between villages, is by airplane.

The territorial government consists of approximately 2,200 employees (one-tenth of the total population). The government has the challenge of dealing with low levels of economic activity and high rates of unemployment, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide. The Canadian federal government heavily subsidizes the territory.

Today, Canada is divided into ten, quasi-autonomous provinces and three territories. The ten provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Price Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon Territory are the three territories.

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