• nahanniterritory size reduced by two thirds in April 1999 with the creation of Nunavut
  • has Canada’s longest river
  • territorial capital Yellowknife
  • territorial bird Gyrfalcon
  • territorial tree Tamarack
  • territorial flower Mountain Avens

coanwtThe Northwest Territories is located in north central Canada, above the 60th parallel. It borders Canada’s two other territories; Yukon to the west and Nunavut to the east, and three provinces – British Columbia to the southwest, Alberta to the south, and Saskatchewan to the southeast.

It has an area of 1,171,918 square kilometres and a population of just 41,464 as of the 2006 census, an increase of 11.0% from 2001. Its capital has been Yellowknife since 1967.

Territorial islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago include Banks Island, Borden Island, Prince Patrick Island and parts of Victoria and Melville Islands. The highest point is Mount Nirvana near the border with Yukon at an elevation 2,773 metres (9,098 ft).

The creation of Nunavut was not the first time that the Northwest Territories has undergone dramatic boundary changes. At one point or another during its history, it has included all of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Yukon and most of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Geography – Like Canada’s other northern territories, the Northwest Territories can be divided into two main geographical regions – the boreal forest belt in the south and the Arctic tundra in the north. Geographical features include the vast Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, as well as the immense Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni National Park Reserve.

Lakes and Rivers – Great Bear Lake (31,328 sq km), is the eighth largest lake in the world. Great Slave Lake (28, 568 km2) is the tenth largest lake in the world). The Mackenzie River – Canada’s longest river – flows 4,241 km from Great Slave Lake to the Beaufort Sea.

Climate – Above the Arctic Circle, the Northwest Territories experiences 24 hours of daylight per day in June, and six hours per day in December. The NWT has a subarctic climate. The average temperature in January is around -30°C and in July the average is +15°C.

National Parks of the NWT– The Northwest Territories Canada contains five remote national parks, best accessed by chartered plane, or float plane. Aulavik National Park is located on the northern tip of Banks Island, while Tuktut Nogait Park is located 170 km north of the Arctic Circle. Nahanni National Park is situated in the Mackenzie Mountains, and famous for its whitewater river. Ivvavik National Park protects a portion of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd and represents the Northern Yukon and Mackenzie Delta natural regions.

In 2012 the Canadian government announced the formation and boundaries of the new Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve. Measuring 4,850 square kilometres, Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve adjoins Nahanni National Park Reserve (which was significantly expanded in 2009) and it touches the Yukon boundary to the West. Together, the Nahanni and Nááts’ihch’oh national reserves protect about 86 percent of the entire South Nahanni watershed.

Territorial Parks in the NWT

Birds of the NWT

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