Nunavut means “our land” in Inuktitut
Nunavut is the youngest territory of Canada founded on April 1, 1999. Comprising most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, about one fifth of the total landmass of the nation, Nunavut is the size of Western Europe. It includes seven of Canada’s 12 largest islands and 67 percent of the country’s coastline. It is the largest yet least populated of all the provinces and territories in Canada, with a total area of 2,093,190 square kilometres (808,190 square miles) and a population of approximately 33,330 people — 84 percent Inuit.
Nunavut’s terrain is rocky tundra with stunted, but unique vegetation. It is located above the treeline and snow-covered most of the year. Average January temperature is minus 30 ºC and the average July temperature is 15 ºC.
There are four official languages in Nunavut — Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English, and French. Inuinnaqtun is a variant of the Inuit language spoken in the westernmost communities of the territory. Inuktitut is the mother tongue of 70 percent of Nunavummiut (means people of Nunavut), with each region and sometimes community having their own dialect of Inuktitut. English is the first language of 27 percent of the population, French and Inuinnaqtun about one and a half percent each.
Regions and Communities
Nunavut is divided into three regions, from east to west — Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin), Kivalliq and Kitikmeot. There are 25 communities with population ranging from approximately 200 to 7000. Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut and is located in the Qikiqtaaluk region or also known as the Baffin region. The Kivalliq region was once called Keewatin which is the Cree word meaning ‘blizzard of the north’.
There are no roads that connect the communities within Nunavut or to towns to southern Canada. Communities can only be accessed by air and sea but in some cases travel between communities can occur by snowmobile in winter or powerboat in summer. Twenty-four of the 25 communities can be reached by ship. The annual sea-lift brings shipments of large items to communities during the short summer shipping season. The sea-lift usually brings in construction material, non-perishable food, vehicles, fuel and equipment needed by the communities.