Located on remote Baffin Island in Nunavut territory, Iqaluit was founded in 1942 as an American airbase and the name means "place of many fish" in Inuktitut.
It has the distinction of being the smallest Canadian capital in terms of population with just over 6000 people as well as the only capital not connected to other settlements by a highway.
A last frontier and gateway to the fabled arctic north, Iqualuit is known for its unique Inuit culture and intrepid people. With very cold long winters and short cool summers, Iqaluit temperatures ranges from a frigid -33C to a comfortable 10C (-27F to 50F). The only city for thousands of miles in any direction, the nearest cities include Quebec City, Montreal, and Halifax all about 2000 miles away to the south.
While one of the most remote cities in the world, this Canadian vacation adventure offers a chance to live at the edge of civilization, experience the warm hospitality of the Nunavut people, and some of the most awesome natural beauty on the planet. Seals, walrus, beluga whale, polar bear, and a variety of sea birds, including eagles and arctic terns, make up the wildlife of this remote North American city.
- It has been rumored that Iqualuit is an emergency landing site for the Space Shuttle, however, according to NASA this is not true.
- Iqaluit is accessible only by plane and, subject to ice conditions, sometimes by boat.
- On February 5th and 6th, Iqaluit was the host city for the 2010 meeting of G7 finance ministers, an economic and political group of the seven largest industrialized nations.
Read on for some great places to visit in Iqaluit, Nunavut:
- Legislative Building of Nunavut
Built between 1998 and 1999, this building in the heart of downtown Iqaluit is an architectural and Inuit cultural gem, as well as the seat of the city council chambers and the Nunavut legislature. This three story glass and steel structure with a two story assembly hall is known for its beautifully colorful interior.
The building houses some of the finest pieces of Inuit art and incorporates traditional Inuit themes, like the shapes of kayaks and sleds. Tours are available year round and this is a must see site for anyone interested in architecture or Inuit culture.
- Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park
From an awesome white vastness in the winter to wildflower covered rolling hills in summertime, Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park offers fantastic views of the unspoiled Canadian arctic landscape. Located just one kilometer from Iqaluit, the park is ideal for hiking, fishing, or just taking in the picturesque scenery while picnicking.
Several species of wildlife can also be found here including caribou, arctic fox, as well as 40 different species of birds. For the Nunavut vacation adventurer, Sylvia Grinnell is filled with outdoor a opportunities for wildlife photography, dog sledding and cross country skiing.
- Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum
The Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum presents great historical perspective on Inuit culture. With a permanent collection of Inuit artifacts, as well as galleries showing off local artists' works, the past and present of this arctic society meet at the museum.
Ancient carvings, clothing, pottery, and tools are all on display here. The museum houses some of the earliest examples of Inuit art and gives unique insight into the birth of Inuit culture. The museum also hosts traditional Inuit music and dancing. Demonstrations and competitions in native Throat Singing and Drum Dancers can be seen frequently throughout the year.