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Nunavut Description

Nunavut History

The Inuit people have continuously populated the forbiddingly beautiful arctic territory of Nunavut for 4,000 years. Nunavut means "our land" in Inuktitut and is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada. Most historians believe the area was first explored by Norse explorers around 1000 AD, yet written history began in 1576.

martin frobesherWhile in search of the legendary Northwest Passage, English sailor Martin Frobisher found what he thought was gold on Baffin Island. The ore turned out to be worthless, but the incident was significant as Frobisher made the first recorded European contact with the Inuit.

Unfortunately, the encounter was hostile and both sides took prisoners. In the 17th century other explorers including Henry Hudson, William Baffin, and Robert Bylot came upon Nunavut in their unsuccessful attempts to find the Northwest Passage.

1900's Nunavut

Since explorers began stumbling upon Nunavut on their quest for the Northwest Passage, this area has always had a significant geopolitical position. During World War II, Nunavut's Baffin Island became a transit point for materials heading to Europe.

As Cold War tensions grew in the 1950s, a Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line station was built in Nunavut. The DEW Line was a system of radar stations in the

Canadian Arctic set up to warn of Soviet advances.

On July 9, 1993 the boundaries of Nunavut Territory were established. Then on April 1, 1999, Nunavut was officially separated from the Northwest Territories with the passing of the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act.

Nunavut Today

North poleSpread over an area the size of Western Europe, Nunavut has a population of less than 30,000, mostly Inuit. Nunavut is also home to the town of Alert, the northernmost permanent settlement in the world. Just 508 miles from the North Pole, Alert has five permanent inhabitants according to the 2006 census.

Modern Nunavut is not much different from how it was thousands of years ago. Unspoiled landscapes and breathtaking wildlife abound in this land that is one of the last frontiers. The Inuit people tell the same stories of adventures, hunts, and gods that they have been telling for generations. Inuit culture is very much alive here and Inuktitut language is the first language taught in Nunavut schools.

The Arctic Adventure

Located on Baffin Island, the capital city of Iqaluit is the seat of the province's legislature and hosts Inuit ceremonies of dance and drums, and is home to the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum of history and culture. Sylvia Grinnell Territorial Park near Iqaluit is a vast protected reserve, restricted from development or hunting, perfect for wildlife photographer and outdoor sports enthusiasts.

Nunavut is a dream destination for people seeking an outdoor adventure, offering some of the best and most unique hunting experiences on the planet. Grizzly bear, caribou, walrus and even polar bear hunts are available, conducted by traditional methods using dog teams and camping on the ice.

This arctic territory boasts unspoiled land and sea for Canadian vacation activities like hiking, camping, canoeing, and kayaking. From April to July, Nunavut is home to one of nature's most magnificent landscapes the "floe edge." As the sea meets the retreating ice edge, whales swim just feet from shore, walruses and seals haul themselves out of the sea to bask in the sun and massive icebergs slowly float by.

From its unique Inuit culture to its awesome untouched scenery, Nunavut is a true Canadian adventure.


About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 12, 2016.