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Nunavut is the largest and most northern territory in all of Canada. The region is mainly inhabited by its native people called the Inuit. Much of the land is harsh wilderness with a variety of arctic life. The territory has 25 communities, Grise Fiord is the most northern community, and Iqaluit is the most populated area and capital. Much of the economy focuses on hunting, fur trade, and fishing, but the territory is well known for its arts and crafts. There are five national parks in Nunavut. The most popular is Auyuittuq National Park. In this and other parks in the territory, there are glaciers, wildlife, and varying rock types and formations. Many festivals are held in the territory's various towns and cities throughout the year. The Inuit people have lived in Nunavut for centuries, and historic sites of their people and ancestors can be found within the region.
Nunavut is populated mainly by its indigenous people the Inuit. The Inuit people are one of the largest communities of indigenous people in North America. As of the census in 2016, approximately 37,082 Inuit people live in the area, most living in the capital of Iqaluit. Roughly 84 percent of the population is Inuit. Typically the average age of people in the area was 25 years old, younger than any other area in Canada. The majority of the population speaks their native language, which has two dialects; Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun. English and French also have a presence in the territory, though English is more common. The name Nunavut means "Our Land" in the language of Inuktitut, and the territories motto is "Nunavut Sanginivut," meaning "Our Land Our Strength."
Many tourists come for the natural aspects of the region. There are many places to go hiking, kayaking, camping, boating, and fishing in the area. Many communities have places to go ice skating and play hockey, soccer, and volleyball. These are popular sports among the residents of Nunavut. Many of the communities host festivals throughout the year and cultural celebrations with each new season. Nunavut is known for its arts and crafts, especially for its carvings. Other industries in the region include mining, hunting, trapping, and fishing. Hunting is one of the top industries in the area. Many residents live in permanent homes, often townhouses or apartments, but some choose to live in large canvas tents in the area during the summer. There are twenty-five communities spread out around the territory reaching as far north as Ellesmere Island, the northernmost island of the territory. No roads connect the communities, and so most travel is done by plane.
There are five national parks in Nunavut, namely, Auyuittuq, Sirmilik, Quttinirpaaq, Qausuittuq, and Ukkusiksalik. Auyuittuq National Park is the most popular and located the furthest south of the national parks. It is most notable for Mount Thor, which has one of the largest single vertical drops in the world at 4,101 feet. A popular hike for those more experienced is the Akshayuk Pass or the Ulu Peak Trial. Sirmilik is also another popular park with large glaciers and ancient Thule and European cultural sites. Another attraction is the Artic Wildlife Safari at Auyuittuq National Park.
Nunavutaslo attracts people to the various festivals it hosts. The Toonik Tyme Festival is a festival to celebrate spring in the capital, Iqaluit, with dog sleds and snowmobile races. There is a crafts fair and competitions for seal skinning and igloo building. Additionally, an arts festival is hosted that lasts almost a month between June to July. Each community chooses artists to represent them and hold competitions in the capital.
Nunavut is the largest territory in Canada and is the fifth largest administrative division in the world. The territory is the most northern of the regions in Canada. Surrounding Nunavut in the south is Hudson Bay and the Lowlands, along with Manitoba. To the west is the northwest territories and to the east is Quebec. Nunavut has a total area of 2,093,190 square kilometers. The majority of the mainland is part of the Canadian Shield, large groups of ice and rock. The interior land is primarily barren with hardly any forested areas and is more lively along the coastal regions.
There are three geographical regions in Nunavut. The Hudson Bay Lowlands, the Canadian Shield, and the Arctic Lands. These areas are called the Kivalliq Region, the Kitikmeot Region, and the Qikiqtaaluk Region by the locals. In the Hudson Bay Lowlands, the terrain is relatively flat, dotted by many lakes and rivers, with foliage being very low to the ground and sparsely dotted with trees. Most of this land is classified as tundra. Wildlife varies depending on the area of Nunavut, but common animals hunted by the Inuit people are polar bears, caribou, walruses, and seals.
Communities in Nunavut do not connect, vast areas of harsh terrain separate them. Within the communities, almost no roads are paved, even in the capital. The typical form of transportation is by plane, but it can also be done by boat. Due to weather, travel by boat is only in the summer, and travel by plane can be problematic in the winter, with flights being delayed due to freezing temperatures and harsh weather.
The climate in Nunavut varies depending on the month but is generally colder. The hottest month is July averaging 46 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer with occasional highs above the fifties. The coldest month is January, with the average temperature being -18 degrees Fahrenheit with a low of -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures are often colder the more north in the territory, with the Kitikmeot being the hottest region of the territory and Qikiqtaaluk being the coldest. Spring temperatures are typically the same regardless of the area averaging around 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the year, there are times when regions may go without sun for months and other times where the sun does not set. From the town of Resolute and above, the communities receive constant sun from April to August. In the southern communities, they may only experience this for a month to a week. At Grise Fiord, the most northern community, residents may not see the sun for two to three months, from November to February. Nunavut recommends having warmer clothing and good shoes as there is often snow and no sidewalks making the ground uneven in most places.
The official animal for the territory is the Canadian Inuit dog. One of the oldest pure breeds has been a constant companion of the Inuit people and their ancestors. The official bird is the rock ptarmigan. It is one of the only birds living in the region year-round. Animals and plants found in the area include muskox, polar bears, arctic fox, arctic hare, grey wolf, brown bear, walrus, narwhal, snowy owl, and more. The official flower of Nunavut is the purple saxifrage. Artic bell-heather, bulrush sedge, Alaska willow, white spruce, green alder, and white bog orchid are just a few of the common plants that can be found in the territory.
The Inuit people are the natives of Northern Canada. Their ancestors were the Thule people around 1000 BCE. The settlement of Nunavut dates back as far as 4000 BCE when hunting parties and other people followed migratory herds of caribou, muskox, and other animals populating the area. These people were the ancestors of the Thule and did not have permanent housing. Much of their time was spent hunting and fishing. Their descendants, the Thule, had more advanced tools, made kayaks, and hunted animals such as narwhals and polar bears, and other large mammals. They often lived in larger, more permanent communities. Many of the homes were made from whale bones, stone, and sod. There was less need for constant hunting and more time to develop tools and culture. They left behind many carvings and other crafts. Their descendants are the present-day Inuit, who continue to create tools and live a similar lifestyle. However, they have become more migratory as well, having semi-permanent housing changing by the season. The Inuit live on the ice in the winter hunting seals and on land hunting caribou and muskox in the summer.
First contact with the Thule people was the Norse people who explored some of northeastern Canada around 1000 AD. It is predicted that there may have been trading and other small interactions among the two communities in the area. It wasn't until the 16th century that more Europeans would come, looking for routes to Asia. In later years, Henry Hudson explored the area around 1610. Hudson Bay was named after him. By the late 1600s, the Hudson Bay Company controlled most of the land and exploration in northern Canada. Focused on the fur trade, they predominantly interacted with Inuit people in the south, interacting with little of the inhabitants in the Nunavut Region. In the late 1700s, Samuel Hearne and other Europeans finally began to explore the northern areas in Nunavut and began to have more interactions with the Inuit people. The British navy began sending ships and new naval recruits in the early 1800s to train for the British navy and explore more islands in northern Nunavut.
Life changed for the Inuit people in the late 18th century as whalers, fur traders, as missionaries began to settle and arrive in the territory. Fur traders and whalers would hire Inuit families in the area, creating jobs for Inuit people. The whaling industry over-harvested and moved to other mammals on the coastal and inland regions hurting many of the herds and groups of animals the Inuit subsisted on in their daily lives. The Inuit people began to trade more with Europeans; receiving canned food, new technologies, and equipment that began to change the habits of the native's lifestyle. Missionaries from both Catholic and Protestant religions began to establish churches in the area. Inuit people started to establish more permanent communities as companies and industries settled in the area, providing jobs and developing the economy. On April 1st of 1999, Nunavut became an official territory of Canada. It had initially been part of the northwest territories.
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