Nunavut became the third Canadian territory in 1999, distinguishing it from the nation's ten provinces. Despite the size of Nunavut-- it has 1/5 of Canada's land mass--the total population as of April 2009 is only 32,000 people. Comprised of a mainland and a plentiful amount of islands in the Arctic Ocean, Nunavut is notable for the challenges its climate provides and its 28 small communities with limited resources.
The capital of Nuavut is Iqualuit. Nunavut is a phrase in the language Inktitut that translates to “our land.” The official motto is “Nunavut, our strength.” Nunavut is home to Baker Lake, the geographic center of Canada nicknamed “the belly button of Canada.” The area was an airbase in the 1940s.
Though there is a small tourist industry, Nunavut's economy is largely based on its natural resources. There is a diamond-mining industry, but most of the economy is produced through hunting, fishing, trapping and sealing. Because of this, unemployment is high and more than 90 percent of the territory's budget comes from the Canadian government.
Some of the most interesting facts about Nunavut involve the climate and resulting seasonal effects. Winter in Nunavut begins in September, and residents see snow until June, with arctic blizzards a common occurrence. The spring season is March until June with the sun shinning around 18 hours a day. July and August are considered to be the summer season. Come June, Iqaluit, the territorial capital of Nunavut, gets 24 hours of sunlight every day and an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. In December, however, the capital gets only six hours of daylight each day and has an average temperature of -30 degrees Celsius.
In the northernmost region, Grise Fiord experiences daylight 24 hours a day for four months and has another four months of darkness. Land is covered with sheets of ice, and water is frozen for the majority of the calendar year, making it impossible to distinguish land from water. Icebergs are known to detach from glaciers and fall into the water. This encourages activities like ice-fishing and dog sledding.
Within Nunavut, the towns are all sparsely populated and few and far between, as are roads.There are no paved roads, and snowmobiles are common in winter, as are boats in the summer. Each community also has its own harbor and airport to accommodate the goods that must be flown in, making grocery costs high. The mail system is unusual, because all mail has to be flown into individual communities, and residents have to retrieve letters and packages at the post office. There is only one hospital, in Iqualuit, but 26 health stations throughout the territory.