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Northwest Territories

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Travel Guide North America Canada Northwest Territories

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Introduction

The Northwest Territories is one of the three territories in Canada, the others being Yukon and Nunavut. Although the Northwest Territories have existed since the 19th century, the present-day boundaries were set in 1999 when Nunavut, which till then had accounted for 60% of the Northwest Territories, became a separate territory.

The Northwest Territories has about 40,000-45,000 inhabitants, most of them living in the capital and largest community, Yellowknife.

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Geography

The Northwest Territories comprises a landmass of more than 1.1 million square kilometres and is located in the central northwest of Canada. East is Nunavut, west is Yukon, southwest is the province of British Columbia and south are the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Much of the Northwest Territories is covered in boreal forest, with some Arctic tundra in the far north. The highest mountain is Mount Nirvana, located near the border with Yukon, which has an elevation of 2,773 metres above sea level. Within the Northwest Territories, the main bodies of water include the Mackenzie River and the largest lake located entirely within Canada: Great Bear Lake.

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Regions and Communities

The Northwest Territories consists of 5 regions with each region containing one or more communities. Some of the communities can be called towns, but there are no real cities. The five regions and main places are:

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Sights and Activities

  • Nahanni National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage natural highlight.
  • Great Slave Lake
  • Visit one of the most northern communities in the world, like Inuvik and meet the Inuit people.
  • Activities in winter include ice-fishing and snowmobile tours.
  • Watching moose, bear and caribou in Wood Buffalo National Park.
  • Drive the Dempster Highway from Inuvik north to the Arctic Ocean.
  • Visit the very remote Tuktut Nogait National Park, with even more caribou and other wildife.

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Weather

Like much of the northern half of Canada, the weather here is extreme. The northern part of the Northwest Territories, including the coastline and islands, has a polar climate with very short and relatively cool summers, and long dark winters when temperatures frequently drop below -40 °C, although mostly it's between -20 °C and -30 °C. The southern half has a more subarctic climate with warmer weather, though even here winter lows can drop down to below -40 °C. Summers here are longer and warmer though compared to the north, with temperatures of 30 °C or more possible — though usually it's about 10 degrees cooler. Still, variation is probably one of the most remarkable features of the climate, as summer frost at night and some winter highs above zero are also recorded from time to time.

Precipitation on the whole is low, and comes in the form of snow during the winter months. Heavy thunderstorms during summer in the south are possible though.

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Getting There

By Plane

Yellowknife Airport (YZF) offers most flights, with connections to Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Whitehorse (Yukon) and (seasonal) Vancouver. There are smaller aircraft going to communities in Yukon and Nunavut as well.

Inuvik (Mike Zubko) Airport (YEV) offers some flights as well, including to/from Dawson City (Yukon), Edmonton, Whitehorse and seasonal flights to Fairbanks in Alaska.

Some other connections include Norman Wells to/from Edmonton, Fort Smith to/from Edmonton (with Northwestern Air Lease, Iqaluit (Nunavut) to Yellowknife (First Air and Canadian North, links see below), and Fort Simpson to Whitehorse.

Check airlines like First Air, Canadian North and Air Canada for connections from Whitehorse or Edmonton.

By Train

There are no trains going this far north.

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Getting Around

By Plane

From Yellowknife Airport, there are several airlines offering small aircraft to destinations within the Northwest Territories like Fort Smith, Inuvik and Norman Wells. Some of the northern communities like Inuvik again serve as a hub for even smaller planes going to even smaller communities.

By Car

Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:

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This is version 6. Last edited at 9:24 on Oct 15, 14 by Utrecht. 11 articles link to this page.

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