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Saskatchewan is one of the prairie provinces of Canada and is situated in the central part of the country, stuck between Alberta and Manitoba. As of July 2012, the population of Saskatchewan was estimated at 1,079,958. Residents primarily live in the southern half of the province. Of the total population, 257,300 live in the province's largest city, Saskatoon, while 210,000 live in the provincial capital, Regina. The province's name is derived from the Saskatchewan River. Earlier, the river was designated kisiskāciwani-sīpiy ("swift flowing river") in the Cree language.
Saskatchewan was first explored by Europeans in 1690 and settled in 1774, having also been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups. It became a province in 1905. Saskatchewan's current premier is Brad Wall and its lieutenant-governor is Vaughn Solomon Schofield. Its major economic activities are agriculture, mining, and energy. In 1992, the federal and provincial governments signed a historic land claim agreement with Saskatchewan First Nations. Under the Agreement, the First Nations received money to buy land on the open market. As a result, about 761,000 acres have been turned into reserve land and many First Nations continue to invest their settlement dollars in urban areas", including Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan has a total area of 651,900 square kilometres and a land area of 592,534 square kilometres, the remainder being water area (covered by lakes, reservoirs and rivers). Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by the pprovince of Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota. Saskatchewan has the distinction of being the only Canadian province for which no borders correspond to physical geographic features (i.e. they are all parallels and meridians). Along with Alberta, Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces that is land-locked.
Saskatchewan contains two major natural regions: the Canadian Shield in the north and the Interior Plains in the south. Northern Saskatchewan is mostly covered by boreal forest except for the Lake Athabasca Sand Dunes, the largest active sand dunes in the world north of 58°, and adjacent to the southern shore of Lake Athabasca. Southern Saskatchewan contains another area with sand dunes known as the "Great Sand Hills" covering over 300 square kilometres. The Cypress Hills, located in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan and Killdeer Badlands (Grasslands National Park), are areas of the province that remained unglaciated during the last glaciation period.
The province's highest point, at 1,468 metres, is located in the Cypress Hills and is the highest geographical point above sea-level between the Rocky Mountains and Quebec. The lowest point is the shore of Lake Athabasca, at 213 metres. The province has 14 major drainage basins made up of various rivers and watersheds draining into the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Saskatchewan lies far from any significant body of water. This fact, combined with its northerly latitude, gives it a warm (but not really hot) summer, corresponding to its humid continental climate in the central and most of the eastern parts of the province, as well as the Cypress Hills; drying off to a semi-arid steppe climate in the southwestern part of the province. The northern parts of Saskatchewan - from about La Ronge northward - have a subarctic climate with a shorter summer season. Summers can get very hot, sometimes above 38 °C during the day, and with humidity decreasing from northeast to southwest. Warm southern winds blow from the plains and intermontane regions of the Western United States during much of July and August, very cool or hot but changeable airmasses often occur during spring and in September. Winters are usually bitterly cold, with frequent artic air descending from the north. With high temperatures between -15 °C and -20 °C for weeks at a time. Warm chinook winds often blow from the west, bringing periods of mild weather. Annual precipitation averages 30 to 45 centimetres across the province, with the bulk of rain falling in June, July, and August. The hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Canada happened in Saskatchewan. The temperature rose to 45 °C in Midale and Yellow Grass. The coldest ever recorded in the province was -56.7 °C in Prince Albert, which is north of Saskatoon.
Saskatchewan is the second most tornado active part of Canada, after Ontario, averaging approximately 12 tornadoes per year, some violent. Like Ontario, severe and non-severe thunderstorm events occur, usually from early spring to late summer. Hail, strong winds and isolated tornadoes are a temporary occurrence.
Regina International Airport (YQR) is around 5 kilometres from the city centre of Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan.
There are flights to/from Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Chicago, Denver, and seasonal flights to Las Vegas, Cancun, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and a few other places. Charter services go to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico.
Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport (YXE) is located about 6 kilometres from the city centre of Saskatoon. It offers roughly the same services as from Regina, plus quite a few flights by smaller aircraft to town in the more northern areas of Canada.
The Trans-Canada Highway (Highway #1) runs across the southern portion of the province (including Regina and Moose Jaw), connecting Saskatchewan to Alberta and Manitoba. Similarly, the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) bisects the central part of the province, running through Saskatoon and North Battleford. There are a number of U.S.-Canada border crossings in the south, on the highways running between the two countries.
Greyhound has buses from Regina to Winnipeg (8 hours) and Calgary (11 hours).
There are flights between Regina and Saskatoon.
The ViaRail train stops in a few places in Saskatchewan, so you can travel between those places by train.
Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:
STC has three daily buses between Regina and Saskatoon.
Only in a few bigger cities you'll find a wide range of options. In smaller towns choice is much less, but usually you will find a Chinese restaurant and the burgers and pizzas.
Drinking age in Saskatchewan is 19. Great Western Brewing operates the old Molson brewhouse in Saskatoon. They produce beers ranging from extra-gravity malt liquor to mid grade amber and pale ales. There is a provincial law basically giving anyone that operates a "brewpub" automatic off sales privileges. Because of this, many bars have started extract-based "brewpubs" in order to acquire their off-sales license. These beers are very poor quality compared to beers made from true ingredients. In small towns, locals prefer cheap beer and rye whiskey. One local favourite is Old Style Pilsner, a no-frills brew with a most unique label. Water quality in Saskatchewan ranges but is generally above average.
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