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Northwest Territories

Aurora Borealis in Yellowknife, NT | Photo: Ken Cheung, Unsplash

Aurora Borealis in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Introduction to Northwest Territories

In 1912, the Parliament of Canada official named the mid-northern part of the country as the Northwest Territories (NT). In 1967, Yellowknife became its capital city.

Geographical features of NT include Great Bear Lake, which is the largest lake in Canada and the eighth largest lake in the world. Issuing from the lake is the Mackenzie River, the longest river system in Canada, with a main stem that is 1,738 km long. The official fish of the Northwest Territories is the Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) which is able to live in the harshest environments.

While Nunavut is mostly Arctic tundra, the Northwest Territories has a slightly warmer climate with boreal forest (although half of the territory is above the tree line).

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NT Trivia

Coat of arms
Flower is Mountain Avens
Bird is Gyrfalcon

Canada's Last Frontier
Land of the Polar Bear
North of Sixty

Territorial slogan

License plate slogans
Canada's Northland (1966-1969)
Centennial (1970)
Explore Canada's Arctic (1986)

CBC North | NWT News

Other resources
Books about Northwest Territories
Destination Canada NT
Explore Northwest Territories
I've Been Bit blog
Stories in the Northwest Territories blog
Northwest Territories Facts for Kids
Northwest Territories Film Commission Facts

NT Facts

Date NT entered confederation

July 15, 1870

Area of NT

1,346,106 sq km (519,734 sq miles)
(Natural Resources Canada, 2001)


The Northwest Territories has two broad geographical regions: the taiga (boreal forest belt that circles the subarctic zone and has pine, aspen, poplar, and birch trees), and the tundra (rocky arctic region where the cold climate has stunted vegetation).

Capital city of NT


Population of NT

41,070 (Statistics Canada, 2021 Census)

Residents are known as


Indigenous people of NT

Dene, Inuit and Mtis

Main NT industries

Mining, tourism, services


There are two main climate zones in the Northwest Territories: subarctic and arctic. In the subarctic zone, temperatures average –23C (–9F) in January and 21C (70F) in July. In the arctic zone, temperatures range from –33C (–27F) in January to 10C (50F) in July.

Time zone

Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) and observes Daylight Savings Time.

NT statutory holidays (in addition to national holidays)

National Aboriginal Day June 21

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