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Archived - About Nunavut

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Iqaluit, host venue of the February meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, is the capital of Nunavut, Canada’s largest, newest and most northerly federal territory. Covering one-fifth of the country, Nunavut, which is about the size of Western Europe, stretches through three time zones across the top of North America. Nunavut includes the community of Alert, the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, which is only 817 kilometers (508 miles) from the North Pole.

The mainland portion of the territory is an almost untouched wilderness, where the stark northern tundra changes into cliffs and plateaus along the Northwest Passage. To the north and east, the Arctic Islands are surrounded by pack ice for most of the year and the region extends to the glaciers, jagged mountains and fjords of the eastern shores of Baffin and Ellesmere Islands.

Nunavut, which means “our land” in Inuktitut, the regional Inuit language, was born April 1, 1999, as the new eastern Arctic territory was partitioned off from the old Northwest Territories. It marked the conclusion of more than two decades of efforts on the part of the Inuit people of the eastern and central Arctic to take control of their own lives and destiny.

Under the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Inuit gained control of about 356,000 square kilometers of land (about one-fifth of the territory). The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement also gave Inuit the right to self-government and self-determination.