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The Place

The Northwest Territories is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and there is no greater haven for those looking to connect with nature.

The diverse landscape ranges from towering mountains and rolling tundra to seacoasts and boreal forests.

The Northwest Territories’ treasures include several of Canada's greatest rivers, lakes and National Parks. Rare wildlife roam free, and millions of birds migrate through the Mackenzie Valley. Aboriginal tradition thrives in communities built on a rich fur-trade, exploration and mining heritage. Small and widely scattered, they're linked by roads, rivers and bush airlines that converge in our bustling capital, Yellowknife.

Northwest Territories Treasures:

  • In the summer, the Northwest Territories is truly the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun comes up in May and doesn’t set until the third week in July.
  • The Mackenzie River is the longest river system in Canada and is 2,635 miles (4,241 km) in length.
  • The Mackenzie River Delta is the largest delta in Canada and the second largest Delta in North America after the Mississippi River Delta. It is 130 miles (210 km) long, 38 miles wide (62 km) and covers an area of 5,0192 miles (13,000 square km).
  • Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada’s largest national park and one of the largest in the world.
  • Nahanni National Park was established in 1978 and was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada.
  • Virginia Falls in the Nahanni National Park is almost twice the height of Niagara Falls at 300 feet (92 metres) and is the highest and most dramatic cataract in all of Western Canada.
  • The Northwest Territories contains nine per cent of the world's freshwater resources (163,021sq km/1,346,106 sq km of freshwater).
  • The Auroral Oval is a giant ribbon of energy 124 miles (200 km) in diameter and 124 to 186 miles (200 to 300 km) high. It encircles the magnetic north pole and creates a corona of light known as the Aurora Borealis.
  • Yellowknife, the DIAMOND CAPITAL OF NORTH AMERICA™, sits directly under the Auroral Oval and is the best place to view the lights between September and April.

Quick Facts

Location | Area | Time Zone | Capital City | Population | Weather | Hours of Daylight
Official Languages | Government

Beginning at the 60th Parallel, the Northwest Territories stretch north from the BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan borders all the way to the Arctic Ocean and the High Arctic Islands. East to west, this giant land sweeps from the Nunavut boundary along the treeline to the Mackenzie Mountains and the Yukon border. Many communities are accessible via vehicle (through roadways, ferry crossings and ice roads) and plane.

1,346,106 sq km (841,316 sq mi). The Northwest Territories is the second largest Canadian Territory — approximately the size of Texas or Saskatchewan and Alberta combined.

Time Zone
Mountain Standard

Capital City

About 40,000 people, living in 33 communities. Over half of the population in the NWT are Aboriginal. The population in the capital city, Yellowknife, is approximately 20,000 and it continues to grow.

The NWT has a relatively dry, cold climate, with long winters and warm, brief summers drenched in sunlight. Temperatures can range from highs of 35ºC in summer to minus 45ºC in winter.

Hours of Daylight
Hours of sunlight and darkness vary widely with the seasons, becoming more extreme as you travel north. In addition to the stated hours of sunlight, all locations experience additional periods of daylight prior to sunrise and sunset; to the extent that around the Yellowknife area, in June and July, it is light enough to fish all night!

Typical hours of daylight for selected NWT communities:


June 21st
Summer Solstice

December 21st
Winter Solstice

Fort Smith
Norman Wells
The Arctic Circle & all points north



Official Languages
Chipewyan, Cree, Dogrib, Gwich'in, Inuktitut (Inuvialuktun and Inuinnaqtun), North and South Slavey, French, and English. Official languages Map of the Northwest Territories download


The Northwest Territories and Nunavut are the only two jurisdictions in Canada that use consensus government. There are no political parties. The Northwest Territories is governed by a fully elected Legislative Assembly of 19 members who are elected for a four-year term. The legislature elects the Premier and a six-member cabinet which is responsible for the operation of the government and the establishment of programs and spending priorities.

Premier: Honourable Bob McLeod
Federal electoral riding: Western Arctic
Member of Parliament: Michael McLeod (LIB)