Flag and map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Area north of 60 latitude
30% of its total area (9 976 140 sq. km.)

Ethnic Mix:
Mostly European in origin (87%); aboriginal peoples 1.5%; sizable minorities of people from many countries.

Principal industries:
Processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, transportation equipment, chemicals, fish products, petroleum, natural gas. Large forest resources cover 35% of total land area.

Currency: dollar ($ or $Can) = 100 cents

Aboriginal peoples: In addition to English and French, six aboriginal languages have been considered official in the Northwest Territories since 1990- Dogrib, Chipewyan, Gwich’in, Cree, Slavey and Inuktitut.

Did you know?
In 1999, a new territory called Nunuvut (“our land” in Inuktitut) was created in the eastern part of the Canadian Arctic encompassing much of the land formerly known as the Northwest Territories as well as the Arctic archipelago. The majority of people in Nunuvut are Inuit and they have elected a solely Inuit legislative assembly to manage all aspects of life in the new territory including education, social services, health and wildlife management. Iqaluit, at the eastern end of Baffin Island, is the capital of this new territory.

Learn more:

Canadian Global Almanac 2003
The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)


In many parts of the Arctic far above the treeline, driftwood is found and used in a host of different ways. It has long been used for building material, for making boats, sleds and weapons as well as for fuel. The journey of the wood out of an inland forest, down a river, across an ocean and on to beaches where it is collected and used or rots and degrades to new life is a fascinating demonstration of Arctic connections.

Studies and evidence from ships caught in ice helped confirm the existence of the Transpolar Drift – currents that flow from Alaska and eastern Russia across the Arctic to Fram Strait in the North Atlantic. Although the Transpolar Drift carries ice from both the Beaufort and Kara Seas, the two branches remain distinct, with driftwood from North America reaching Greenland but not Iceland, and wood from Russia remaining on the eastern side, and reaching Svalbard and Iceland.

Large rivers take driftwood north from the boreal forests they traverse. The Yukon and Mackenzie Rivers in Canada bring primarily spruce and poplar picked up from trees along naturally eroding riverbanks.

In Russia, however, logging operations lose at least four percent of their annual volume during river transport. Driftwood in Russia therefore includes pine, larch, spruce, birch and poplar.

Sea ice is essential to the spread of driftwood. Logs in the open ocean will sink after 10-20 months but when they are trapped by sea ice, they will remain afloat until after the ice melts, allowing them to make a multi-year journey across the Arctic Basin.

Arctic Flora and Fauna: Status and Conservation. The Program for the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Helsinki: Edita, 2002