Nunavut

Overview

Introduction

Imagine a strip of coastline with offshore islands the size of California and an interior dotted with lakes that don't even have names. Nunavut, one of Canada's three territories, is a fledgling tourist destination. It has a smattering of towns with not a single traffic light among them, and in many places the wildlife outnumber the people.

Nunavut is an Inuit word that means "our land." The territory was born out of the Northwest Territories in 1999 after the Inuit, a Native American tribe that has inhabited Canada's far north for centuries, successfully fought to win the world's largest land claim. Now in control of their homeland, the Inuit have established a territorial government in the capital Iqaluit, built new schools and roads and gained control of the region's vast natural resources. The Inuit have a relaxed relationship with other Canadians. In Nunavut, ethnic differences take a backseat to more practical concerns such as the health of the seal population and the bitterly cold climate.

The Canadian Arctic is one of the most sparsely populated regions in the world, and it supports an abundance of healthy wildlife. Caribou, musk ox, seals, whales, polar bears and a multitude of birds make Nunavut an alluring destination for hunters and nature enthusiasts. It's not a place for the casual tourist, however. Nunavut's extreme climate, inevitable transportation delays and high expenses limit the territory to only well-prepared travelers. Most visitors make use of Inuit-guided expeditions. Those who do make the trip are rewarded with extraordinary experiences in an untouched land.

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