Nunavut, a territory of Canada created in 1999 from lands formerly part of the Northwest Territories. It has a total area of 769,684 square miles (1,993,472 km 2), nearly all of which lies north of the timberline. Islands make up 55 percent of Nunavut's total area. The territory is snow-covered for most of the year. Rocky tundra, with only stunted vegetation, predominates. The territory comprises about a fifth of Canada's total area and contains seven of its 12 largest islands and two-thirds of its coastline. The larger islands, such as Ellesmere, Axel Heiberg, Devon, and Baffin, are partly mountainous and are ice-capped. Mountains in this area rise to elevations of 6,000 to 8,000 feet (1,800 to 2,400 m).Nunavut's provincial flower is the purple saxifrage.
There are few roads. Many communities are accessible from outside the territory only by air or, in summer months, by boat. Nunavut's population in 2001 was 26,745. Most of the people are Inuit. Iqaluit, the capital, had a population of 5,236 in 2001. For administrative purposes the territory is divided into three geographic regions: Qikiqtaaluk, Kivalliq, and Kitikmeot.
There is little organized economic activity in Nunavut. Approximately one-third of its residents receive government aid, the unemployment rate is around 20 per cent, and the per capita income is substantially less than that of Canada as a whole. There are operating lead and zinc mines and known deposits of gold, silver, copper, and diamonds. Arctic College has three branches in the territory.
Like the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory, Nunavut has autonomy within Canada's federal system but less independence than the provinces. It has a legislative assembly with 19 members, including a speaker, a premier, and seven cabinet ministers. Nunavut has three official languages—Inuktitut, English, and French.