People Facts

Inuit Peoples: History

Located at 63 ° latitude, -96° longitude.

The Inuit people live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and Subarctic, in the territory of Nunavut ("our land"); the northern third of Quebec, in an area called Nunavik ("place to live"); the coastal region of Labrador, in an area called Nunatsiavut ("our beautiful land"); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, and formerly in the Yukon territory. Collectively, these areas are known as Inuit Nunaat.

The Inuit People have lived in the Arctic Regions for thousands of years. After conquering the Dorset and Tuniit people, they settled into Southern Greenland and what is now the Northwest Territories of Canada.

The Inuit live primarily along the far northern seacoasts of Russia, the United States, Canada, and Greenland. All told, there are more than 100,000 Inuit, most of whom live south of the Arctic Circle. The majority, about 46,000, live in Greenland. There are approximately 30,000 on the Aleutian Islands and in Alaska, 25,000 in Canada, and 1,500 in Siberia.

The Inuit homeland is one of the regions of the world least hospitable to human habitation. Most of the land is flat, barren tundra where only the top few inches of the frozen earth thaw out during the summer months. The majority of Inuit have always lived near the sea, hunting aquatic mammals such as seals, walrus, and whales, as well as caribou, which provide much of their food and other items.

In 1999, the Northwest Territories of Canada was split into two regions, with the eastern part becoming the self-governing region of Canada known as Nunavut.

Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, making it the fifth-largest country subdivision in the world. The capital Iqaluit (formerly "Frobisher Bay") on Baffin Island, in the east, was chosen by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the regional centres of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island to the north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west.

Nunavut is both the least populated and the largest of the provinces and territories of Canada. It has a population of 29,474 spread over an area the size of Western Europe.

Image: Inuit family 1917. Public domain.

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