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Northern Canada, colloquially the North, is the vast northernmost region of Canada variously defined by geography and politics. Politically, the term refers to the three territories of Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. Similarly, the Far North (when contrasted to the North) may refer to the Canadian Arctic: the portion of Canada north of the Arctic Circle. Other parts of Northern Canada may include Nunavik and Northern Labrador.
These reckonings somewhat depend on the concept of nordicity, a measure of northernness that other Arctic territories share. Canada, a country in northern North America whose population is concentrated along its southern frontier with the United States, is frequently reckoned to not have a 'south.' As such, the 'South' is only perceived as a region when it is contrasted to or viewed from those in the North.
As a social rather than political region, the Canadian north is often subdivided into two distinct regions based on climate, the near north and the far north. The different climate of these two regions results in vastly different vegetation, and therefore much different economies, settlement patterns, and histories.
The "near north" or subarctic is mostly synonymous with the Canadian boreal forest, a large area of evergreen-dominated forests with a subarctic climate. This area has traditionally been home to the sub-Arctic First Nations: moose hunters, freshwater fishers and trappers. This region was heavily involved in the North American fur trade, and is home to many Métis people who originated in that trade. The area was subsequently part of the Numbered Treaties and become part of Canada, and then was opened non-Native settlement, and to forestry, mining, and oil and gas drilling. Today several million people live in the near north, around 15% of the Canadian total. Large parts of the near north are not part of Canada's territories, but rather are the northern parts of the provinces, meaning they have a much different political history as minority regions within larger units.
The "far north" is synonymous with the areas north of the tree line: the barren grounds and tundra. This area is home to the various sub-groups of the Inuit, a people unrelated the other Aboriginal people of Canada. These are people who have traditionally rely mostly on huting marine mammal and barren-ground Caribou. This area was somewhat involved in the fur trade, but more influenced by the whaling industry. This areas was not part of the early twentieth-century treaty process and aboriginal title has acknowledged by the Canadian government with creation autonomous territories instead of the Indian reserves of further south. Very few non-Aboriginal people have settled in these areas, and they represent less than 1% of Canada total population. The far north is also often broken into west and eastern halves. The eastern Arctic which means the self-governing territory of Nunavut (much of which is in the true Arctic, being north of the Arctic Circle), as well as Nunavik, an autonomous part of the province of Quebec, and Nunatsiavut an autonomous part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and perhaps a few parts of the Hudson Bay coast of Ontario and Manitoba. The western Arctic is the northernmost portion of the Northwest Territories (roughly Inuvik Region) and a small part of Yukon, together called the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.
Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60°W and 141°W longitude, extending all the way north to the North Pole: all islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Herschel, off the Yukon coast, form part of the region, are Canadian territory and the territorial waters claimed by Canada surround these islands. Views of territorial claims in this region are complicated by disagreements on legal principles. Canada and the USSR/Russia have long claimed that their territory extends according to the sector principle to the North Pole. The United States does not accept the sector principle and does not make a sector claim based on its Alaskan Arctic coast. Claims that undersea geographic features are extensions of a country's continental shelf are also used to support claims; for example the Denmark/Greenland claim on territory to the North Pole, some of which is disputed by Canada. Foreign ships, both civilian and military are allowed the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters of a littoral state subject to conditions in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The right of innocent passage is not allowed however, in internal waters, which are enclosed bodies of water or waters landward of a chain of islands. Disagreements about the sector principle or extension of territory to the North Pole and to the definition of internal waters in the Arctic lie behind differences in territorial claims in the Arctic. This claim is recognized by most countries with some exceptions, including the United States; Denmark, Russia, and Norway have made claims similar to those of Canada in the Arctic and are opposed by the European Union and the U.S.
This is especially important with the Northwest Passage. Canada asserts control of this passage as part of the Canadian Internal Waters because it is within 20 km (12 mi) of Canadian islands; the U.S. claims that it is in international waters. Today ice and freezing temperatures makes this a minor issue, but climate change may make the passage more accessible to shipping, something that concerns the Canadian government and inhabitants of the environmentally sensitive region.
Topography (Geography) 
While the largest part of the Arctic is composed of permanent ice and tundra north of the tree line, it encompasses geological regions of varying types: the Innuitian Mountains, associated with the Arctic Cordillera mountain system, is geologically distinct from the Arctic Region (which consists largely of lowlands). The Arctic and Hudson Bay Lowlands comprise a substantial part of the geographic region often considered part of the Canadian Shield (in contrast to the sole geological area). The ground in the Arctic is mostly composed of permafrost, making construction difficult and often hazardous, and agriculture virtually impossible.
The Arctic watershed (or drainage basin) drains northern parts of Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, most of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut as well as parts of Yukon into the Arctic Ocean, including the Beaufort Sea and Baffin Bay. With the exception of the Mackenzie River, Canada's longest river, this watershed has been little used for hydroelectricity. The Peace and Athabasca Rivers along with Great Bear and Great Slave Lake (respectively the largest and second largest lakes wholly enclosed within Canada), are significant elements of the Arctic watershed. Each of these elements eventually merges with the Mackenzie so that it thereby drains the vast majority of the Arctic watershed.
Using the political definition of the three northern territories, the North, with an area of 3,921,739 km2 (1,514,192 sq mi), larger in size than India at 3,287,263 km2 (1,269,219 sq mi), makes up 39.3% of Canada.
The population density for Northern Canada is 0.03 inhabitants per square kilometre (0.078 /sq mi) (0.06 /km2 (0.16 /sq mi) for Yukon, 0.03 /km2 (0.078 /sq mi) for the NWT and 0.01 /km2 (0.026 /sq mi) for Nunavut) compared to 3.5 /km2 (9.1 /sq mi) for Canada and 312.91 /km2 (810.4 /sq mi) for India.
It is heavily endowed with natural resources and in most cases they are very expensive to extract and situated in fragile environmental areas. Though GDP per person is higher than elsewhere in Canada, the region remains relatively poor, mostly because of the extremely high cost of most consumer goods, and the region is heavily subsidised by the government of Canada.
As of 2006, 52.8% of the population of the three territories (25.1% in Yukon, 50.3% in the NWT and 85.0% in Nunavut) is Aboriginal, either Inuit, First Nations or Métis. The Inuit are the largest group of Aboriginal peoples in Northern Canada, and 61.5% of all Canada's Inuit live in Northern Canada, with Nunavut accounting for 52.8%. The region also contains several groups of First Nations, who are mainly Chipewyan peoples. The three territories each have a greater proportion of Aboriginal inhabitants than any of Canada's provinces. There are also many more recent immigrants from around the world; of the territories, Yukon has the largest percentage of non-Aboriginal inhabitants, while Nunavut the smallest.
For hundreds of years, this area had been considered the largest 'uncivilized' area in the world. However, within the last 20 years, specifically in the last 5 years[when?], this area has started to boom with the rest of Canada. Although it has not been on the same scale, some towns and cities have seen population increases not seen for several decades before. Yellowknife has become the centre of diamond production for all of Canada (which has become one of the top three countries for diamonds).
Also resulting from a diamond boom, the per capita income of the Northwest Territories is at almost $95,000.
See also 
- Geography of Canada
- British Arctic Territories
- Operation Hurricane (Canada)
- Arctic Policy of Canada
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Northern Canada|
- The Atlas of Canada - Territorial Evolution, 1927
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
- "Total Area of India" (PDF). Country Studies, India. Library of Congress – Federal Research Division. December 2004. Retrieved 3 January 2011. "The country’s exact size is subject to debate because some borders are disputed. The Indian government lists the total area as 3,287,260 km2 (1,269,220 sq mi) and the total land area as 3,060,500 km2 (1,181,700 sq mi); the United Nations lists the total area as 3,287,263 km2 (1,269,219 sq mi) and total land area as 2,973,190 km2 (1,147,960 sq mi)."
- Land and freshwater area, by province and territory
- Population and dwelling counts, for Canada provinces and territories, 2006 and 2001 censuses - 100% data
- "India at a glance: Population". Census of India, 2001. Government of India. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
- Yukon 2006 Aboriginal Population Profile
- Northwest Territories 2006 Aboriginal Population Profile
- Nunavut 2006 Aboriginal Population Profile