is the most populous and fastest growing of Canada's
three prairie provinces
. It is approximately the same size as France
and had a population of 3.7 million in 2009. It became a province on September 1, 1905, on the same day as Saskatchewan
. It is economically important primarily because of its vast oil reserves
, and its large tertiary and quaternary economic sector.
Alberta is located in western Canada, bounded by the provinces of British Columbia to the west, Saskatchewan to the east, the Northwest Territories to the north, and the U.S. state of Montana to the south. Alberta is one of three Canadian provinces and territories to border only a single U.S. state (the others being New Brunswick and Yukon). It is also one of only two Canadian provinces that are landlocked (the other being Saskatchewan).
The capital city of Alberta is Edmonton, located just south of the centre of the province. Roughly 300 kilometres (190 mi) south of the capital is Calgary, Alberta's largest city and a major distribution and transportation hub as well as one of Canada's major commerce centres. Edmonton is the primary supply and service hub for Canada's oil sands and other northern resource industries. According to recent population estimates, these two metropolitan areas have now both exceeded 1 million people. Other municipalities in the province include Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Camrose, Lloydminster, Brooks, Wetaskiwin, Banff, Cold Lake, and Jasper.
Alberta is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848–1939), the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. Princess Louise was the wife of the Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. Lake Louise, the village of Caroline, and Mount Alberta were also named in honour of Princess Louise. Since October 7, 2011, the Premier of the province has been Alison Redford, a Progressive Conservative.
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Towns in Alberta
are generally formed from communities with populations of at least 1,000 people.
Alberta has a total of 111 towns, with a population totaling 406,108 in 2005. The average Albertan town has between 3,000 and 4,000 inhabitants. 740 elected town officials ensure town governance throughout the province. When a town's population exceeds 10,000 people, the council may requests a change to city status, but the change in incorporation level is not mandatory. Communities with shrinking populations are allowed to retain town status even if the number of residents falls below the 1,000 limit.
A higher density of towns is found in the 400 km long Calgary-Edmonton Corridor, along the Queen Elizabeth II Highway. 72% of Alberta's population is concentrated in this region.
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