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Geography and Landscape


Alberta, also known as the 'Princess Province', is a province in western Canada with an area of 661,848 km², Canada's largest province after Quebec (1,542,056 km²), Ontario (1,076,395 km²) and British Columbia (944,735 km²). Alberta is not adjacent to the sea and the total area consists of 642,317 km² of land and for 19,531 km² out of water. Alberta belongs to the so-called prairie provinces, along with Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Canadian prairie provincesCanadian prairie provincesPhoto: Shaund CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Alberta is three times the size of Great Britain, and the same size of France, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands together. The greatest distance from north to south is 1,221 kilometers, from east to west 634 kilometers.
Alberta is bordered to the west by British Columbia, to the east on Saskatschewan (1,223 km), in the south to the US state of Montana (298 km) and in the north to the Northwest Territories (644 km). Alberta's northernmost village is Indian Cabins, 9 miles from the Northwest Territories border.
Canada is divided into six time zones, Newfoundland Time (-4.5 hours), Atlantic Time (-5 hours), Eastern Time (-6 hours), Central Time (-7 hours), Mountain Time (-8 hours), and Pacific Time (-9 hours);Alberta is in the Mountain Time time zone.


Alberta elevation mapAlberta elevation mapPhoto: Qyd in the public domain

Combining physiography, climate, soil, and vegetation, Alberta has identified four biophysical regions.
The prairie region, which extends into the US state of Montana, encompasses most of Southern Alberta, more precisely the area south and east of an arc extending from Waterton in the southwest corner to the Saskatchewan border east of Red Deer. This gently sloping almost treeless grassland is relatively dry, but this landscape is interrupted in places by deep river valleys and heights from about 300 meters in the northeast to more than 1,460 meters in the Cypress Hills in the southeast. Prairadic areas with the original vegetation can only be found sporadically, they have been cultivated almost everywhere over the years to serve as a 'granary'.
Vegetation-free, erosion-damaged barren spots in the prairie with canyons, ravines and hoodoos are called the 'Alberta Badlands'. This area is east of Calgary and stretches south. It is also one of the most important paleontological regions in the world because of the many dinosaur finds.

Alberta Prairie LandscapeAlberta Prairie LandscapePhoto: Brett Snyder CC1.0 Generic no changes made

Parkland, called 'Aspen Parkland' and a transition zone between forests in the north and prairie in the south, is predominant in central Alberta and is in the shape of a crescent moon west and north of the prairie region, including a much of the catchment area of the North Saskatchewan River.
The parkland ranges from lowlands formed by dry lake bottoms to rolling landscapes with numerous lakes and depressions. It contains both wooded areas, especially aspen, aspen and spruce, as well as grassy areas, with a soil that is extremely suitable for agricultural activities due to favorable climatic conditions.

Central Alberta ParklandCentral Alberta ParklandPhoto: Paulhami CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The northern half of Alberta is covered with arctic forests, especially taiga coniferous forests, and peatlands. Together with many lakes and large rivers that flow towards the Arctic Ocean, they define the landscape. Soil and harsh climatic conditions make farming difficult in this part of Alberta, except in the Pacific Northwest area, where parkland allows grain to be grown on the world's most northerly acreage. This relatively flat land is interrupted by the Swan Hills (max. Altitude 1200 meters), the Birch Mountains and the Caribou Mountains (max. Altitude 1030 meters).

Typical Canadian Rocky Mountains Landscape in AlbertaTypical Canadian Rocky Mountains Landscape in AlbertaPhoto: Gorgo in the public domain

To the west of the prairie, after a hilly area, the Rocky Mountain Foothills, loom the true Rocky Mountains, which lie in the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta as far as Canada is concerned. This strip of mountains, sometimes over 3,700 meters high, starts in Alberta near the city of Grande Prairie and runs south along Alberta's western border with British Columbia.
Most of Alberta's mountains are found in the southwestern part of the province on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Other areas of mountains include the Caribou Mountains and the Cypress Hills. Mount Columbia, located on the border with British Columbia, is the highest mountain in Alberta at 3747 meters and the second highest mountain in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (Mount Robson in British Columbia, 3954 meters). The Highwood Pass is located in Kananaskis Country, at 2206 meters the highest mountain pass in Canada with a paved road over it. The average elevation of Alberta is 725 meters. Alberta's lowest point (152 meters) is located in the northeast of the province at the Slave River in Wood Buffalo National Park. The city of Banff is the highest city in Canada (1,383 m), the village of Lake Louise is even higher, at 1,534 m.
On the border of British Columbia and Alberta are the 384-meter Takakkaw Falls, the Canada's second highest waterfall fed by meltwater from the Wapta Icefield. Other high or spectacular waterfalls are Crypt Falls (Waterton Lakes National Park, 150m), Upper Falls and Lower Falls (Banff National Park), Weeping Wall (Banff National Park, 100m), Bridal Veil Falls (Banff National Park), Panther Falls (Banff National Park), Upper Sunwapta Falls and Lower Sunwapta Falls (Jasper National Park), Athabasca Falls (Jasper National Park, 23 m).

Cypress HillsCypress HillsPhoto: Erik Lizee in the public domain

The Caribou Mountains are located in northern Alberta and form an elevated plateau in an otherwise flat landscape of wetlands. The mountains here reach a height of up to 1030 m, rising almost 700 m above the otherwise flat environment. In the far northwest of Alberta lies the Hay-Zama Lakes Wildland, a complex network of lakes, swamps and rivers, together an 800 km²large freshwater wetlands, one of the largest in Canada. About 300,000 ducks and geese reside here during the fall migration.
Covered with grassland and woodland, the Cypress Hills are located in southeast Alberta on the border with Saskatchewan and form the highest area between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador in the far west of Canada. The Cypress Hills reach a maximum height of 1468 meters.

Below are the top ten highest mountains in Alberta

Mount Columbia3747 meters
Twin Peaks Massif3684 meters
Mount Alberta3619 meters
Mount Forbes3612 meters
Mount Temple3543 meters
Mount Brazeau3525 meters
Snow Dome3520 meters
Mount Kitchener3505 meters
Mount Lyell3504 meters
Mount Hungabee3492 meters

Mount Columbia, Alberta's highest mountainMount Columbia, Alberta's highest mountainPhoto: Geoffl in the public domain

Rivers and lakes

Alberta has 245 rivers that flow into three different waters, the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. That there is no riverand outflows from Alberta into the Pacific is through the 'Continental Divide', 'Great Divide' or 'Continental Divide', a mountain ridge that leads to Mexico via Alaska, Canada (including Alberta) and the United States. Rivers west of the Continental Divide waters drain into the Pacific or Pacific Ocean; rivers east of this dividing line drain into the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the Continental Divide follows the Rocky Mountains in Canada and the United States. The Athabasca River Delta is the second largest river delta in the world after the Amazon River.

Below is an overview of Alberta's main rivers

River nameCatchment areaLength
Athabasca RiverAlberta1231 km
Beaver RiverAlberta and Saskatchewan491 km
Hay RiverAlberta and Northwest Territories702 km
Milk RiverAlberta and Montana1173 km
North Saskatchewan RiverAlberta and Saskatchewan1287 km
Peace RiverAlberta and British Columbia1923 km
Slave RiverAlberta and Northwest Territories434 km
South Saskatchewan RiverAlberta and Saskatchewan1392 km

Rivers of Alberta

Rivers of AlbertaPhoto: Qyd in the public domain

Alberta has some 600 lakes, mainly formed in the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago. There are several lake types in Alberta, from glacial lakes in the Rocky Mountains, small shallow lakes on the prairies, lakes with brown water in the northern arctic forests, 'muskeg' swamp lakes to large lakes with sandy beaches in Central Alberta.
The largest lake that lies entirely within Alberta territory is Lake Claire. The vast Lake Athabasca is mostly in the province of Saskatchewan, but the Alberta portion is still much larger than Lake Claire. One of the most beautiful lakes in Canada and a real tourist attraction is the emerald green mountain lake Lake Louise, which lies at the foot of Mount Victoria and is named after Queen Victoria's daughter, Louise Caroline Alberta.
It is special in Jasper National Park located Medicine Lake, which drains into an underground cave system during the fall and winter and rises again in the Maligne Canyon.

Ten Largest Lakes in Alberta

Lake AthabascaAlberta and Saskatchewan7850 km²(2295 km²in Alberta)
Lake ClaireAlberta1436 km²
Lesser Slave LakeAlberta1160 km²
Bistcho LakeAlberta426 km²
Utikuma LakeAlberta296 km²
Cold LakeAlberta and Saskatchewan280 km²(248 km²in Alberta)
Lac la BicheAlberta236 km²
Beaverhill LakeAlberta139 km²
Calling LakeAlberta134 km²
Winefred LakeAlberta123 km²

Satellite image of Lake Claire ( right part of Lake Athabasca) Satellite image of Lake Claire ( right part of Lake Athabasca) Photo: Copernicus Sentinel-2, ESA CC 3.0 IGO no changes made

 One of the most beautiful lakes: Lake Louise One of the most beautiful lakes: Lake LouisePhoto: Orlandkurtenbach in the public domain

National Parks

Alberta has the most park areas in Canada with its five national and 62 provincial parks. The national parks are Banff National Park, Elk Island Park, Jasper National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park.

Banff National Park (6641 km2) was Canada's first national park (1885) and worldwide the third. The national park is located in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and, in addition to mountains, valleys, glaciers, forests, rivers, lakes and grasslands, is also known for its sulfuric hot springs. The water of the Upper Hot Springs Pool at Sulfur Mountain averages 38°C. Particularly noteworthy are the ‘hoodoos’ , over 20,000 year old slate rock formations in the form of high tables. The highest point of Banff National Park is Mount Forbes (3612 m), the largest lake is the 28 km long Lake Minnewanka, there are 320 km of roads through the park and approximately 1500 km of hiking trails.

Hoodoos near East Coulee, AlbertaHoodoos near East Coulee, AlbertaPhoto: Darren Kirby CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Established in 1907 and a national park since 1930, Jasper National Park is the largest and most northerly of the four national parks in the Rocky Mountains. It covers an area of 10,878 km² with mountains, valleys, glacial lakes, Columbia Icefields, a 400 year old ice sea, 325 km² large with a thickness of up to 400 meters, and the 30 meter high Athabasca Falls.
Columbia Icefields is one of the largest non-polar icy seas in the world. Miette Hot Springs has the warmest spring water (to nearly 54°C) in the Rockies with a high mineral content. Jasper National Park has about 1000 km of hiking trails and thousands of camping spots.

Athabasca Glacier, AlbertaAthabasca Glacier, AlbertaPhoto: Carlos Delgado CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Athabasca Glacier is the largest glacier in the Rocky Mountains, six kilometers long and with a total area of 300 km². The glacier is an offshoot of the Columbia Icefield, the largest field of ice and snow in North America outside of the polar regions.

Elk Island National Park (194 km²), less than an hour's drive from Edmonton, was established in 1906 as Canada's first animal sanctuary. The nature in the park consists of rolling meadows, forests, ‘wetlands’ and some 250 lakes; about 20% of the surface consists of water. Elk Island Park, in addition to being a haven for moose, wood bison and prairie bison, is a true bird paradise with about 250 different species, including the trumpeter swan. The rare pygmy shrew is also found here.

Location Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

Location Wood Buffalo National Park, AlbertaPhoto: Qyd in het publieke domein

Wood Buffalo National Park (established 1922) is the largest national park in Canada and one of the largest in the world (44,807 km2), about the same size as Denmark (The largest national park in the world is the Greenland Northeast Greenland National Park, 972,001 km2). The park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 and encompasses three types of landscape: a highland, a plateau with marshes and streams and the Peace and Athabasca river delta, full of seals, marshes and shallow lakes. Several thousand forest bison live in this national park. With a length of 800 meters, this is home to the largest beaver dam in the world.

Waterton Lakes National Park, founded in 1895, is a relatively small national park with 525 km2. Here are a number of elongated lakes that extend into the American Montana. Waterton Lakes National Park has formed the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park since 1932, together with the Glacier National Park in Montana. This entire area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.

Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park, AlbertaPhoto: Jon Sullivan in the public domaein

Fish Creek, located in CalgaryProvincial Park is one of the largest city parks in the world (1189 ha).

Winter scenery in Fish Creek Park, AlbertaWinter scenery in Fish Creek Park, AlbertaPhoto: Cszmurlo CC 3.0 no changes made

Outside the valley of the Red Deer River stretch the ‘badlands’ from Alberta, a stony desert with ravines, table mountains, plateaus and rocky pillars, the so-called ‘hoodoos’ . This lunar landscape is one of the richest dinosaur fossil sites in the world.

Badlands AlbertaBadlands AlbertaPhoto: Dingy CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Climate and Weather

First snow Emerald Lake, northeast of Edmonton First snow Emerald Lake, northeast of Edmonton Photo: Adam Jones CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Calgary, Alberta Climate ChartCalgary, Alberta climate diagramPhoto: Hedwig in Washington CC-BY 2.5 no changes made

Edmonton, Alberta climate diagramEdmonton, Alberta climate diagramPhoto: Hedwig in Washington, CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

Due to Alberta's northern location, the province is located in a cool temperate climate zone, and due to the absence of a moderating influence from the ocean, it has a continental climate. As a result, it cools down quickly and heats up quickly. Alberta has cold, snowy winters and relatively short, dry and warm summers. Northern Alberta has a sub-arctic climate.
But the main factors determining the height of temperature and the amount of precipitation are the height and width of the Rocky Mountains and the direction of the prevailing winds. The mountain ranges intercept moist air from the Pacific Ocean and cause a decrease in precipitation. For this reason, the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains are in rain shadow and the skies over Alberta are generally clear. The weather in the Rocky Mountains can change rapidly within a day from a sunny winter day with freezing temperatures to bitter cold, strong winds and snowfall. Precipitation levels throughout the province are quite limited, ranging from about 300mm per year in the southeast to 400-450mm in the north, with the exception of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where rainfall is 550-600mm per year. In Edmonton an average of 460 mm falls per year. About half of all precipitation falls in the period June to August. Calgary has a 56% chance of a White Christmas, Edmonton is quite snow sure at Christmas (86%).
The dry clear air provides the people of Alberta with plenty of sunshine, ranging from 1,900 hours in the north to 2,300 hours a year in southern Lethbridge, more than anywhere else in Canada. Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada with an average of 333 days of sunshine per year. After that comes Medicine Hat with an average of 330 days of sunshine. Toronto, a lot further east, has 'only' 303 days of sunshine a year. Northern Alberta receives approximately eighteen hours of daylight during the summer period. The influence of the Pacific air masses diminishes in eastern Alberta, making way for continental air masses from the Arctic and the midwestern United States.

These air masses normally bring daytime temperatures of 5°C in the south to -15°C in the north and nighttime temperatures from -15°C in the south to -25°C in the north with peaks between -30°C and -40°C. In summer, maximum daytime temperatures range from 20°C in the north to 25°C in the south, with peaks around 35°C.
In early January 2015, the city of Grande Prairie was one of the coldest places on Earth with a temperature of -40°C and a wind chill of -4 °C. In Calgary it was less cold at that time with -20°C and a wind chill of -27°C.

The ‘chinook’ is a powerful föhn wind that descends from the mountains and blows from the west. During a chinook, the temperature can shoot up to 20°C in the middle of winter in a short time, while recently it was tens of degrees below zero. The region around Lethbridge, in southern Alberta, has the most 'chinook days' per year, about 30-35.

Another climatic phenomenon are the 'Alberta clippers', low pressure areas that rise above the Alberta prairies and carry very cold, generally dry air. Due to strong winds, the temperature can drop to around -40°C.

Alberta is also regularly hit by very severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, particularly in the South and Central Alberta. In 1987 Edmonton was hit by a tornado, in 2000 the area around Pine Lake was hit. In total, several dozen people were killed in these tornadoes. Hailstorm Alley is an area regularly hit by heavy hailstorms, running from Calgary to Red Deer and Edmonton.

Waterton Lakes National Park is the windiest place in all of Canada. The average daily wind speed is around 30 km/h, speeds of 100 km/h are quite normal in this area.

Chinook arch hangs over CalgaryChinook arch hangs over CalgaryPhoto: Qyd CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

This particular climatic condition occurs mainly around Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass and Lethbridge, but Calgary is also regularly affected by the Chinook. Red Deer, which is still more to the north of Calgary, also has to do with the chinook, up to, but that is very exceptional, even Grande Prairie in the west of the province.

Area in Alberta where the chinook is most common Area in Alberta where the chinook is most commonPhoto: Giftagger CC 3.0 no changes made

Plants and Animals


In Central and Northern Alberta, the arrival of spring is heralded by the early flowering of a variety of the common man's herb, Pulsatilla patens. This member of the buttercup family can bloom as early as March, but April is the normal flowering time. Other early bloomers on the prairie are Thermopsis rhombifolia, also called 'golden bean' or 'buffalo bean', and Rosa acicularis, a variety of the wild rose. The Rosa acicularis, which grows from Quebec to British Columbia, was chosen by schoolchildren in 1930 as the official flower of Alberta.

Rosa acicularis of wild rose, official flower of Alberta Rosa acicularis of wild rose, official flower of Alberta Photo: Qwert1234 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Members of the sunflower family bloom on the prairie in the summer months between July and September. The southern and central-eastern parts of Alberta are covered by short prairie grass, which withers during the summer and is then 'replaced' by hardy perennials such as Ratibida columnifera or 'Mexican hat', a fine jet species and sage. Both the lemon yellow honey clover and the white honey clover are found in Southern and Central Alberta. The trees in the parkland of Central Alberta, deciduous trees such as aspen, poplar and willow, grow in bushes on the hills. North of the North Saskatchewan River, forests dominate the landscape over thousands of square kilometers. American aspen, balsam poplar, and paper birch are the primary large deciduous species. Evergreen conifers include shrub, Rocky Mountain scots pine, twirled, white spruce, black spruce and the deciduous conifer Larix laricina or tamarack.

Larix laricina or tamarack in fall outfitLarix laricina or tamarack in fall outfitPhoto: Linda Baird-White in het publiek domein

Other trees and conifers typical of Alberta: Larix lyallii or 'alpine larch', Pinus flexilis or 'limber pine', ash gray pine, balsam fir, Douglas fir, Engelmann fir, Rocky Mountin maple, feather maple or California maple, American red maple, Rocky Mountain juniper, American larch, American or American black poplar, Western American balsam poplar, American white pine.
Watch out for the common 'poison ivy', touching this plant can be enough for successively unbearable itching, inflammation and ulcers.

Poison ivy or 'poison ivy'Poison ivyPhoto: Public domain


Alberta's four landscape types (mountains, arctic forests, parklands and prairies) are home to many different types of animals. There are not many places in the world with such a wide variety of wildlife as Alberta. Alberta has about 587 species, including 10 amphibians, 93 mammals, 411 birds, 8 reptiles and 65 fish. In addition, some 20,000 insect species still walk, crawl and fly around Alberta. British Columbia is the only province in Canada with a higher number of mammal species. Alberta's 'national' animal is the bighorn sheep.

Bighorn Sheep, the 'national' animal of Alberta Bighorn Sheep, the 'national' animal of Alberta Photo: Jon Sullivan in the public domain

The southern and central prairie regions were once fully owned by millions of wood bison, a subspecies of American bison. The bison population was rapidly being decimated and threatened with extinction from the beginning of colonization. At the moment the bison is doing reasonably well again.

Forest BisonForest BisonPhoto: CanadianEman CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Alberta is home to a number of large carnivores, including the grizzly and blackbear in the mountains and wooded areas. The smaller carnivores of the dog and cat family include coyotes, wolves, foxes (including the rare kit fox), bobcat, Canadian lynx, and cougars. Other small predators include wolverine, river otter or North American otter, weasel, fishing marten, silver badger or American badger, black-footed bunzing, mink or American mink, and striped skunk or skunk. Large herbivorous mammals are found throughout the province, moose, mule deer, elk, white-tailed deer, woodland caribou in forested areas, gaffbuck on the prairies of southern Alberta, bighorn sheep and snow goats live in the Rocky Mountains.
Rabbits, porcupines (including the primeval sun or North American porcupine), raccoons, beavers (including the Canadian beaver), squirrels (including the American red squirrel, red-tailed chipmunk) and many types of rodents, including the American hare, mountain cottontail, North American flute bunny, jackrabbit, the musk or bisamrat, the gray marmot, woodchuck, yellow-bellied marmot and the rare Ordinary Kangaroo sacrifice from the cheek-bag mouse family scattered throughout the province. Alberta has only one venomous snake in its territory, the prairie rattlesnake.
In Central and Northern Alberta, migratory birds find nesting sites in the spring. In addition to the Canadian crane or prairie crane, large numbers of ducks, geese, swans and pelicans nest on or near the many lakes. Eagles, hawks, owls and crows also benefit from this and there is also a great variety of seed and insect-eating birds. Rivers and lakes are full of pike, broad-mouthed, American yellow bass, rainbow trout, brook trout, among others. red-throated trout, fathead minnow, brook or river trout, spotted omberfish and sturgeon. The Salvelinus confluentus or 'bull trout' is Alberta's provincial fish.

Salvelinus confluentus of 'bull trout ', provincial symbol of Alberta

Salvelinus confluentus of 'bull trout ', provincial symbol of AlbertaPhoto: Bart Gammet in the public domain

A selection of the many butterfly species: thistle butterfly, mourning cloak, atalanta (also known as admiral or number butterfly), small fire butterfly, monarch butterfly, variegated tadpole, black-headed tadpole and small cabbage white.

A selection of the bat species: big brown bat, red bat, gray bat, small brown bat and a number of species from the smooth-nosed family.

A selection of amphibians and reptiles: long-toed salamander, tiger salamander, forest frog, western ornamental turtle, red-sided garter snake and western hook-nosed snake.

What is special is that Alberta has been completely free of the brown rat, being the only province in Canada and one of the few places in the world anyway. Successive governments have worked on this since the early 1950s, and with great success until a few years ago. However, a colony of brown rats was found in a landfill in Medine Hat in 2012, and again in 2014.

Southeast of Drumheller, UNESCO established Dinosaur Provincial Park in 1955. This World Heritage area contains the richest fossil beds in the world. More than 300 important discoveries have been made here.

T-Rex in Drumheller, AlbertaT-Rex in Drumheller, AlbertaPhoto: Kevstan CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Elk Island National Park is home to large mammals such as the wapiti, the steppe bison and the endangered forest bison. Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada's largest national park and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 because rare animals like the wood bison live there. Peregrine falcons and the bald eagle also live here and it is the only stable natural breeding ground in the world for the rare trumpet crane.

Trumpeter CraneTrumpeter CranePhoto: Rod CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Waterton Lakes National Park has the richest wildlife of all Canadian parks, from bears to bighorn sheep and from waterfowl to sapwoods.

Banff National Park (6,640 km2), Canada's oldest national park, is home to many animal species in their natural environment: mountain goats, big horn sheep, deer, black bears, grizzly bears and wapiti. A special appearance is the American nutcracker. The lower slopes are covered with dense forests of pine, silver fir, and some Douglas fir. At higher altitudes, the species are supplanted by pine trees and the Engelmann spruce. At an altitude of 2,135 meters there is a semi-arctic climate where many colorful alpine flowers still bloom. Around Banff Cave & Basin, an area with many hot springs, a snail species lives in the hot water that is only found here, the Physella johnsoni or Banff Springs snail.

Physella johnsoni or Banff Springs snail, unique in Alberta but also in the world Physella johnsoni or Banff Springs snail, unique in AlbertaPhoto: Paulmkgordon CC 2.5 Generic no changes made

The flora in Banff and Jasper National Park includes 996 species of vascular plants (trees, grasses and flowers), 407 lichens, 243 mosses and 53 liverworts.

Saskatoon Island Provincial Park is one of the nesting areas of the rare trumpeter swan.

Nesting trumpet swanNesting trumpet swanPhoto: public domain

McLennan in western Alberta is known as the 'Bird Capital of the World' as it is here that three major migration routes converge around Kimiwan Lake, namely Mississippi, Pacific and Central. About 27,000 beach birds and 250,000 water birds converge here, more than 200 different species have been spotted here.

Below is an extensive overview of breeding and migratory birds observed in Alberta:

American wigeonwhistling swansmall winnerruddy thorntail
American pochardGreat Canada Goosecockade sawbeakBrent Goose
American Scoterlarge pochardwhite-fronted gooseshoveler
American Black DuckGreat merganserking eiderwigeon
Blue-winged TealGreat Scotergadwallsnow goose
goldeneyeharlequin duckTufted Ducktopper
Spectacled Sea Ducklong-tailed duckmiddle mergansertrumpet swan
buffalo-headed duckIcelandic goldeneyepintailwild duck
Summer duckcinnamon tealring-billed duckteal
eiderSmall Canada GooseRoss' goosesummer translation

Male GargeneyMale GargeneyPhoto: Dick Daniels CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Blue Grouseturkeypartridge or field henfan fowl
forest grousecollar grousePrairie FowlWhite-tailed Grouse
pheasantMarsh GrouseSpiny-tailed Grouse

White-tailed SnowgrouseWhite-tailed SnowgrousePhoto: Footwarrior CC 3.0 Generisk no changes made

Clark's GrebeEared CormorantCrested DiverRed-throated Diver
Fat-billed GrebeBlack-necked GrebePacific pearl diverwhite pelican
Yellow-billed DiverIce Diverred-necked grebegooseneck grebe

Swan-necked GrebeSwan-necked GrebePhoto: Frank Schulenburg CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

American Blue Herongreen heronCattle EgretWhite-bellied Heron
American Little EgretGreat Egretquackwhite-faced ibis
Yellow-crowned night heronLittle Blue HeronNorth American Bittern

North American BitternNorth American BitternPhoto: Walter Siegmund CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

American SparrowhawkCooper's SparrowhawkRed-headed Vulturemerlin
American KestrelGyrfalconRed-tailed Hawkgolden eagle
Bald eaglehawkred rough-legged hawkosprey
Hen harrierprairie buzzardrough-legged hawk
broad-winged hawkprairie falconPeregrine Falcon

Coopers sparrowhawkCoopers SparrowhawkPhoto: Cephas CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

American cootsoraralAmerican Golden Ploverkilldeerplevier
Canadian craneTrumpeter CraneAmerican Kentish PloverMongolian plover
yellow ralVirginia-ralAsian Golden PloverPrairie Plover
craneRinged PloverPiping Ploversilver plover

Great Ringed PloverGreat Ringed PloverPhoto: Dick Daniels CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

American Avocetblonde riderbig gray snipred godwit
American Black-winged StiltBonapartes Sandpiperknot sandpiperRed-throated Sandpiper
Alaska Randlopervariegated sandpiperruffred phalarope
American Woodland Ridersurf runnerLittle Yellow-legged RiderSiberian Sandpiper
yellow ralthree-toed sandpiperlittle gray snipturnstone
American Woodcockeskimo curlewlittle sandpiperstilt sandpiper
American sandpiperstriped sandpipersmallest sandpiperwillet
American snipegray phalaropecurved sandpiperblack rider
American curlewgray sandpiperSpoon-billed Sandpiperblack turnstone
Baird's sandpiperlarge phalaropemarble godwit
Bartrams riderGreat Yellow-legged Riderwhimbrel

Eskimo curlewEskimo curlewPhoto: Cephas CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Little Terngreat black-backed gullsmallest hunterThayer's gull
Bering Gullivory gullmiddle huntercommon tern
KittiwakeKamchatka centuryarctic ternfork-tailed gull
Little GullLittle Mayorprairie gullherring gull
Forsters sternlittle huntergiant ternblack tern
Franklin's Gulllittle black-headed gullRing-billed Gull
great mayorlesser black-backed gullStorm Gull

Grand MayorGrand MayorPhoto: Sowls Art in the public domain

Asiatic Marble Alkrock pigeonwhite-winged terror pigeonBlack-billed Guillemot
band-tailed pigeonweeping pigeonSilver Alk
Yellow-billed CuckooCollared Doveblack guillemot

Yellow-billed CuckooYellow-billed CuckooPhoto: Factumquintus CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

American Eagle OwlLapland Owllong-eared owlShort-eared Owl
striped tawny owlNorth American Scops Owlrough-legged owlWestern Screech Owl
burrowing owlEastern Screech Owlsnowy owlsaw owl
Barn OwlPonderosa Scowl's OwlEurasian hawk

American Eagle Owl, 'national' bird of Alberta American Eagle Owl, 'national' bird of AlbertaPhoto: Brendan Lally CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

American nightjarPied Common Swiftpoorwillwhippoorwill
Anna's Hummingbirdcallio hummingbirdRuby-throated Hummingbirdblack swift
band kingfisherCosta's hummingbirdruddy hummingbirdBlack-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated HummingbirdRuby-throated HummingbirdPhoto: Jeffreyw CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

American three-toed woodpeckeryellow-bellied woodpeckerNorth American Helmet Woodpeckerblack-backed woodpecker
mountain sapwoodgolden ground woodpeckerRed-bellied Woodpecker
Down Woodpeckerhair woodpeckerRed-headed Woodpecker
acorn woodpeckerLewis' woodpeckerRed-necked Woodpecker

North American helmeted woodpeckerNorth American helmeted woodpeckerPhoto: Cephas CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

wormwood tyrantCassin's buntingcat birdred-necked bunting
American Tree CreeperCassin's rosefinchkeepred-throated bluebird
American Wood ThrushCassins vireoKentucky singerRed-crowned Cock
American MagpieCedar WaxwingGreat Gray Shrikered-eyed vireo
American Gold RoosterConnecticut singerlittle fairy tyrantred-eared bunting
Great Gray Shrikepine ice creamking tyrantRed-tailed Bunting
American cliff swallowpine warblercurved-billed thrushRed Mockingbird
American crowdickcisselcrossbillmourning singer
American bullheaddwarf thrushlazuligorssavannah bunting
American rosefinchElzenfeetiranLecontes buntingSays phoebe
American Redstartepaulet starlingLincolns buntingsnow bunting
American Rock Winter KingGambels titLouisianatangarespruce tyrant
Arkansas King's Tyrantyellow-breasted vireomagnolia pendantspruce piewie
evening fat beakYellow-breasted Warblermangrove warblerspruce warbler
evening buntingYellow-Jawed Meadow StarlingMcCowns Ice Buntingmockingbird
Baird's buntingyellow-throated warblerMexican Redhammergrasshopper thorn
Baltimoretroepialyellow headed groupialswamp buntingSteller's Jay
Redpollyellow-rumped warblerswamp wrenbeach lark
mountain hedge sparrowScarlet WarblerMonk Warblerscrub tyrant
mountain bluebirdyellow black-throated warblersparrow buntingWheatear
mountain solitairespotted towieNashville singerTennis singer
mountain spot thrushregular mask singerNelson's White-tailed BuntingTiger Warbler
Birch Feather Tyrantcommon ravenNorth American rough-winged martintundra dragons
blue jayCommon StarlingNorth American dipperTownsends singer
blue black-throated warblershiny gravelNorthern House Wrenveery
blue-gray mosquito trapGold Kruingorsarctic water thrushfield bunting
Blue-throated Bluebirdgold ice creamriver tyrantfork-tailed king tyrant
Blue-winged WarblerGray-headed Warblersand martinwestern forest view
pale buntinggray-crowned mountain finchEast American Wrenwillow flycatcher
bobolink or rice troepialgray-cheeked thrushOrpheusvireoWilson's singer
barn swallowgray juncooven birdwhiteband crossbill
variegated ice buntingGray NutcrackerPacific water pipitWhite-breasted Nuthatch
pied thrushgray black-throated warblerpalm warblerWhitefish Meadow Starling
colorful singergreen vocalsthereWaxwingWhite-throated Sparrow
tree martingreen swallowPhiladelphiavireoWhite-crowned Gingers
Brewers buntinggreen-tailed towiephoebewhite-rumped redpoll
Brewers troopialgreat crested tyrantPinyongaaisinging bunting
Glasses singerhook beakprairiegorssay winter king
glasses vireoHermit Thrushprairie beepersummer tangare
brown-headed cowbirdHermit Warblerpurple buntingSwallowtail King's Tyrant
Bullocks troopialHudson Titpurple swallowblack troopial
cactus pot thrushhouse sparrowred cardinalblack-throated bunting
Canadian NuthatchIce Buntingrust flank warblerBlack-headed Cardinal
Canadian taiga jayindigogorsRobin CardinalBlack-headed Warbler
Canadian singerchestnut backEuropean Robinblack-crowned goose
Carolina Wrenchestnut warblerred-sidedowieBlack Wing Tangare

Canadian long jayCanadian long jayPhoto: Mdf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Alberta before the arrival of the Europeans

The Canadian province of Alberta has a history stretching back thousands of years to prehistoric times. Written sources are unfortunately only available since the arrival of the Europeans in the 18th century.

The ancestors of today's First Nations (native Indian population) lived at least 8,000 years BC. in Alberta. Southern tribes, generally prairie Indians such as the Blackfeet, were made up of four different tribes: the Pikuni or Piegan, the Northern Pikuni, the Siksika, and the Blood of Kainai Indians lived in the borderlands of Northern Montana and Southern Alberta. More northerly tribes, such as the Woodland Cree and the Chipewyan, lived in wooded areas.

In a much later period, these original inhabitants mixed with French fur traders and thus created a new culture, that of the mestizos. Mestizos first lived mainly east of Alberta, but hunted by European white settlers, many mestizos settled in Alberta.

It is believed that in the period 950-1250 the large prairie areas became depopulated due to a period of drought. After this dry period, the prairies became populated again, now with tribes from all over North America, including Comanches, Shoshones, Sioux, Assiniboine and Crow. In addition to frequent tribal wars, there were also periods of cooperation between these tribes in semi-permanent alliances.

Late 19th century fur trader in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta Late 19th century fur trader in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta Photo: Public domain

Alberta after the arrival of the Europeans

The first European to reach Alberta was probably a Frenchman Pierre la Vérendrye or one of his sons. La Vérendrye reached the present-day neighboring province of Manitoba mainly through a system of rivers in 1730, founded forts there and negotiated in person with the Indians about the fur trade. Around 1750, the best furs were traded by La Véendrye outside of the Hudson's Bay Company (Canada's oldest company), a London-based company founded in 1670 that dominated the fur trade in British North America for centuries on the rivers flowing into Hudson Bay. .

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye (1685-1749) Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye (1685-1749)Photo: Jean Gagnon CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The first written source containing present-day Alberta was by fur trader Anthony Henday, who was in the Edmonton and Red Deer area in 1754-55. Other important early discoverers of Alberta were Peter Fidler, David Thompson, Peter Pond, Alexander MacKenzie and George Simpson. The first European settlement, Fort Chipewyan, was founded in 1788 by Alexander MacKenzie. This 'honor' is also disputed by Fort Vermilion, which was also founded in 1788.

Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), explorer Alberta Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), explorer AlbertaPhoto: Publiek domein

Alberta's earliest history is thus closely linked to the fur trade, and the first confrontation was between French and English fur traders, which had the character of a genuine fur war. Central and Southern Alberta, so-called Rupert's Land, were fully claimed by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1670. Rupert's Land was a huge area, about a third of what is now Canada. This monopoly was disputed by a French trade organization from Montreal, 'Coureurs des Bois', but after the Battle of Quebec in 1759 during the Seven Years' War between the English and the French, the Hudson's Bay Company gained a monopoly on the fur trade and was able to expand it indefinitely and maintain. France was finally defeated after Quebec, and at the Peace of Paris in 1763 the French were more or less forced to cede all their possessions in Canada to the English, and the British-controlled area was renamed British North America. In the 1770s, competition for the Hudson's Bay Company resumed through the North West Company, a private company that focused mainly on the rivers and waters that did not end in Hudson Bay, but in the Pacific, for example. Many of Alberta's current cities once started out as a commercial networksettlement of the Hudson's Bay Company or the North West Company.
In 1821 the Hudson's Bay Company merged with the North West Company, but as early as 1870 the monopoly position of the new company was banned and any company could enter the fur market fail. Under the Rupert's Land Act of 1868, Rupert's Land and North-Western Territory was transferred to the Dominion of Canada on July 15, 1870 and was henceforth called Northwest Territories. The Dominion of Canada was formed by three British-North American provinces since July 1, 1867: the Province of Canada, split into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The province of Manitoba was added in 1870, British Columbia in 1871 and Prince Edward Island in 1873.

Provinces of Dominion of Canada in the period 1867-1870 Provinces of Dominion of Canada in the period 1867-1870Photo: Public domain

The economic struggles roughly paralleled the religious struggles between rival churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, Methodists, the Anglican Church of Canada, and several other Protestant denominations, who were trying to win over the Native American population. The first Roman Catholic missionary, Jean-Baptiste Thibault, arrived in Lac Saint Anne, Alberta in 1842, and founded the first permanent Roman Catholic mission there. The Methodist Robert Bundle founded a mission in 1847.
The year 1867 was the year of Canada's birth: The British North America Act proclaims the colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec as the Dominion of Canada. The area of present-day Alberta was added to the Dominion of Canada in 1870 with the aim of making it a white-run and managed agricultural area. To this end, the Canadian government negotiated through the so-called 'Numbered Treaties' with various Indian tribes. The Indians were offered land in exchange for transferring all claims to large tracts of other land. At the same time, the waning power of the Hudson's Bay Company brought American whiskey traders and hunters to Southern Alberta, disrupting the Native American way of life. In 1873 this led to the Cypress Hills Massacre in present-day Saskatchewan, in which 23 Nakota Indians were murdered by a group of American bison and wolf hunters. It was also during this time that whiskey was introduced to the Native Americans, and white hunters shot masses of bison, the primary food source for the prairie Indians. The Indians also suffered from diseases brought along by the Europeans and the outbreak of wars between Indian tribes was commonplace. This culminated in the 1870 Battle of Belly River between the Blackfeet Confederacy and the Cree Indians. It would later turn out that it had been the last major battle between Indians on Canadian soil.

To restore calm, the government established the North-West Mounted Police, the 'mounties', in 1873. 1904 continued under the name Royal Northwest Mounted Police and after a merger with the Dominion Police the current Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In July 1874, 275 mounties headed for Alberta, the legendary 'March West'. At the westernmost point, a new headquarters was set up at Fort MacLeod, in 1875 Fort Walsh was established in the Cypress Hills, and Fort Calgary, a police station to combat the illegal whiskey trade, which later became the important city of Calgary for Alberta. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is currently about 15,000 strong.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police, AlbertaRoyal Canadian Mounted Police, AlbertaPhoto: Public domain

As the bison gradually disappeared from view in Western Canada, that place was soon taken by large cattle ranches, which were extremely suitable for this in this prairie environment. In Alberta, the first herd of cows was brought in by the black American cowboy John Ware in 1876, but the entire livestock and meat industry was in the hands of a few powerful men like Patrick Burns, who was also a period senator in the parliament of Alberta.

Patrick Burns (1856-1937)Patrick Burns (1856-1937)Photo: Public domain

In 1882, the District of Alberta, named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, fourth daughter of the British Queen Victoria and wife of the Marquess of Lorne, who was then Governor General of Canada, was created as part of the Northwest Territories.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Pacific Railway was establishing rail lines towards the Pacific, and in 1885 the Trans-Canadian Railway was completed. Also in 1885 in what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta, the North-West Rebellion broke out between Mestizos and Indians on the one hand and Canadian government forces on the other. The insurgents eventually lost the battle and their leader Louis Riel was captured. After this battle, more and more settlers moved to Alberta, including 600,000 Americans around 1890. In order to attract even more settlers, advertising began in Europe, and large groups of Germans, Ukrainians and Scandinavians, among others, moved to Canada. and Alberta.

Canadian provinces and territories in the period 1881-1886 Canadian provinces and territories in the period 1881-1886 Photo: Golbez CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

By the early 1900s, Alberta was still just a district of the North-West Territories, but local leaders lobbied fiercely for provincial status. But the Prime Minister of the Territories, Frederick Haultain, was also strongly in favor of a provincial division of the West, but he opted for one large province called Buffalo. The Canadian Prime Minister at the time, Wilfrid Laurier, did not want that because a Buffalo-like province would become too much of a competitor for Ontario and Quebec. He proposed and eventually it would become a two-provinces plan: on September 1, 1905, Alberta, with its capital Edmonton, and Saskatchewan, became Canadian provinces. The first Prime Minister of Alberta would become the Liberal Alexander Rutherford, he led the province from 1905 to 1910, the Liberals remained in power until 1921. The new province had a population of 78,000 at the beginning of the 20th century, but the area lacked infrastructure, schools, and medical facilities. In addition, Ottawa had control of its natural resources until 1930, severely curtailing the province's economic development. This would continue to pose problems well into the 20th century between the government of Alberta and the national government in Ottawa. Meanwhile, Calgary was not amused that Edmonton had been named the capital of the new county, and became all the rage when the University of Alberta was given over to Strathcona, a suburb annexed by Edmonton in 1912.

Alexander Cameron Rutherford (1857-1941), first Prime Minister of Alberta, Canada Alexander Cameron Rutherford (1857-1941), first Prime Minister of Alberta Photo: Public domain

Attracted by cheap land and high wheat prices, more and more people migrated to the new province, by 1914 the population had already risen to 470,000. Important provincial political parties at that time became the 'agricultural' parties United Farmers of Alberta (UFA) and the Progressive Party of Canada, a national party. John E. Brownlee led the UFA to a majority in the provincial parliament after the elections in 1926 and 1930, and in 1930 managed to transfer control of natural resources from central government to provincial government. After a private scandal and economic setback, including plunging wheat prices, the UFA disappeared from the political scene in 1934. John Lineham (1861-1913), Western Canada's first oiler, co-founded in February 1901 with George Leeson and engineer Allan Patrick established the Rocky Mountain Development Company. They were convinced there was money to be made from oil and later that year began drilling for oil near Cameron Lake, now located in Waterton Lakes National Park. The trio succeeded in extracting a maximum of 300 barrels per day, but this oil well already dried up in 1904.

Athabasca Tar Sands circa 1900Athabasca Tar Sands circa 1900Photo: Public domain

In 1914 oil was found again in Alberta, now south of Calgary in Turner Valley, at a depth of about 900 meters. For a long time, Turner Valley remained the largest gas and oil producer in the worldThe British Empire did not yet generate much income, but it did have a positive influence on the development of Calgary, which until then had mainly been the center of the meat industry in Canada and was not nicknamed 'cowtown' for nothing. It was not until the opening of a large oil field at Leduc, about 20 km south of Edmonton, for oil to become really important to the Alberta and Canadian economies. In 1948 oil was produced at Redwater, in 1956 the largest field to date, Pembina Field, west of Edmonton. Other fields were discovered east of Grande Prairie in central Alberta. In 1991, the fields of Alberta produced 81% of all crude oil in Canada, from then on, however, the quantities extracted decreased steadily. Oil exploration also led to the discovery of large gas fields, including at Picher Creek in the southeast and at Medicine Hat in northwestern Alberta.
The tar sands in the Athabasca River valley north of Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta, contains a tremendous amount of oil, after Saudi Arabia the largest amount in the world. The first oil mill to extract oil from the tar sands was opened in 1967, the second in 1978. In 1991, the factories together produced 100 million barrels of oil. Politically important to Alberta was the 1932 foundation of the Social Credit Movement under led by William Aberhart, 'Bible Bill', which in 1935 created a political party, the Social Credit Party. The fundamentalist, God-fearing Aberhart denounced the modern materialist world and wanted everyone to take advantage of the increasing purchasing power. To achieve this, Aberhart wanted to give each man and woman $ 25 a month in the form of a so-called 'social credit'. Almost everyone was against this idea, which in the end would never be implemented, but unsurprisingly, Aberthart's Social Credit Party won by far in the 1935 parliamentary elections. The Social Credit Party remained in power until 1971 and won nine consecutive elections. Aberhart was Alberta's seventh Prime Minister from 1935 to 1943.

William Aberhart (1878- 1943), seventh Prime Minister of Alberta William Aberhart (1878- 1943), seventh Prime Minister of Alberta Photo: Public domain

Aberthart was succeeded in 1943 by his student Ernest C. Manning, and under him the Social Credit Party remained in power until 1968.
In the mid-1980s, the Social Credit Party was replaced by the Social Credit Party. son of Manning, Preston Manning, transformed into the Reform Party of Canada.

Alberta's contribution to World War II was substantial. In Alberta itself, POW and internment camps were set up in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Wainwright and Kananaskis Country. Moreover, in Alberta, in addition to a number of military training facilities, there were a large number of airfields of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Many thousands of men, and later women, volunteered in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army and parts of the army such as the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, the Calgary (Tank) Regiment and the Calgary Highlanders fought for freedom in Europe.
By 1942, many Japanese from British Columbia, (Alberta itself had populations of Japanese in Raymond and Hardieville), sent to internment camps in Southern Alberta. The intention was that these Japanese would emigrate to Japan after the war, but not much of it came to pass and at this time the Japanese are completely assimilated into the population of Alberta.

Important for the opening up of all Canadian Provinces marked the completion in 1962 of the Trans-Canada Highway. In 1971, the conservatives of Peter Lougheed's Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, often referred to as the Progressive Consevative Party of Alberta, put an end to the decades-long governance of the Social Credit Party and have been supplying Alberta Prime Minister Peter Lougheed (1971-1985) ever since., Don Getty (1985-1992), Ralph Klein (1992-2006), Ed Stelmach (2006-2011), Alison Redford (2011-2014), Dave Hancock (2014) and Jim Prentice (2014-....), since September 15, 2014, the 16th Prime Minister of Alberta. The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta is currently the longest-serving party in Canada's history at the provincial level of government.

Jim Prentice, 16th Prime Minister of AlbertaJim Prentice, 16th Prime Minister of AlbertaPhoto: Dave Cournoyer CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Important to Alberta's tourism and economy was the organization of the 15th Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988.

In June 2013, after a period of heavy rains, Alberta was hit by devastating floods and mudslides, and rivers such as the Bow, Elbow, Highwood and Oldman burst their banks. Tens of thousands of 'Albertans', especially in and around Calgary, were forced to leave their homes. Roads and bridges were washed away in southern Alberta, the Trans-Canada Highway was cut off, and the villages of Banff and Canmore were cut off from the outside world.

On August 9, 2014, an area 75 km from the town was Sylvan Lake, near Red Deer and exactly halfway between Edmonton and Calgary, was hit by an earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter Scale. The previous very noticeable earthquake (3.6 on the Richter Scale) was already dated November 12, 2007 near Spuce Grove, just west of Edmonton. The heaviest earthquake in the last 40 years, 4.8 on the Richter Scale, was on May 14, 1978, southwest of Jasper. Between 1918 and 2009, 819 earthquakes were reported in Alberta, but they caused little damage and no casualties.

Alberta was hit by floods in June 2013Alberta was hit by floods in June 2013Photo :Ryan L,C. Quan CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

At the beginning of January 2015, Prime Minister Jim Prentice announced that due to the plummeting oil prices from November 2014, the projected budget surplus would fall from $ 1.5 billion in 2015 to a budget deficit of $ 500 million. Since the summer of 2014, the price of a barrel of oil had fallen from 100 US dollars to 50 dollars in early January 2015. In 2019, there have been climate protests from young people in particular against what they say is the overshadowed importance of oil to Alberta.
See also the history of Canada on Landenweb.


Alberta population (2011) compared to the other Canadian provinces Alberta population (2011) compared to the other Canadian provincesPhoto: Srm038 CC 4.0 International no changes made

The population of Alberta was 4.08 million in 2013 and the population density was approximately 6 inhabitants per km2. As a result of the strong economic conditions, Alberta attracts many people from the other Canadian provinces and population growth is therefore higher than elsewhere in Canada.

For example, between 1996 and 2006, 469,095 people from Canada's other provinces migrated to Alberta and 261,500 people left the province to seek refuge in other provinces. Alberta has a total of 449 cities and towns.

Population growth Alberta 1900-2010 Population growth Alberta 1900-2010Photo: Casito at english wikipedia CC 3.0 no changes made

Population growth in the last hundred years has been spectacular, from 73,022 inhabitants in 1901 to 3,645,257 in 2011, an increase of 1.5% of the Canadian population to 10.9%. The population grew by more than 40% between 1991 and 2009. A city like Calgary also experienced several growth spells, after the oil discovery in 1947 and, for example, after the Arab oil boycott in the early 1970s. Then the city grew from 400,000 inhabitants in 1971 to far more than one million today. The population of Edmonton doubled in the period 1946-1956 to 254,800. The population of the tar-sands city of Fort McMurray increased from 1,500 in 1974 to 75,000 in 2014. An average income of 135,000 Canadian dollars in 2010, compared to 104,000 in Calgary and 94,000 in Toronto, will certainly have contributed to this spectacular population growth.

10 Largest Cities Alberta (ca. 2011)

Red Deer98,000
St. Albert61500
Fort McMurray61190
Medicine Hat60,000
Grande Prairie55,000
Spruce Grove26,500

Statistics Canada, the Canadian Bureau of Statistics, conducted an extensive study in 2014 into the development of the Canadian population for the next 25 years. For Alberta, it means that by 2038 the province will become the third largest province in Canada in terms of population, after Ontario and Quebec. Alberta is currently in fourth place after British Columbia. With a relatively young population, a relatively high fertility rate and substantial inland migration to Alberta, Alberta is expected to experience the greatest population growth of all provinces from just over four million in 2014 to between 5.6 and 6.8. million inhabitants in 2038.

Less than 20% of the population lives in rural areas, the rest in cities. The vast majority of people are of white or Native American descent and just over 10% are members of a minority group. The Edmonton/Calgary region is the most urbanized area in Alberta and is among the four most urbanized areas in Canada. In 2011, about 30% of the population lived in Calgary and about 25% in the capital Edmonton. Calgary is the second largest city in Canada after Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver, Edmonton is the fifth largest city.

Alberta currently has approximately 173,000 inhabitants of Dutch origin, who often live together. Villages such as Picture Butte, Monarch, Nobleford, Neerlandia and Strathmore consist largely of 'Dutch'.

Canadian native Indianpeoples, excluding Inuit and Mestizos or Métis, are called First Nations or 'First Nations'. In prehistoric times, Alberta tribes such as the Blackfoot, Kainaiwa, Siksika, Peigan, Atsina, Cree, Tsuu T'ina, Slavey, Dene and Assiniboine settled. According to a 2011 Canadian census, nearly 117,000 'Albertans' indicated that they belonged to one of the First Nations. Alberta thus has the third largest First Nations population of Canada, after Ontario and British Columbia, living in its territory. About half of these Indians live in a reservation, the rest just live among the rest of the Canadian population. Many of these urban Indians live in the capital Edmonton, the city with the most Indians after Winnipeg. In addition, there are some 20,000 Indians who have not registered themselves in the official 'Indian Register'.

There are currently 46 First Nations of "Bands" in Alberta, below an overview:

First Nations Towns MapFirst Nations Towns MapPhoto: Indigenousand Northern Affairs Canada in the public domain

1. Athabasca Chipewyan17. Sawridge Band33. Kehewin Cree
2. Beaver18. Smith's Landing34. Louis Bull
3. Bigstone19. Sturgeon Lake Cree35. Montana
4. Chipewyan Prairie20. Sucker Creek36. O'Chiese
5. Dene Tha '21. Swan River37. Paul
6. Driftpile22. Tallcree38. Saddle Lake Cree
7. Duncan's23. Whitefish Lake39. Samson Cree
8. Fort McKay24. Woodland Cree40. Sunchild
9. Fort McMurray25. Alexander41. Whitefish Lake (Goodfish)
10. Horse Lake26. Alexis Nakota Sioux42. Blood
11. Kapawe'no27. Beaver lake43. Piikani
12. Little Red River Cree28. Cold Lake44. Siksika
13. Loon River29. Enoch Cree45. Stoney
14. Lubicon Lake30. Ermineskin Cree46. Tsuu T'ina
15. Mikisew Cree31. Frog Lake
16. Peerless Trout32. Heart Lake

Cree-IndianCree-IndianPhoto: Public domain


Canada has two official languages, English and French. French is the native language of 24% of the population, English of 63% of the population.
About 80% of Alberta's population is native English speaker. Various Chinese languages are spoken by about 3% of the population, German by about 2.6%, French by about 2% and Punjabi by about 1.1%. Languages spoken between 0.2 and 1% of the population include Tagalog, Ukrainian, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, Urdu, Korean, Hindi, Farsi, Portuguese and Hungarian. Dutch is still spoken by approximately 0.6% of the population. Mennonites often still speak Plattdeutsch, for example in the village of La Crèche in northern Alberta.

Population of Alberta by native languagePopulation of Alberta by native languagePhoto: RockyMtnGuy CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Cree, the most widely spoken Native American language in Canada, is an Algonquin (sub-family of about 40 Native American languages) language found in much of Canada and the US state of Montana. Cree is spoken by the Ayisiniwak, Canada's largest Native American population, and is an official language in Northwest Territories. Of the nine different Cree dialects, two are spoken in Alberta, in much of the province of Prairie-Cree and in the far northeast of the province of Bos-Cree.
In all, Alberta has eleven Native American and Inuit languages and more than 65 dialects. Some Native American languages are Blackfoot, Inuktitut, Ojibwe, Chipewyan, Dene, Sarcee and Stoney (Nakoda Sioux).

Road sign with text in English, French and Cree Road sign with text in English, French and CreePhoto: P199 CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Approx. 70 percent of Alberta's residents call themselves Christians, while nearly 24 percent of residents do not identify with any religion. The largest denominations are those of the Roman Catholics, the United Church of Canada, the Anglicans, the Lutherans, and the Baptists.

Alberta population by religion (2001)Alberta population by religion (2001)Photo: RockyMtnGuy CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

St. Joseph's Basilica, the only Roman Catholic basilica in Alberta St. Joseph's Basilica, the only Roman Catholic basilica in Alberta Photo: Public domain

Below is a more detailed overview of religions in Alberta

Protestantsapprox. 37.5%
Catholicsapprox. 25.8%
Eastern Orthodoxapprox. 1.5%
various Christiansapprox. 4.5%
Muslimsapprox. 1.8%
Buddhistsapprox. 1.2%
Sikhsapprox. 0.9%
Hindusapprox. 0.5%
Jewsapprox. 0.4%
various Eastern religionsapprox. 0.2%
Native American beliefsapprox. 0.3%
unbelieversapprox. 24%

Nearly 2 percent of the population is members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons. These Mormons are descended from pioneers from Utah, United States, who from 1887 under the direction of Charles Ora Card, the son-in-law of Mormon leader Brigham Young, traveled to Alberta and founded Canada's first Mormon settlement, Cardston. The first stake, a kind of deanery, outside the United States, had been that of Cardston in Alberta since 1895.

Charles Ora Card (1839-1906) ) Charles Ora Card (1839-1906)Photo: Publiek domein

Cardston Alberta TempleCardston Alberta TemplePhoto: Matthias Süßen CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Alberta also has large numbers of Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and Evangelical Christians. There are also considerable numbers of Mennonites and Hutterites, belonging to the Anabaptist sects. There are also many Jehovah's Witnesses and Reformed Christians, as well as a significant population of Seventh-day Adventists in and around Lacombe, where Canadian University College is located. Alberta is also home to several Eastern European churches as a result of the many Eastern European immigrants, including the Ukraine Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Edmonton and the Ukraine Orthodox Diocese of Edmonton and Western Canada. Southern Alberta is home to several hundred Doukhobors, a spiritual Christian group, originally from Russia, but in fact expelled from their country at the end of the 19th century. Most of the inhabitants of northern La Crêare Mennonites, who settled in this area in the 1930s.

Sikh Temple Manning Drive in Edmonton, Alberta Sikh-tempel Manning Drive in Edmonton, AlbertaPhoto: Public domain

Many Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims have made Alberta their home. For example, one of Canada's largest Sikh temples is located just outside Edmonton. Approx. 95% of the Jews in Alberta live in Calgary and the capital Edmonton. Canada's oldest mosque (1938), Al-Rashid Mosque, is located in Edmonton;the largest mosque, the Baitun Nur mosque, is in Calgary.

Beth Israel Synagogue in Edmonton, AlbertaBeth Israel synagogue in Edmonton, AlbertaPhoto: Public domain

Alberta's oldest church is St. Paul's Anglican Church in Fort Chipewyan, located in northeastern Alberta between Wood Buffalo National Park and Lake Athabasca.

 St. Paul's Anglican Church St. Paul's Anglican ChurchPhoto: WilliowGoodf CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Noteworthy, especially in the United States, but also in Canada, are the so-called cowboy churches. Cowboy churches are local Christian churches, often located in the countryside in barns or metal buildings. Sometimes a rodeo arena is present and a country gospel band plays during the simple services. Cowboy churches can be found in Alberta along the Cowboy Trail, a 700 km long route that runs on Highway 22 between the Rocky Mountains and the prairies. The route runs from Cardston in far south Alberta to Mayerthorpe, just northwest of Edmonton.

Typical example of a cowboy church (Texas, United States) Typical example of a cowboy churchPhoto: Billy Hathorn CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Governance and politics

Canada ParliamentCanada ParliamentPhoto: Saffron Blaze CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Canada's ten provinces and three territories are part of a federation whose form of government is parliamentary democracy. Canada is an independent constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth and, according to the British (Westminster) model, comprises a Crown, a Senate and a House of Commons. Canada's ten provinces enjoy far-reaching self-government, particularly in the fields of culture, health, education and the exploitation of mineral resources. The provincial parliaments only have a House of Representatives, not a Senate.
The British King or Queen is represented by a Governor-General appointed for 5-7 years, assisted by a cabinet, the so-called ‘privy council’ . The Governor General appoints and dismisses ministers and members of the federal Supreme Court and enacts legislation, has the right to consult in the cabinet and delivers the speech from the throne.
The largest political party provides the prime minister and the ministers, who are among parliament. The prime minister is the most important person for the administration of the country. Under electoral law, the federal parliament has 26 representatives from Alberta, the Senate has six representatives from Alberta.

Historically, since the first elections in 1905, Alberta has had long-held parliaments with large majority. In those first elections, the Liberals beat Alberta's first Prime Minister, Alexander C. Rutherford. In 1979 the Progressive Conservatives won 74 out of 79 seats, in 2012 the same party won 61 out of 87 seats.

The Liberal Party formed the first government of Alberta from 1905-1921. They were succeeded in 1921 by the United Farmers of Alberta who remained in power until 1935. This was followed by a long reign of the Social Credit Party until 1971 and from then on it was the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta that ruled Alberta.

The Alberta Parliament consists of one chamber, the Legislative Assembly, which has 87 members. The English crown in Alberta is represented by a Lieutenant Governor, a purely ceremonial position. The Lieutenant Governor is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada. The provincial parliament, based in the capital Edmonton, is headed by the prime minister, normally a member of parliament who elects the members of his cabinet from that same parliament.
The province of Alberta is divided into 87 constituencies or 'ridings'. Each constituency has a number of candidates from different political parties. The candidate in each constituency with the most votes represents that constituency in the Provincial Assembly of Alberta. The leader of the political party with the most seats in parliament becomes the Prime Minister of Alberta. The prime minister and the ministers form the provincial government.

Calgary constituencies or ridingsCalgary constituencies or ridingsPhoto: TastyCakes CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Every five years there is a vote for a new provincial government, but that can of course also be done earlier. If a seat becomes vacant in parliament before the new elections, an intermediate election will be organized in the constituency where the dropped member of parliament comes from. The winner of that election will then take his or her place until the next general election.
The current Assembly has 72 Conservatives, 9 Liberals and 2 members of the NDP.

Provincial Government Building and also Alberta's oldest historic building 'Alberta Legislature Building' Provincial Government Building and also Alberta's oldest historic building 'Alberta Legislature Building' Photo: Public domain

There are some in Albertasmall, but growing, separatist movements that want to separate the province, alone or with the other western provinces, from Canada. Reasons for this include the 'Western Alienation' that many people feel. An important part of the population thinks that the Federal government in Ottawa does not or barely represents the interests of the province(s) and that they are only a source of tax money while all political attention is focused on the larger provinces. Ontarioand Quebec. Canada's current political situation is described in the section history.

Administrative division

Alberta Government HouseAlberta Government HousePhoto: Public domain

Since 1999, federated Canada (founded July 1, 1867) has consisted of ten provinces and three 'territories'. Each province has a high degree of autonomy, which is reflected, among other things, in the power to regulate local government itself. Furthermore, it is largely independent in areas such as prison, education, health care and taxation. The Crown is represented in each of the provinces by a Lieutenant Governor.

province/'territory'capitalareanumber of inhabitants
AlbertaEdmonton661,848 km2approx. 4,025,000
British ColumbiaVictoria944,374 km2approx. 4,500,000
ManitobaWinnipeg647,797 km2approx. 1,200,000
New BrunswickFredericton72,908 km2approx. 755,000
Newfoundland&LabradorSt. John's405,212 km2approx. 520,000
Northwest TerritoriesYellowknife1,346,106 km2approx. 43,000
Nova ScotiaHalifax55,283 km2approx. 930,000
NunavutIqaluit2,038,722 km2approx. 32,000
OntarioToronto1,076,395 km2approx. 13,000,000
Prince Edward IslandCharlottetown5,660 km2approx. 142,000
QuébecQuébec-City1,542,056 km2approx. 7,930,000
SaskatchewanRegina651,900 km2approx. 1,040,000
Yukon TerritoryWhitehorse482,443 km2approx. 35,000

University education in Alberta

' Old arts' building on the campus of the University of Alberta ' Old arts' building on the campus of the University of Alberta Photo: Public domain

Located in the capital Edmonton, the University of Alberta, founded in 1908 and with 18 faculties, is Canada's oldest and largest university. Once part of the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary became independent in 1966 and is now Alberta's second largest university. Athabasca University, which focuses on long-distance education and has 37,000 students, and the University of Lethbridge, are located in the cities of the same name.
In 2009, Mount Royal University, Calgary's second public university, was opened in the same year a second university, MacEwan University, was also opened in Edmonton. Alberta now has six universities.

Rodeos in Alberta

Of all Canadian provinces, Alberta is the province that still keeps the cowboy culture high in its saddle. Summer and fall are the time of year for rodeos in Alberta. Rodeos are held in many towns and cities, large stadiums are used for professional cowboys, who can make a lot of money with them. Rodeos originated in the 16th century in Mexico and slowly conquered all of North America.
The six different traditional parts of a rodeo are riding a wild horse with (saddle bronc riding) and bareback riding, riding a bull (bull riding), catching a bull calf with a lasso (steer wrestling) and catching a calf and tying its legs (tie-down roping). Spectacular are the women's barrel race and a covered wagon race (chuckwagon racing).
Calgary's first professional rodeo took place in 1912, and the Calgary Stampede was held every year from 1923, 10 days in July which is accompanied by parades, manifestations, fairs, agricultural exhibitions and fireworks. This rodeo festival attracts more than 1 million paying visitors annually.

Riding a bull on the Calgary StampedeRiding a bull on the Calgary StampedePhoto: Cszmurlo CC 2.5 Generic no changes made



Alberta Oil and Gas Drilling RigAlberta Oil and Gas Drilling RigPhoto: Public domain

Mainly due to oil production and trade, but also still from agriculture, forestry and ranching, Alberta has the strongest economy of all Canadian provinces, but a slightly higher unemployment rate than in the whole of Canada in 2018. 6,5% to 6.0%. Alberta has always had an export-oriented economy, from fur, wheat and meat to oil and gas. In July 2018, it was announced that nearly 27,000 new jobs had been created in Alberta in twelve months.
Although Alberta continues to hold significant interests across all economic sectors, the province's politics and culture has been closely associated with fossil energy production, especially oil and gas, since the 1940s. In 1947 a large oil field was found near Edmonton, which was immediately declared the 'Oil capital of Canada'. It was not the first oil discovery in Alberta, but this time the field was large enough to be commercially exploited, given the growing demand for oil in the United States. Income from oil and gas extraction has boosted Alberta's economic development and prosperity ever since, and its economic spin-offs include the petrochemical industry and pipeline construction.
A comparison with the somewhat less neighboring provinces of Mantitoba and Saskatchewan with oil is a good example of the importance of the presence of oil. Alberta was the least populated province of the three prairie provinces in the early 20th century, but now has more than three times the population of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Approx. 300,000 people work in the oil and gas related industry. In the course of 2014, the price of crude oil plummeted by as much as 50%. The expectations were that this situation would continue for a long time, with major consequences for the economies of both Canada and Alberta. In this situation, the economy of the oil-consuming provinces grew mainly due to the low oil price, new jobs and investments also grew in those provinces at the expense of Alberta.

Abandoned grain silo in Farrow, Southern AlbertaAbandoned grain silo in Farrow, Southern AlbertaPhoto: Hero122 at english wikipedia CC 3.0 no changes made

Alberta has a small internal market and is relatively remote from major world markets, despite good transport links to the rest of Canada and south to the United States. Alberta is hemmed in and separated by a series of mountain ranges from the closest outlet to the Pacific Ocean, and by the Canadian Shield from ports at Lakehead and Hudson Bay. The distance from these ports to the major populations and markets in Europe and Asia;is (ten) thousands of kilometers. North America's largest population clusters (Boston-Washington, San Francisco-San Diego, Chicago-Pittsburgh, and Quebec City-Windsor) are all thousands of miles from Alberta. Partly for this reason, Alberta has never had many industries traditionally associated with the onset of the Industrial Revolution that required a lot of labor, large internal markets, or convenient transportation. Examples include textiles, metallurgy and transport-related (cars, ships, trains) manufacturing industry.

Grain farm northwest of Edmonton, CanadaGrain farm northwest of Edmonton, CanadaPhoto: Public domain


Agriculture has been very important to Alberta's economy since about 1870, although the climate is not cooperative in all seasons and there are extreme differences. Fertile soils are mainly located in the southern half of the province (excluding the mountains) and in certain areas in the north. It is remarkable that as far north as Alberta there is nowhere more extensive agriculture than elsewhere in North America, above Peace River and above 55°C. latitude north.
In general, northern Alberta and areas along the Rocky Mountains are forested land and forestry is more important than agriculture. Agriculture is divided into arable farming in the east, ranching in the west and a combination of the two sectors in Central Alberta and in the northern parkland.

Alberta Wheat FieldsAlberta Wheat FieldsPhoto: Mhalifu CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Wheat is still Alberta's most important agricultural commodity, alongside canola oil, barley, rye and sugar beets. More than 90% of the agricultural land is used for growing grain. The total area of agricultural land is approximately 21 million hectares and there are approximately 50,000 farms. Most of Canada's beekeepers are located in Alberta. Falher in Central Alberta, with nearly 50,000 beehives and a production of 4.5 million pounds of honey, is also known as the 'Honey Capital of Canada'.

Alberta CattleAlberta CattlePhoto: WinterE229 WinterforceMedia in the public domain


Alberta has about 3 million head of cattle, and meat is exported all over the world. Approx. half of Canadian meat is produced in Alberta, including much buffalo meat. Cattle farms are generally very impressive, with more than 40,000 head of cattle on one farm is no exception. Most dairies are owned by Dutch or Canadians of Dutch descent.
Several biotechnology companies are located near the University of Calgary.

Salt is extracted on Alberta's eastern border, near the town of Lindbergh. The salt is a relic of the sea that once covered Alberta.

According to Statistics Canada, Albertans (families of two or more people) had the highest average income in 2012 in all of Canada, $ 92,300 per year, followed by Saskatchewan at $ 77,300, Ontario at $ 73,700, British Columbia at $ 72,300 and Canada as entirely $ 71,700.

Oil and Minerals

 Athabasca Oil Sands in Northeast Alberta Athabasca Oil Sands in Northeast Alberta Photo: NormanEinstein in the public domain

Oil and gas fields are found along an axis that cuts across Alberta from northwest to southeast. Alberta is Canada's largest producer of conventional mineral oil, synthetic oil and natural gas and also one of the world's largest producers and exporters of natural gas.
Tar sands are located in the Northeast, particularly around Fort McMurray, which makes it one of the fastest growing cities of Canada. The Athabasca Oil Sands there, according to scientists, have a stockpile of about 27 billion tons of bitumen, viscous oil mixed with sand, after Saudi Arabia, the largest stock of oil in the world. In total, in what has been called the largest open mine in the world, approximately 1.5 million barrels are now produced each year, with the expectation that by 2020 there will be three million per day. At the end of the Second World War Alberta had about 500 oil wells, by 1960 there were already about 10,000. Oil extraction from tar sands has long been under fire from environmental organizations and from the indigenous people, because under Canadian law these lands belong to indigenous people. Environmental organizations are opposed because of serious environmental and health impacts, including an increase in autoimmune diseases and mass deaths of wild animals. But Alberta made about 4.4 billion Canadian dollars on the tar sands in 2013, so the people who make a lot of money from it see things completely differently, the financial interests are far too big.
Coal has been mined in Alberta since the late 19th century, and around 1,800 mines have been involved since then. Approx. 65% of all coal reserves in Canada are in Alberta, which is mainly used to generate electricity.

TransCanadan pipelineTransCanadan pipelinePhoto: Darren Baker in the public domain


Due to its (relatively) economically isolated location, Alberta is highly dependent on excellent transportation options, both to other provinces in Canada and to the rest of the world. Alberta is currently served by two transcontinental railways (owners are the Canadian National Railway Company and Canadian Pacific Railway respectively), by three major highway links to the Pacific Ocean (the Trans-Canada via Kicking Horse Pass, the Yellowhead via Yellowhead Pass and the Crowsnest via Crowsnest Pass), and Interstate 15 to the United States, as well as two international airports (Calgary International Airport and Edmonton International Airport). Other major airports include Calgary/Springbank Airport, Coutts/Ross International Airport, Lethbridge County Airport and Del Bonita/Whetstone International Airport. Alberta is also connected to a number of pipeline systems, TransCanada (gas) to Eastern Canada, Northern Border Pipeline (gas), Alliance Pipeline (gas) and Enbridge Pipeline System (oil) to the eastern United States, Gas Transmission Northwest (gas) and Northwest Pipeline (gas) to the western United States.

Calgary in CanadaCalgary in CanadaPhoto: Cszmulo CC 3.0 Unported no changes made


Ever since the advent of the first agricultural settlements, the population of Alberta has concentrated in the forest and grassland of the parkland that runs along the North Saskatchewan River from Lloydminster to Edmonton and along the hills of the Rocky Mountains to Calgary the south of the province.
The regions around Calgary and Edmonton are Alberta's largest metropolitan regions and one of the most densely populated areas in Canada. From north to south this region measures about 400 km and about 75% of the population of Alberta lives here. Calgary and Edmonton are close to each other by Western Canadian standards, but far from other metropolitan areas around Vancouver and Winnipeg. The economic profile between Calgary and Edmonton differs somewhat. Calgary is important as the location of regional and national headquarters for gas and oil explorers and drilling companies.

Edmonton, Canada's northernmost major city, focuses more on bringing in civil servants, universities and hospitals as large employers, in addition to many manufacturing industries related to oil and gas. Edmonton, for example, also owns the West Edmonton Mall, with over 800 stores and department stores on an area of 483,000 m2, still one of the largest shopping centers in the world. Opened since 1981, the Mall also houses more than a hundred eateries, 20,000 parking spaces, the largest indoor swimming pool in the world, the largest indoor lake in the world (122 meters long) and the possibility to bungee jump under cover.

'River' in the West Edmonton Mall'River' in the West Edmonton MallPhoto: GoToVan CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Alberta has been a tourist attraction since the early 1900s with outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking and camping. Over the years, this added shopping (West Edmonton Mall), the Calgary Stampede, outdoor festivals, sports competitions (Commonwealth Games, Winter Olympics). Alberta's great wildlife, especially its many national and state parks, attracts more than three million tourists a year. The cities of Calgary and Edmonton alone attract more than four million tourists annually. Most tourists come from Canada itself and the United States. Drumheller, 'Dinosaur Capital of the World', attracts about 700,000 tourists a year.

Diamonds were first found in Alberta in 1958, but real diamond mines have not opened since then.
In the Edmonton area, oil and gas related facilities and supplies are being made on a large scale.
After the discovery of oil and gas, the food industry has slowly moved from Calgary and Edmonton to smaller places like Brooks, just east of Calgary, where another large meat processing company is located.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Alberta Rocky MountainsAlberta Rocky MountainsPhoto: Adam Jones CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Alberta is a Canadian mountain province. The Canadian Rocky Mountains form Alberta's western border and rise from the prairie like a fortress. The peaks, glaciers, rivers and lakes have already posed for millions of postcards, and pictorial mountain villages like Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise are all located in Alberta territory. Banff National Park, Canada's first national park, and Jasper National Park are home to large wild mammals such as grizzly bear, moose, mountain goat and wapiti, but are also popular areas for skiers, cyclists and hikers.

Alberta Lake Louise Ski AreaAlberta Lake Louise Ski AreaPhoto: Chensiyuan CC 4.0 International no changes made

Lake Louise Ski Area is one of North America's largest winter sports areas with 17km of pistes and over 130 runs. Other beautiful winter sports areas in Alberta are Banff Mount Norquay, Banff Sunshine Village and Jasper Marmot Basin. In addition to skiing, Alberta has several other ways to enjoy snow and ice, including icewalking past columns of ice and frozen waterfalls in Johnston Canyon near Banff and Maligne Canyon near Jasper, heli snowshoeing, ice skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, dog sledding, cross-country, ice climbing, snow tubing, torchlight skiing and relaxing in warm pools with mineral water.

But the cities of Alberta are also not to be sneezed at. The provincial capital of Edmonton has one of Western Canada's most special neighborhoods, Old Strathcona, as well as the largest shopping center in the world, the West Edmonton Mall. The southern cowboy and oil city of Calgary is the fastest growing city in North America and hosts the annual Calgary Stampede, a 10-day rodeo festival that has was held for the first time in 1912.

Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, AlbertaRoyal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, AlbertaPhoto: Carolyn Miarel CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The town of Drumheller, located in 'Dinosaur Valley', is called the 'Dinosaur Capital of the World'. Founded in 1985, the Royal Tyrrell Museum showcases the prehistoric world and paleontology with dozens of lifelike dinosaur models. The first dinosaur find was 1884 by James B. Tyrrell.
The 'hoodoos', mushroom-shaped 5-7 meter high rock formations, are also a tourist attraction.

Hoodoos near Drumheller, AlbertaHoodoos near Drumheller, AlbertaPhoto: Gorgo in the public domain

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Lonely Planet

Hempstead, Andrew / Calgary
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Hempstead, Andrew / Edmonton & Northern Alberta
Avalon Travel

Pashby, Christie / Frommer's Alberta

Struijk, Aad / West-Canada

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Veldt, Marc / Canada

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Last updated October 2021
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