A Brief Look at the Varied, Beautiful Canadian Provinces

Learn about This Country's Provinces and Territories

Sun rises above mountain lake, after snowfall
••• Canada is home to ten diverse provinces. Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images

There are 10 Canadian provinces, with three territories to the north.  The provinces are, in alphabetical order: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.

The difference between a province and a territory has to do with their governance. Basically, the territories have delegated powers under the authority of the Parliament of Canada; they are grouped together and ruled by the federal government. The provinces, on the other hand, exercise constitutional powers in their own right. This imbalance of power is gradually being rectified, with local decision-making powers being granted to the territories. 

Each province and territory has its own unique draw for visitors and tourism organizations to facilitate your trip. All have plenty of outdoor adventure by way of camping, hiking trails, lakes, and other natural...MORE phenomena. Here are the 10 provinces in Canada, listed from west to east, followed by the territories.

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    British Columbia

    BC map

    British Columbia is the country's most western province. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean, B.C., as it is more commonly known, has some of the most temperate locations in the country, coastal islands, and a mountainous interior. B.C.'s diverse geography draws adventure seekers including skiers, kayakers, and mountain bikers from around the world. 

    The major cities and towns are Victoria (provincial capital), Vancouver, Whistler, and Kelowna, and B.C. is best known for the Okanagan wine region, skiing, fishing, whale watching, golf, and other outdoor adventures.

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    Alberta map

    Alberta is one of Canada's three prairie provinces. It shares the Canadian Rocky Mountain range with its western B.C. neighbor and is therefore famous as a ski and hiking destination. Alberta is the primary supply and service hub for Canada's crude oil industry, Athabasca oil sands, and other northern resource industries. 

    Alberta is famous for hosting the Calgary Stampede, which showcases the province's distinct cowboy culture, and is also known for the Edmonton Folk Festival, the Edmonton Mall, the Rocky Mountains, and the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Its major cities are Edmonton (provincial capital), Calgary, Banff, and Jasper.​

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    Saskathewan map

    Saskatchewan is the middle prairie province, landlocked between the other two, Alberta and Manitoba. The majority of Saskatchewan's population live in the southern half of the province, especially in Saskatoon and Regina. The province's major industry is agriculture, followed by mining, oil, and natural gas production. 

    The major cities are Regina (provincial capital), Saskatoon, and Prince Albert, and Saskatchewan is best known for fishing, hunting, and other outdoor adventures. ​

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    Manitoba is the most easterly prairie province and longitudinal center of Canada. Like Saskatchewan, a majority of the population lives in the southern region. Manitoba's north comprises Canadian Shield rock and arctic tundra and is largely uninhabited. For more than 6,000 years, the province has been home to Aboriginal and Métis people, who continue to exert a great cultural influence. The major cities are Winnipeg (provincial capital) and Churchill. Manitoba is best known for being the polar bear capital of the world ​and for its two festivals Le Festival du Voyageur (large winter festival) and Folklorama (food and cultural festival).

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  • 05 of 13
    Ontario map

    Ontario is Canada's most populous province by a long shot comprising 40 percent of the country's total population. It is also home to the federal capital of Ottawa and the unofficial financial capital of Toronto. The majority of Ontario residents live in the southern part of the province near Toronto, along with Ottawa, Niagara Falls, and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

    Ontario is best known for Algonquin Park, the CN Tower, Niagara wine region, Bruce Trail, and the many forests and lakes.

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    Quebec map

    Quebec is the second most populous Canadian province and known primarily for its French-speaking population, culture, and heritage. It is the country's largest province by land area. Most residents live along and near the St. Lawrence River, especially in and between Montreal and Quebec City, the two major cities. Attractions for residents and visitors are ​Old Montreal and the Plains of Abraham (a historic area), as well as excellent skiing resorts. 

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    New Brunswick

    New Brunswick map

    New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces, which form a tiny water-bound cluster on the east coast, just below Quebec and bordering the state of Maine in the U.S. The major cities are Fredericton (provincial capital), Moncton, and St. John. New Brunswick's appeal is due to the Bay of Fundy, Appalachian Range, scenic coastline, and numerous lighthouses.

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    Nova Scotia

    Nova Scotia map

    Although the second smallest province, Nova Scotia is the second most densely populated in the country. It is one of the three Maritime provinces and part of what forms Atlantic Canada. The major cities are Halifax (provincial capital), Sydney, Wolfville, and Peggy's Cove. People come to Nova Scotia for the Cabot Trail and other scenic drives, its Celtic culture, the Fortress of Louisbourg, fresh lobster dinners, the vast coastline, and Annapolis Valley, located ​in the western part of the peninsula.

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    Prince Edward Island

    Prince Edward Island map

    The last of the three Maritime provinces, Prince Edward Island is actually made up of several islands (232 to be exact), the largest having the same name. It is the smallest province in Canada, measured by both land size and population. Its major city is Charlottetown (provincial capital), and P.E.I. (as it is referred to) is best known for the novel Anne of Green Gables, which takes place there, as well as the delicious mussels found in the surrounding waters.

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    Newfoundland and Labrador

    The most easterly province in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador sits on the Atlantic and is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland Labrador (hence the name).  Over 90 percent of the population lives in Newfoundland and the surrounding islands. Its major city is St. John's (provincial capital), and the province is best known for the friendliness of the residents, Gros Morne National Park, its icebergs, and whale watching.

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    Yukon map

    The smallest of the three territories, Yukon (also known as "the Yukon") is the most westerly territory, bordering Alaska. People visit the Yukon to see the Northern lights, the historic Klondike Gold Rush locations, Mount Logan (highest mountain in Canada) in Kluane National Park, the midnight sun (when the sun is visible at midnight), and try dog sledding. The capital is Whitehorse, which is in the southern part of the territory and Yukon's only city. The portion of the Arctic coast has a tundra climate.

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    Northwest Territories

    Northwest Territories map

    Northwest Territories is the most populous of the three and borders the other two territories in—as you would expect—the northwest part of the country. The capital is Yellowknife, and this territory is best known for the Northern lights, the midnight sun, the Nahanni River, and outdoor adventure.

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    Nunavut map

    Nunavut is the largest and most northern territory of Canada. It is the newest territory as well, having been separated from Northwest Territories in 1999. One of the world's most remote locations, it has the second smallest population in Canada. The capital is Iqaluit and adventurers travel here to watch the narwhals, see the polar bears, and explore this unchartered territory.