Alberta
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Latin: Fortis et liber
("Strong and free")
AB
Canadian Provinces and Territories
Capital Edmonton
Largest city Calgary
Largest metro Calgary Region
Official languages English
Demonym Albertan
Government
Type Constitutional monarchy
Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell
Premier Rachel Notley (NDP)
Legislature Legislative Assembly of Alberta
Federal representation (in Canadian Parliament)
House seats 34 of 308 (11%)
Senate seats 6 of 105 (5.7%)
Confederation September 1, 1905 (split from Northwest Territories) (11th)
Area  Ranked 6th
Total 661,848 km2 (255,541 sq mi)
Land 640,081 km2 (247,137 sq mi)
Water (%) 19,531 km2 (7,541 sq mi) (3%)
Proportion of Canada 6.6% of 9,984,670 km2
Population  Ranked 4th
Total (2011) 3,645,257
Density (2011) 5.69/km2 (14.7/sq mi)
GDP  Ranked 3rd
Total (2015) C$326.433 billion
Per capita C$78,100 (2nd)
Abbreviations
Postal AB
ISO 3166-2 CA-AB
Time zone Mountain: UTC-7, (DST−6)
Postal code prefix T
Flower Wild Rose.svg Wild rose
Tree Pinus contorta in the Oregon Cascades.JPG Lodgepole pine
Bird Horned1b.jpg Great horned owl
Website www.alberta.ca
Rankings include all provinces and territories

Alberta (/ælˈbɜːrtə/) is a western province of Canada. With an estimated population of 4,196,457 as of July 1, 2015, it is Canada's fourth-most populous province and the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces. Its area is about 660,000 square kilometres (250,000 sq mi). Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905. The premier has been Rachel Notley since May 2015.

Alberta is bounded by the provinces of British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east, the Northwest Territories to the north, and the U.S. state of Montana to the south. Alberta is one of three Canadian provinces and territories to border only a single U.S. state and one of only two landlocked provinces. It has a predominantly humid continental climate, with stark contrasts over a year but seasonal temperature average swings are smaller than to areas further east, due to winters being warmed by occasional chinook winds bringing sudden warming.

Alberta's capital, Edmonton, is near the geographic centre of the province and is the primary supply and service hub for Canada's crude oil, the Athabasca oil sands and other northern resource industries.

About 290 km (180 mi) south of the capital is Calgary, the largest city in Alberta. Calgary and Edmonton centre Alberta's two census metropolitan areas, both of which have populations exceeding one million, while the province has 16 census agglomerations. Tourist destinations in the province include Banff, Canmore, Drumheller, Jasper and Sylvan Lake.

Etymology

Alberta is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848–1939), the fourth daughter of Victoria, Queen of Canada, and Albert, Prince Consort. Princess Louise was the wife of John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne, Governor General of Canada (1878–83). Lake Louise and Mount Alberta were also named in her honour.

Geography

Alberta Topo Labeled 90 dpi
Topographic map of Alberta

Alberta, with an area of 661,848 km2 (255,500 sq mi), is the fourth largest province after Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. To the south, the province borders on the 49th parallel north, separating it from the US state of Montana, while on the north the 60th parallel north divides it from the Northwest Territories. To the east, the 110th meridian west separates it from the province of Saskatchewan, while on the west its boundary with British Columbia follows the 120th meridian west south from the Northwest Territories at 60°N until it reaches the Continental Divide at the Rocky Mountains, and from that point follows the line of peaks marking the Continental Divide in a generally southeasterly direction until it reaches the Montana border at 49°N.

The province extends 1,223 km (760 mi) north to south and 660 km (410 mi) east to west at its maximum width. Its highest point is 3,747 m (12,293 ft) at the summit of Mount Columbia in the Rocky Mountains along the southwest border while its lowest point is 152 m (499 ft) on the Slave River in Wood Buffalo National Park in the northeast.

With the exception of the semi-arid steppe of the south-eastern section, the province has adequate water resources. There are numerous rivers and lakes used for swimming, fishing and a range of water sports. There are three large lakes, Lake Claire (1,436 km2 (554 sq mi)) in Wood Buffalo National Park, Lesser Slave Lake (1,168 km2 (451 sq mi)), and Lake Athabasca (7,898 square kilometres (3,049 sq mi)) which lies in both Alberta and Saskatchewan. The longest river in the province is the Athabasca River which travels 1,538 km (956 mi) from the Columbia Icefield in the Rocky Mountains to Lake Athabasca. The largest river is the Peace River with an average flow of 2161 m3/s. The Peace River originates in the Rocky Mountains of northern British Columbia and flows through northern Alberta and into the Slave River, a tributary of the Mackenzie River.

Moraine Lake 17092005
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

Alberta's capital city, Edmonton, is located approximately in the geographic centre of the province. It is the most northerly major city in Canada, and serves as a gateway and hub for resource development in northern Canada. The region, with its proximity to Canada's largest oil fields, has most of western Canada's oil refinery capacity. Calgary is located approximately 280 km (170 mi) south of Edmonton and 240 km (150 mi) north of Montana, surrounded by extensive ranching country. Almost 75% of the province's population lives in the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor. The land grant policy to the railroads served as a means to populate the province in its early years.

Most of the northern half of the province is boreal forest, while the Rocky Mountains along the southwestern boundary are largely forested (see Alberta Mountain forests and Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests). The southern quarter of the province is prairie, ranging from shortgrass prairie in the southeastern corner to mixed grass prairie in an arc to the west and north of it. The central aspen parkland region extending in a broad arc between the prairies and the forests, from Calgary, north to Edmonton, and then east to Lloydminster, contains the most fertile soil in the province and most of the population. Much of the unforested part of Alberta is given over either to grain or to dairy farming, with mixed farming more common in the north and centre, while ranching and irrigated agriculture predominate in the south.

The Alberta badlands are located in southeastern Alberta, where the Red Deer River crosses the flat prairie and farmland, and features deep canyons and striking landforms. Dinosaur Provincial Park, near Brooks, Alberta, showcases the badlands terrain, desert flora, and remnants from Alberta's past when dinosaurs roamed the then lush landscape.

Climate

Banff Trail 2
Winter scene at Banff Trail station in Calgary

Alberta has a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The province is open to cold arctic weather systems from the north, which often produce extremely cold conditions in winter. As the fronts between the air masses shift north and south across Alberta, the temperature can change rapidly. Arctic air masses in the winter produce extreme minimum temperatures varying from −54 °C (−65 °F) in northern Alberta to −46 °C (−51 °F) in southern Alberta, although temperatures at these extremes are rare. In the summer, continental air masses have produced record maximum temperatures from 32 °C (90 °F) in the mountains to over 40 °C (104 °F) in southeastern Alberta.

Prairie Alberta
Prairie in Alberta

Alberta extends for over 1,200 km (750 mi) from north to south; its climate, therefore, varies considerably. Average high temperatures in January range from 0 °C (32 °F) in the southwest to −24 °C (−11 °F) in the far north. The climate is also influenced by the presence of the Rocky Mountains to the southwest, which disrupt the flow of the prevailing westerly winds and cause them to drop most of their moisture on the western slopes of the mountain ranges before reaching the province, casting a rain shadow over much of Alberta. The northerly location and isolation from the weather systems of the Pacific Ocean cause Alberta to have a dry climate with little moderation from the ocean. Annual precipitation ranges from 300 mm (12 in) in the southeast to 450 mm (18 in) in the north, except in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where total precipitation including snowfall can reach 600 mm (24 in) annually. The province is the namesake of the Alberta clipper, a type of intense, fast-moving winter storm that generally forms over or near the province and pushed with great speed by the continental polar jetstream descends over the rest of Southern Canada and the northern tier of the United States.

May 2011 Wildfires in Alberta, Canada
Satellite image of wildfires in Alberta

In the summer, the average daytime temperatures range from around 21 °C (70 °F) in the Rocky Mountain valleys and far north, up to around 28 °C (82 °F) in the dry prairie of the southeast. The northern and western parts of the province experience higher rainfall and lower evaporation rates caused by cooler summer temperatures. The south and east-central portions are prone to drought-like conditions sometimes persisting for several years, although even these areas can receive heavy precipitation and sometimes resulting in flooding.

Alberta is a sunny province. Annual bright sunshine totals range between 1900 up to just under 2600 hours per year. Northern Alberta gets about 18 hours of daylight in the summer.

In southwestern Alberta, the cold winters are frequently interrupted by warm, dry chinook winds blowing from the mountains, which can propel temperatures upward from frigid conditions to well above the freezing point in a very short period. During one chinook recorded at Pincher Creek, temperatures soared from −19 to 22 °C (−2.2 to 72 °F) in just one hour. The region around Lethbridge has the most chinooks, averaging 30 to 35 chinook days per year. Calgary has a 56% chance of a white Christmas, while Edmonton has an 86% chance.

Northern Alberta is mostly covered by boreal forest and has a subarctic climate. The agricultural area of southern Alberta has a semi-arid steppe climate because the annual precipitation is less than the water that evaporates or is used by plants. The southeastern corner of Alberta, part of the Palliser Triangle, experiences greater summer heat and lower rainfall than the rest of the province, and as a result suffers frequent crop yield problems and occasional severe droughts. Western Alberta is protected by the mountains and enjoys the mild temperatures brought by winter chinook winds. Central and parts of northwestern Alberta in the Peace River region are largely aspen parkland, a biome transitional between prairie to the south and boreal forest to the north.

After Saskatchewan, Alberta experiences the most tornadoes in Canada with an average of 15 verified per year. Thunderstorms, some of them severe, are frequent in the summer, especially in central and southern Alberta. The region surrounding the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor is notable for having the highest frequency of hail in Canada, which is caused by orographic lifting from the nearby Rocky Mountains, enhancing the updraft/downdraft cycle necessary for the formation of hail.

Climate averages for communities in Alberta
Community Region July daily
maximum
January daily
maximum
Annual
precipitation
Plant
hardiness
zone
Medicine Hat Southern Alberta 28 °C (82 °F) −3 °C (27 °F) 323 millimetres (13 in) 4b
Brooks Southern Alberta 27 °C (81 °F) −4 °C (25 °F) 348 millimetres (14 in) 4a
Lethbridge Southern Alberta 26 °C (79 °F) 0 °C (32 °F) 380 millimetres (15 in) 4b
Fort McMurray Northern Alberta 24 °C (75 °F) −12 °C (10 °F) 419 millimetres (16 in) 3a
Wetaskiwin Central Alberta 24 °C (75 °F) −5 °C (23 °F) 497 millimetres (20 in) 3b
Edmonton Edmonton Capital Region 23 °C (73 °F) −6 °C (21 °F) 456 millimetres (18 in) 4a
Cold Lake Northern Alberta 23 °C (73 °F) −10 °C (14 °F) 421 millimetres (17 in) 3a
Camrose Central Alberta 23 °C (73 °F) −6 °C (21 °F) 438 millimetres (17 in) 3b
Fort Saskatchewan Edmonton Capital Region 23 °C (73 °F) −6 °C (21 °F) 455 millimetres (18 in) 3b
Lloydminster Central Alberta 23 °C (73 °F) −10 °C (14 °F) 409 millimetres (16 in) 3a
Red Deer Central Alberta 23 °C (73 °F) −5 °C (23 °F) 486 millimetres (19 in) 4a
Grande Prairie Northern Alberta 23 °C (73 °F) −8 °C (18 °F) 445 millimetres (18 in) 3b
Leduc Edmonton Capital Region 23 °C (73 °F) −6 °C (21 °F) 446 millimetres (18 in) 3b
Calgary Calgary Region 23 °C (73 °F) −2 °C (28 °F) 419 millimetres (16 in) 4a
Chestermere Calgary Region 23 °C (73 °F) −3 °C (27 °F) 412 millimetres (16 in) 3b
St. Albert Edmonton Capital Region 22 °C (72 °F) −6 °C (21 °F) 466 millimetres (18 in) 4a
Lacombe Central Alberta 22 °C (72 °F) −5 °C (23 °F) 446 millimetres (18 in) 3b

Ecology

Flora

In central and northern Alberta the arrival of spring is marked by the early flowering of the prairie crocus anemone; this member of the buttercup family has been recorded flowering as early as March, though April is the usual month for the general population. Other prairie flora known to flower early are the golden bean and wild rose. Members of the sunflower family blossom on the prairie in the summer months between July and September. The southern and east central parts of Alberta are covered by short prairie grass, which dries up as summer lengthens, to be replaced by hardy perennials such as the prairie coneflower, fleabane, and sage. Both yellow and white sweet clover can be found throughout the southern and central areas of the province.

The trees in the parkland region of the province grow in clumps and belts on the hillsides. These are largely deciduous, typically aspen, poplar, and willow. Many species of willow and other shrubs grow in virtually any terrain. On the north side of the North Saskatchewan River evergreen forests prevail for thousands of square kilometres. Aspen poplar, balsam poplar (or in some parts cottonwood), and paper birch are the primary large deciduous species. Conifers include jack pine, Rocky Mountain pine, lodgepole pine, both white and black spruce, and the deciduous conifer tamarack.

Fauna

Ovis canadensis 2
The bighorn sheep is Alberta's provincial animal

The four climatic regions (alpine, boreal forest, parkland, and prairie) of Alberta are home to many different species of animals. The south and central prairie was the land of the bison, commonly known as buffalo, its grasses providing pasture and breeding ground for millions of buffalo. The buffalo population was decimated during early settlement, but since then buffalo have made a comeback, living on farms and in parks all over Alberta.

Alberta is home to many large carnivores. Among them are the grizzly and black bears, which are found in the mountains and wooded regions. Smaller carnivores of the canine and feline families include coyotes, wolves, fox, lynx, bobcat and mountain lion (cougar).

Herbivorous animals are found throughout the province. Moose, mule deer, elk, and white-tail deer are found in the wooded regions, and pronghorn can be found in the prairies of southern Alberta. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats live in the Rocky Mountains. Rabbits, porcupines, skunks, squirrels and many species of rodents and reptiles live in every corner of the province. Alberta is home to only one variety of venomous snake, the prairie rattlesnake.

Mill woods edmonton waterfowl
Water birds in Edmonton

Central and northern Alberta and the region farther north is the nesting ground of many migratory birds. Vast numbers of ducks, geese, swans and pelicans arrive in Alberta every spring and nest on or near one of the hundreds of small lakes that dot northern Alberta. Eagles, hawks, owls and crows are plentiful, and a huge variety of smaller seed and insect-eating birds can be found. Alberta, like other temperate regions, is home to mosquitoes, flies, wasps, and bees. Rivers and lakes are populated with pike, walleye, whitefish, rainbow, speckled, brown trout, and sturgeon. Bull trout, native to the province, is the Alberta's provincial fish. Turtles are found in some water bodies in the southern part of the province. Frogs and salamanders are a few of the amphibians that make their homes in Alberta.

Alberta is the only province in Canada—as well as one of the few places in the world—that is free of Norwegian rats. Since the early 1950s, the Government of Alberta has operated a rat-control program, which has been so successful that only isolated instances of wild rat sightings are reported, usually of rats arriving in the province aboard trucks or by rail. In 2006, Alberta Agriculture reported zero findings of wild rats; the only rat interceptions have been domesticated rats that have been seized from their owners. It is illegal for individual Albertans to own or keep Norwegian rats of any description; the animals can only be kept in the province by zoos, universities and colleges, and recognized research institutions. In 2009, several rats were found and captured, in small pockets in southern Alberta, putting Alberta's rat-free status in jeopardy. A colony of rats were subsequently found in a landfill near Medicine Hat in 2012, and again in 2014.

Paleontology

Pachyrhinosaurus skull
Pachyrhinosaurus skull; large quantities of this genus are preserved in the Wapiti Formation

Alberta has one of the greatest diversities and abundances of Late Cretaceous dinosaur fossils in the world. Taxa are represented by complete fossil skeletons, isolated material, microvertebrate remains, and even mass graves. At least 38 dinosaur type specimens were collected in the province. The Foremost Formation, Oldman Formation and Dinosaur Park Formations collectively comprise the Judith River Group and are the most thoroughly studied dinosaur-bearing strata in Alberta.

Dinosaur-bearing strata are distributed widely throughout Alberta. The Dinosaur Provincial Park area contains outcrops of the Dinosaur Park Formation and Oldman Formation. In the central and southern regions of Alberta are intermittent Scollard Formation outcrops. In the Drumheller Valley and Edmonton regions there are exposed Horseshoe Canyon facies. Other formations have been recorded as well, like the Milk River and Foremost Formations. However, these latter two have a lower diversity of documented dinosaurs, primarily due to their lower total fossil quantity and neglect from collectors who are hindered by the isolation and scarcity of exposed outcrops. Their dinosaur fossils are primarily teeth recovered from microvertebrate fossil sites. Additional geologic formations that have produced only few fossils are the Belly River Group and St. Mary River Formations of the southwest and the northwestern Wapiti Formation. The Wapiti Formation contains two Pachyrhinosaurus bone beds that break its general trend of low productivity, however. The Bearpaw Formation represents strata deposited during a marine transgression. Dinosaurs are known from this Formation, but represent specimens washed out to sea or reworked from older sediments.

History

Alexander Rutherford
Alexander C. Rutherford, Alberta's first premier
Bow-river-banff-np
View from Morant's Curve beside the Bow Valley Parkway and the Bow River within Banff National Park

Paleo-Indians arrived in Alberta at least 10,000 years ago, toward the end of the last ice age. They are thought to have migrated from Siberia to Alaska on a land bridge across the Bering Strait and then possibly moved down the east side of the Rocky Mountains through Alberta to settle the Americas. Others may have migrated down the coast of British Columbia and then moved inland. Over time they differentiated into various First Nations peoples, including the Plains Indian tribes of southern Alberta such as those of the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Plains Cree, who generally lived by hunting buffalo (American bison), and the more northerly tribes such as the Woodland Cree and Chipewyan who hunted, trapped, and fished for a living.

After the British arrival in Canada, approximately half of the province of Alberta, south of the Athabasca River drainage, became part of Rupert's Land which consisted of all land drained by rivers flowing into Hudson Bay. This area was granted by Charles II of England to the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) in 1670, and rival fur trading companies were not allowed to trade in it. After the arrival of French Canadians in the west around 1731, they settled near fur trading posts, establishing communities such as Lac La Biche and Bonnyville. Fort La Jonquière was established near what is now Calgary in 1752.

The Athabasca River and the rivers north of it were not in HBC territory because they drained into the Arctic Ocean instead of Hudson Bay, and they were prime habitat for fur-bearing animals. The first explorer of the Athabasca region was Peter Pond, who learned of the Methye Portage, which allowed travel from southern rivers into the rivers north of Rupert's Land. Fur traders formed the North West Company (NWC) of Montreal to compete with the HBC in 1779. The NWC occupied the northern part of Alberta territory. Peter Pond built Fort Athabasca on Lac la Biche in 1778. Roderick Mackenzie built Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca ten years later in 1788. His cousin, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, followed the North Saskatchewan River to its northernmost point near Edmonton, then setting northward on foot, trekked to the Athabasca River, which he followed to Lake Athabasca. It was there he discovered the mighty outflow river which bears his name—the Mackenzie River—which he followed to its outlet in the Arctic Ocean. Returning to Lake Athabasca, he followed the Peace River upstream, eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean, and so he became the first European to cross the North American continent north of Mexico.

The extreme southernmost portion of Alberta was part of the French (and Spanish) territory of Louisiana, sold to the United States in 1803; in 1818, the portion of Louisiana north of the Forty-Ninth Parallel was ceded to Great Britain.

Fur trade expanded in the north, but bloody battles occurred between the rival HBC and NWC, and in 1821 the British government forced them to merge to stop the hostilities. The amalgamated Hudson's Bay Company dominated trade in Alberta until 1870, when the newly formed Canadian Government purchased Rupert's Land. Northern Alberta was included in the North-Western Territory until 1870, when it and Rupert's land became Canada's Northwest Territories.

The District of Alberta was created as part of the North-West Territories in 1882. As settlement increased, local representatives to the North-West Legislative Assembly were added. After a long campaign for autonomy, in 1905 the District of Alberta was enlarged and given provincial status, with the election of Alexander Cameron Rutherford as the first premier.

On June 21, 2013, during the 2013 Alberta floods Alberta experienced heavy rainfall that triggered catastrophic flooding throughout much of the southern half of the province along the Bow, Elbow, Highwood and Oldman rivers and tributaries. A dozen municipalities in Southern Alberta declared local states of emergency on June 21 as water levels rose and numerous communities were placed under evacuation orders.

In 2016, a wildfire resulted in the largest evacuation of residents in Alberta's history, as over 80,000 people were evacuated.

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1901 73,022 —    
1911 374,295 +412.6%
1921 588,454 +57.2%
1931 731,605 +24.3%
1941 796,169 +8.8%
1951 939,501 +18.0%
1956 1,123,116 +19.5%
1961 1,331,944 +18.6%
1966 1,463,203 +9.9%
1971 1,627,875 +11.3%
1976 1,838,035 +12.9%
1981 2,237,724 +21.7%
1986 2,365,830 +5.7%
1991 2,545,553 +7.6%
1996 2,696,826 +5.9%
2001 2,974,807 +10.3%
2006 3,290,350 +10.6%
2011 3,645,257 +10.8%
Alberta population
Alberta's population has grown steadily for over a century.

The 2011 census reported Alberta had a population of 3,645,257 living in 1,390,275 of its 1,505,007 total dwellings, a 10.8% change from its 2006 population of 3,290,350. With a land area of 640,081.87 km2 (247,136.99 sq mi), it had a population density of 5.7/km2 (15/sq mi) in 2011. Statistics Canada estimated the province to have a population of 4,196,457 in 2015.

Alberta has experienced a relatively high rate of growth in recent years, mainly because of its burgeoning economy. Between 2003 and 2004, the province had high birthrates (on par with some larger provinces such as British Columbia), relatively high immigration, and a high rate of interprovincial migration compared to other provinces.

About 81% of the population lives in urban areas and only about 19% in rural areas. The Calgary–Edmonton Corridor is the most urbanized area in the province and is one of the most densely populated areas of Canada. Many of Alberta's cities and towns have experienced very high rates of growth in recent history. Alberta's population rose from 73,022 in 1901 to 3,290,350 according to the 2006 census.

Alberta Population by Mother Tongue
English is the most common mother tongue of Albertans.

The 2006 census found that English, with 2,576,670 native speakers, was the most common mother tongue of Albertans, representing 79.99% of the population. The next most common mother tongues were Chinese with 97,275 native speakers (3.02%), followed by German with 84,505 native speakers (2.62%) and French with 61,225 (1.90%).

Other mother tongues include: Punjabi, with 36,320 native speakers (1.13%); Tagalog, with 29,740 (0.92%); Ukrainian, with 29,455 (0.91%); Spanish, with 29,125 (0.90%); Polish, with 21,990 (0.68%); Arabic, with 20,495 (0.64%); Dutch, with 19,980 (0.62%); and Vietnamese, with 19,350 (0.60%). The most common aboriginal language is Cree 17,215 (0.53%). Other common mother tongues include Italian with 13,095 speakers (0.41%); Urdu with 11,275 (0.35%); and Korean with 10,845 (0.33%); then Hindi 8,985 (0.28%); Persian 7,700 (0.24%); Portuguese 7,205 (0.22%); and Hungarian 6,770 (0.21%).
(Figures shown are for the number of single language responses and the percentage of total single-language responses.)

Alberta has considerable ethnic diversity. In line with the rest of Canada, many immigrants originated from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France, but large numbers also came from other parts of Europe, notably Germany, Ukraine and Scandinavia. According to Statistics Canada, Alberta is home to the second highest proportion (two percent) of Francophones in western Canada (after Manitoba). Despite this, relatively few Albertans claim French as their mother tongue. Many of Alberta's French-speaking residents live in the central and northwestern regions of the province.

As reported in the 2001 census, the Chinese represented nearly four percent of Alberta's population, and East Indians represented more than two percent. Both Edmonton and Calgary have historic Chinatowns, and Calgary has Canada's third largest Chinese community. The Chinese presence began with workers employed in the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s. Aboriginal Albertans make up approximately three percent of the population.

In the 2006 Canadian census, the most commonly reported ethnic origins among Albertans were: 885,825 English (27.2%); 679,705 German (20.9%); 667,405 Canadian (20.5%); 661,265 Scottish (20.3%); 539,160 Irish (16.6%); 388,210 French (11.9%); 332,180 Ukrainian (10.2%); 172,910 Dutch (5.3%); 170,935 Polish (5.2%); 169,355 North American Indian (5.2%); 144,585 Norwegian (4.4%); and 137,600 Chinese (4.2%). (Each person could choose as many ethnicities as were applicable.)

Amongst those of British origins, the Scots have had a particularly strong influence on place-names, with the names of many cities and towns including Calgary, Airdrie, Canmore, and Banff having Scottish origins.

Alberta is the third most diverse province in terms of visible minorities after British Columbia and Ontario with 13.9% of the population consisting of visible minorities. Nearly one-fourth of the populations of Calgary and Edmonton belong to a visible minority group.

Aboriginal Identity Peoples make up 5.8% of the population, about half of whom consist of North American Indians and the other half are Metis. There are also small number of Inuit people in Alberta. The number of Aboriginal Identity Peoples have been increasing at a rate greater than the population of Alberta.

AB Pop. by Religion
As of 2011, Christians comprised approximately 60% of Alberta's population, while 32% of the province had no religious affiliation.

As of the 2011 National Household Survey, the largest religious group was Roman Catholic, representing 24.3% of the population. Alberta had the second highest percentage of non-religious residents among the provinces (after British Columbia) at 31.6% of the population. Of the remainder, 7.5% of the population identified themselves as belonging to the United Church of Canada, while 3.9% were Anglican. Lutherans made up 3.3% of the population while Baptists comprised 1.9%.

The remainder belonged to a wide variety of different religious affiliations, none of which constituted more than 2% of the population. Members of LDS Church are mostly concentrated in the extreme south of the province. Alberta has a population of Hutterites, a communal Anabaptist sect similar to the Mennonites, and has a significant population of Seventh-day Adventists. Alberta is home to several Byzantine Rite Churches as part of the legacy of Eastern European immigration, including the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton, and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada's Western Diocese which is based in Edmonton.

Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Hindus live in Alberta. Muslims made up 3.2% of the population, Sikhs 1.5%, Buddhists 1.2%, and Hindus 1.0%. Many of these are recent immigrants, but others have roots that go back to the first settlers of the prairies. Canada's oldest mosque, the Al-Rashid Mosque, is located in Edmonton, whereas Calgary is home to Canada's largest mosque, the Baitun Nur mosque. Alberta is also home to a growing Jewish population of about 15,400 people who constituted 0.3% of Alberta's population. Most of Alberta's Jews live in the metropolitan areas of Calgary (8,200) and Edmonton (5,500).

Municipalities

Largest metro areas and municipalities by population as of 2006
Census metropolitan areas: 2011  2006  2001  1996 
Calgary CMA 1,214,839 1,079,310 951,395 821,628
Edmonton CMA 1,159,869 1,034,945 937,845 862,597
Urban municipalities (10 largest): 2011  2006  2001  1996 
Calgary 1,096,833 988,193 878,866 768,082
Edmonton 812,201 730,372 666,104 616,306
Red Deer 90,564 82,772 67,707 60,080
Lethbridge 83,517 78,713 68,712 64,938
St. Albert (included in Edmonton CMA) 61,466 57,719 53,081 46,888
Medicine Hat 60,005 56,997 51,249 46,783
Grande Prairie 55,032 47,076 36,983 31,353
Airdrie (included in Calgary CMA) 42,564 28,927 20,382 15,946
Spruce Grove (included in Edmonton CMA) 26,171 19,496 15,983 14,271
Okotoks 24,511 17,145 11,689 8,528
Specialized/rural municipalities (5 largest): 2011  2006  2001  1996 
Strathcona County (included in Edmonton CMA) 92,490 82,511 71,986 64,176
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (includes Fort McMurray) 65,565 51,496 42,581 35,213
Rocky View County (included in Calgary CMA) 36,461 34,171 29,925 23,326
Parkland County (included in Edmonton CMA) 30,568 29,265 27,252 24,769
Municipal District of Foothills No. 31 21,258 19,736 16,764 13,714

Transportation

Road

See also: List of Alberta provincial highways and List of airports in Alberta
DavidThompsonHighway
Alberta Highway 11 beyond Banff National Park
Alberta Hwy 63 2
Alberta Highway 63 north of Fort McMurray

Alberta has over 181,000 km (112,000 mi) of highways and roads, of which nearly 41,000 km (25,000 mi) are paved. The main north-south corridor is Highway 2, which begins south of Cardston at the Carway border crossing and is part of the CANAMEX Corridor. Highway 4, which effectively extends Interstate 15 into Alberta and is the busiest US gateway to the province, begins at the Coutts border crossing and ends at Lethbridge. Highway 3 joins Lethbridge to Fort Macleod and links Highway 2 to Highway 4. Highway 2 travels north through Fort Macleod, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton.

North of Edmonton, the highway continues to Athabasca, then northwesterly along the south shore of Lesser Slave Lake into High Prairie, north to Peace River, west to Fairview and finally south to Grande Prairie, where it ends at an interchange with Highway 43. The section of Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton has been named the Queen Elizabeth II Highway to commemorate the visit of the monarch in 2005. Highway 2 is supplemented by two more highways that run parallel to it: Highway 22, west of Highway 2, known as Cowboy Trail, and Highway 21, east of Highway 2. Highway 43 travels northwest into Grande Prairie and the Peace River Country; Highway 63 travels northeast to Fort McMurray, the location of the Athabasca oil sands.

Alberta has two main east-west corridors. The southern corridor, part of the Trans-Canada Highway system, enters the province near Medicine Hat, runs westward through Calgary, and leaves Alberta through Banff National Park. The northern corridor, also part of the Trans-Canada network and known as the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16), runs west from Lloydminster in eastern Alberta, through Edmonton and Jasper National Park into British Columbia. One of the most scenic drives is along the Icefields Parkway, which runs for 228 km (142 mi) between Jasper and Lake Louise, with mountain ranges and glaciers on either side of its entire length. A third corridor stretches across southern Alberta; Highway 3 runs between Crowsnest Pass and Medicine Hat through Lethbridge and forms the eastern portion of the Crowsnest Highway. Another major corridor through central Alberta is Highway 11 (also known as the David Thompson Highway), which runs east from the Saskatchewan River Crossing in Banff National Park through Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer, connecting with Highway 12 20 km (12 mi) west of Stettler. The highway connects many of the smaller towns in central Alberta with Calgary and Edmonton, as it crosses Highway 2 just west of Red Deer.

Urban stretches of Alberta's major highways and freeways are often called trails. For example, Highway 2, the main north-south highway in the province, is called Deerfoot Trail as it passes through Calgary but becomes Calgary Trail (for southbound traffic) and Gateway Boulevard (for northbound traffic) as it enters Edmonton and then turns into St. Albert Trail as it leaves Edmonton for the City of St. Albert. Calgary, in particular, has a tradition of calling its largest urban expressways trails and naming many of them after prominent First Nations individuals and tribes, such as Crowchild Trail, Deerfoot Trail, and Stoney Trail.

Public Transit

Calgary LRT-3

Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge have substantial public transit systems. In addition to buses, Calgary and Edmonton operate light rail transit (LRT) systems. Edmonton LRT, which is underground in the downtown core and on the surface outside the CBD, was the first of the modern generation of light rail systems to be built in North America, while the Calgary C-Train has one of the highest number of daily riders of any LRT system in North America.

Air

Alberta is well-connected by air, with international airports in both Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary International Airport and Edmonton International Airport are the third and fifth busiest in Canada respectively. Calgary's airport is a hub for WestJet Airlines and a regional hub for Air Canada. Calgary's airport primarily serves the Canadian prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) for connecting flights to British Columbia, eastern Canada, 15 major US centres, nine European airports, one Asian airport and four destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. Edmonton's airport acts as a hub for the Canadian north and has connections to all major Canadian airports as well as 10 major US airports, 3 European airports and 6 Mexican and Caribbean airports.

Rail

There are more than 9,000 km (5,600 mi) of operating mainline railway; the Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway companies operate railway freight across the province. Passenger trains include Via Rail's Canadian (Toronto–Vancouver) or Jasper–Prince Rupert trains, which use the CN mainline and pass through Jasper National Park and parallel the Yellowhead Highway during at least part of their routes. The Rocky Mountaineer operates two sections: one from Vancouver to Banff and Calgary over CP tracks, and a section that travels over CN tracks to Jasper.

Culture

See also: Festivals in Alberta


Summer brings many festivals to the province of Alberta, especially in Edmonton. The Edmonton Fringe Festival is the world's second largest after the Edinburgh Festival. Both Calgary and Edmonton host a number of annual festivals and events, including folk music festivals. The city's "heritage days" festival sees the participation of over 70 ethnic groups. Edmonton's Churchill Square is home to a large number of the festivals, including the large Taste of Edmonton & The Works Art & Design Festival throughout the summer months.

The City of Calgary is also famous for its Stampede, dubbed "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth". The Stampede is Canada's biggest rodeo festival and features various races and competitions, such as calf roping and bull riding. In line with the western tradition of rodeo are the cultural artisans that reside and create unique Alberta western heritage crafts.

The Banff Centre hosts a range of festivals and other events including the international Mountain Film Festival. These cultural events in Alberta highlight the province's cultural diversity. Most of the major cities have several performing theatre companies who entertain in venues as diverse as Edmonton's Arts Barns and the Francis Winspear Centre for Music. Both Calgary and Edmonton are home to Canadian Football League and National Hockey League teams. Soccer, rugby union and lacrosse are also played professionally in Alberta.

Friendship partners

Alberta has relationships with several provinces, states, and other entities worldwide.

  • South Korea Gangwon-do, South Korea (1974)
  • Japan Hokkaido, Japan (1980)
  • People's Republic of China Heilongjiang, People's Republic of China (1981)
  • United States Montana Montana, United States (1985)
  • Russia Tyumen, Russia (1992)
  • Russia Khanty–Mansi, Russia (1995)
  • Russia Yamalo-Nenets, Russia (1997)
  • Mexico Template:Country data Jalisco Jalisco, Mexico (1999)
  • United States Alaska Alaska, United States (2002)
  • Germany Saxony Saxony, Germany (2002)
  • Ukraine Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine (2004)
  • Ukraine Lviv, Ukraine (2005)
  • United States California California, United States (1997)

Images


Alberta Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.