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Frobisher Bay
Iqaluit skyline.jpg
Settled 1942
City status April 19, 2001
 • Type Iqaluit Municipal Council
 • Total 52.34 km2 (20.21 sq mi)
 • Total 6,184
 • Density 118/km2 (310/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-5 (North American Eastern Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST) -4

Iqaluit, formerly Frobisher Bay, is the territorial capital and the largest community of Canada's youngest territory, Nunavut. Its population is about 60% Inuit, a lower figure than in other parts of Nunavut. The town was selected to serve as the new territory's capital in a territory-wide referendum, in which it was chosen over Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

The city is located in the hills rising from Koojesse Inlet, an inlet of Frobisher Bay, on the south-east part of Baffin Island. It is well to the east of Nunavut's mainland, and northeast of Hudson Bay. Inhabitants of Iqaluit are called Iqalummiut (singular: Iqalummiuq).

Iqaluit has the distinction of being the smallest Canadian capital city in terms of population and the only capital that cannot be accessed from the rest of Canada via a highway.

As of the 2016 census the population was 7,740. Iqaluit has the lowest population of any capital city in Canada. Inhabitants of Iqaluit are called Iqalummiut (singular: Iqalummiuq). The city is also the location of the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, which houses a large collection of Inuit and arctic objects.


Iqaluit has been a traditional fishing location used by Inuit for thousands of years, hence the name Iqaluit, which means place of many fish. In 1942 an American air base was built there, intended to provide a stop-over and refuelling site for short range aircraft being ferried to Europe to support the war effort. Iqaluit's first permanent resident was Nakasuk, an Inuk guide who helped American Air Force planners to choose a site with a large flat area suitable for a landing strip, one of the city's elementary schools is named after him. The wartime airstrip was known as Crystal Two and was part of the Crimson Route. The American military left Iqaluit in 1963.


Located on an island remote from the Canadian highway system, Iqaluit is generally only accessible by aircraft and boat. Iqaluit Airport is a fully modern facility whose originally WWII-era runway is more than long enough for all classes of modern jet.

In the middle of summer, a few ships - transport bulk and heavy goods into the city. Iqaluit does not have a harbour, so goods must be transshipped to smaller boats.

It is in principle possible to reach Iqaluit on foot or by dog sled or snowmobile, both from other parts of Baffin Island, but also from the Quebec mainland when Hudson strait freezes. This was how the Inuit traditionally travelled, and how they still do sometimes, but it is ill-advised for anyone who is not experienced in arctic travel.

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