Alberta Desciption and Overview
The westernmost of Canada's three Prairie provinces, Alberta covers an area of some 661,185 square kilometers (see Provincial Map). The southwestern section of the province is dominated by mountains (most famously, around Banff) and the foothills that build up from the prairie landscape.
The southeastern portion of the province is part of the interior Great Plains of North America and has rich farmland in the north, livestock grazing in the south (with Medicine Hat & Lethbridge the major communities there), and includes some near-desert canyons in the middle (around Drumheller). The northern half of the province is classic Canadian Shield country, most of the province's boreal forest and lakes.
The major cities in Alberta, which have both doubled in size and population over the past 30 years, are:
Calgary and Edmonton and a prime area for recreational property lies in the Alberta Rockies. Each of these are covered in detail in the MovingInCanada.com website. This is important for job huntder because at the start of the 1970's the province had a population of about 1.5 million, of which 2/3 was rural, and today the province has a population of 3.3 million of which 2/3 is urban which changes both the workplace economics and the power of cities in politics.
The native people, whose ancestors crossed the Bering Sea from Asia thousands of years ago, were the first people to live in Alberta. They worked with and trapped for the European fur traders who arrived in the 1700s. In 1870, the region became part of the Northwest Territory of Canada and was administered from the newly-formed province of Manitoba.
When the railroad was completed through the southern portion of the province in 1885, the region's population grew quickly. In 1905 Alberta became a province, named for Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, a daughter of Britain's Queen Victoria, and Edmonton was declared its capital city.
In 1930, the federal government gave the western provinces control over their resources (a right the original provinces already had), and following several smaller discoveries the 1947 Leduc well demonstrated a concentration of oil & gas resources in Alberta. As a result, the Alberta government controlled its oil & gas resources and revenues, which has led to the province having Canada's lowest income taxes and no provincial retail sales tax.
The province has a population of 2.6 million residents with two-thirds of its population living in the two largest cities, Calgary and Edmonton. The balance of the population is spread around the province, though mostly concentrated in smaller urban centres.