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The Yukon

Yukon Territory of Canada flagYukon or "The Yukon" is the westernmost and smallest of Canada's three federal territories. The other two territories are Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The Yukon was named after the Yukon River and the word Yukon means "Great River" in Gwich'in.

Yukon borders the US State of Alaska to the west, Northwest Territories to the east, British Columbia to the south and the Beaufort Sea to the north. See our map for more information.

The territory was created from a part of the HBC's NorthWest Territory in 1898 as "The Yukon". The government of Canada most recent update of the Yukon Act in 2003 confirmed "Yukon", rather than "Yukon Territory", as the current usage standard. The largest ethnic group in the territory is English, followed by First Nations

Here are some quick facts.

  • Total land area – 482,443km²
  • Population – 32,246
  • Coastline – 343km
  • Capital – Whitehorse
  • Language – English and French (see below)

Yukon landscape in fall colourIf you compare the size of Yukon with the country of Sweden they are almost the same size. Yukon is 12 times larger then Switzerland, twice as large as Great Britain, and the State of Texas in the USA is 1.4 times larger then Yukon.

Population wise, Sweden has 273 times more people, Switzerland 227 times more, Great Britain 18,060 times more people and the state of Texas 734 times more.

If you look at the amount of people per km², Yukon has 0.065 people per km². Sweden 21/km², Switzerland 188/km², Great Britain 383/km², and Texas 37/km².

Yukon History

The Ice Age history of Yukon is unique in Canada. The massive Cordilleran ice sheet advanced over southern Yukon at least six times during the last 2.5 million years.

Yukon's Ice Age was distinct in that west-central and northern Yukon remained ice-free as part of the eastern area of Beringia. This ice-free refuge was a vast cold and arid grassland and home to woolly mammoths, horses and lions.

Man gold panningJumping ahead in history, in 1887 a trading post is erected at the Forty Mile River mouth and becomes the first gold rush town. In 1896 Skookum Jim, George Carmack and Dawson Charlie strike gold on Bonanza Creek in the Klondike River drainage. Word spreads and creates the world-famous Klondike Gold Rush in 1898.

In 1898 Dawson grew from a Moose pasture to a city of 30-40,000 people all looking for gold. Dawson became the Paris of the North. Plenty of the gold was mined again by the entertainment industry, the saloons, the bordellos, the gambling places, and extremely expensive food. Today, gold is still mined, but tourism is the city's main source of income. More on Yukon history


The Language Act of Yukon "recognizes the significance" of aboriginal languages in Yukon. However, only English and French are available in law, court proceedings, and legislative assembly proceedings

As far as the mother toung approximately 86% claimed English, 4% French, 2.6% German. The following are all under 1%: Chinese, Tagalog, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hungarian, Punjabi, Gwich'in, Tlingit, and Yakuts. More information on Yukon languages.

Yukon Tourist Information

Grizzly Bear in fall"Yukon - Larger Then Life". Yukon is all about the outdoors and wilderness. Quoting the Travel Yukon website:

"Close your eyes now and breathe in crisp Yukon air. Smell spruce sap and the earthy scent of tundra, and listen for the excited howls of husky sled dogs. Open your eyes and drink in Yukon landscapes under dancing aurora borealis. Canoe a Yukon river and dip your hands into the clearest water you've ever seen. A vacation in Canada's Yukon is a larger than life experience. Stay awhile - you won't want to leave."

Take a train adventure, and Experience the wild from the comfort of your old restored Parlour train car. You will fall under "The Spell of the Yukon" with the White Pass & Yukon Route, when you follow the trail of the Sourdoughs between Skagway, Alaska and Carcross Yukon. Follow the Skagway River up to the White Pass Summit and roll down into British Columbia to the restored 1903 station at Lake Bennett.

Yukon offers so much to see and do, you can, watch the Aurora Borealis or Northern lights, wild life watching, enjoy midnight sun, paddle the Yukon River, Fly over Mount Logan (Canada's highest mountain) and the St. Elias Ice fields in Yukon' World Heritage Site, Kluane National Park and much more. For more information on being a tourist in Yukon see the Travel Yukon website.

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