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Located in the prairie region of Canada, Saskatchewan is bordered by
Manitoba, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and the United States, and
is the only Canadian province with entirely man-made boundaries. The
province is rectangular in shape and is 651 900 km2 in area. Half of it
consists of forests, one-third of cultivated lands, and one-eighth is
covered with water.
The northern zone rests on a formation of Precambrian rock
characteristic of the Canadian Shield. As a result, there are numerous
(over 100 000) lakes, rivers, bogs and rocky outcroppings.
The southern part of the province is relatively flat, with occasional
valleys created by erosion from the glacial era. This prairie zone is
where most of the people live.
Camel caravans might not seem out of place in certain parts of
Saskatchewan. Athabasca Provincial Park has sand dunes 30 metres high
and semi-arid vegetation. Nowhere else in the world are dunes found this
The name Saskatchewan comes from the Cree word "kisiskatchewanisipi,"
which means "swift-flowing river." The province has four major rivers:
the Assiniboine, the North Saskatchewan, the South Saskatchewan and the
The whole province enjoys a hot, dry summer but the town of Estevan is
the undisputed "sunshine capital" of Canada, enjoying 2 540 hours of
sunshine per year.
The first European explorers and trappers to visit Saskatchewan found
established settlements of Aboriginal people. The Chipewyan Indians
lived in the north; the Assiniboine inhabited the eastern plains, while
the nomadic Blackfoot roamed the west. The territory of the Cree, who
were long-time residents of the north, also extended southward to the
The earliest explorer was Henry Kelsey, a Hudson's Bay Company agent,
who in about 1690 followed the Saskatchewan River to the southern plains
of Saskatchewan. On the heels of the trappers came fur-trading companies
and trading posts, which became the foundation of many present-day
For 200 years, the Hudson's Bay Company owned and administered the vast
Northwest Territories. Realizing their agricultural potential and the
opportunities for colonization, the Government of Canada acquired the
Territories in 1870. After the Dominion Lands Act of 1872, which
encouraged homesteaders, and another Act to stimulate immigration, the
new railway began bringing settlers in to farm these rich lands.
In 1905, Saskatchewan separated from the Northwest Territories and was
established as a province. Regina became the provincial capital. The
years following were years of prosperity, until the 1929 economic crash,
combined with a decade of drought and bad harvests, brought the lean
years of the Great Depression to the province.
In 1944, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) became the first
socialist government elected in North America. Its leader, Tommy
Douglas, led the fight for public hospitalization and medicare, earning