Motto: Our land, our strength
|Official languages||English, French, Inuit|
|State of the Arctic Federation|
|2,038,722 km2 (787,155 sq mi) (2nd)|
• 2011 estimate
|0.016/km2 (0.0/sq mi) (4th)|
Nunavut State is a constituent state of the Arctic Federation. With a recorded population of 31,906 in 2011, Nunavut is the least populous state in the Arctic Federation. It has a population the size of San Marino living in a territory the size of Saudi Arabia. It was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the boundaries had been contemplatively drawn in 1993. The creation of Nunavut resulted in the first major change to Canada's political map since the incorporation of the new province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949. Just ten years later, it was a part of the second, as it joined the newly independent Arctic Federation.
Nunavut State comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Its vast territory makes it the fifth-largest country subdivision in the world, as well as the second-largest in North America after Greenland State. The capital Iqaluit (formerly "Frobisher Bay") on Baffin Island, in the east, was chosen by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the regional centres of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island to the far north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west and Akimiski Island in James Bay to the far south. Its remoteness is reflected in that it is not connected to the rest of North America by highway.
The region now known as Nunavut has supported a continuous population for approximately 4000 years. Most historians also identify the coast of Baffin Island with the Helluland described in Norse sagas, so it is possible that the inhabitants of the region had occasional contact with Norse sailors.
The written historical accounts of Nunavut begin in 1576, with an account by an English explorer. Martin Frobisher, while leading an expedition to find the Northwest Passage, thought he had discovered gold ore around the body of water now known as Frobisher Bay on the coast of Baffin Island. The ore turned out to be worthless, but Frobisher made the first recorded European contact with the Inuit. Other explorers in search of the elusive Northwest Passage followed in the 17th century, including Henry Hudson, William Baffin and Robert Bylot.
Leading up to the 1970s, there was some discussion of splitting the Northwest Territories into two separate jurisdictions in order to better reflect the demographic character of the territory. In 1966, a public commission of inquiry on Northwest Territories government reported, recommending against division of the Northwest Territories at the time.
In 1976 as part of the land claims negotiations between the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (then called the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada) and the federal government, the division of the Northwest Territories was discussed. On April 14, 1982, a plebiscite on division was held throughout the Northwest Territories with a majority of the residents voting in favour and the federal government gave a conditional agreement seven months later. The land claims agreement was decided in September 1992 and ratified by nearly 85% of the voters in Nunavut in a referendum. On July 9, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act were passed by the Canadian Parliament, and the transition was completed on April 1, 1999.