Located in the middle of the western prairie provinces of Canada, Saskatchewan is bordered by Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and the United States. The province is almost rectangular in shape and has an area of 651,900 square kilometres. Half of the province is covered with forests, one third of cultivated farmland and one eighth is covered with water.
The first European explorers and fur traders, who represented the Hudson’s Bay Company, came to Saskatchewan in the late 1600s. They found established settlements of Aboriginal people, including Chipewyan Indians in the north, the nomadic Blackfoot roaming the eastern plains, Assiniboine in the west, and the Cree, who resided in the north as well as on the plains.
The Government of Canada purchased the Territories in 1870 for its agricultural potential and to build its population. The Metis, people of mixed French and Aboriginal descent, settled here early migrated westward from Manitoba. Saskatchewan entered Confederation as a province in 1905, and Regina was chosen the provincial capital.
Saskatchewan is also proud to be the cradle of Canada’s Universal Health Care system, and Canada’s Old Age Security system.
Saskatchewan’s population stands at about 1.2 million, and half that population is clustered in its two largest cities: Regina and Saskatoon. It’s Canada’s only province where a minority of the population is from British or French background. The majority comes from a variety of ethnic groups: German, Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Amerindian, Dutch, Polish and Russian, plus many non-European origins. Regina and Saskatoon. are the major urban centers in Saskatchewan.
Once solely an agricultural economy, the Saskatchewan has diversified with the development of its mineral resources. Saskatchewan still supplies 28 percent of Canada’s grain production, with crops that include canola, rye, oats, barley and flaxseeds, as well as wheat. It is a major producer of cattle and hogs, and the average farm is 420 hectares in size.
Northern Saskatchewan’s 350,000 sq km of forests are the province’s most important renewable natural resource. Softwoods (coniferous trees), used for pulp and paper production, are the focal point of forestry development
Saskatchewan is rich in minerals, including potash, uranium, coal, oil and natural gas. Saskatchewan has 14,000 oil wells which produce about 12 percent of Canada’s total oil output. Saskatchewan is the leading exporter of potash, with two-thirds of the world’s reserves.
Research and development, centered around Saskatoon’s Innovation Centre, has gained international recognition in the areas of agriculture, space technology and biotechnology.