Alberta lies between the 49th and 60th parallels as the farthest west prairie province. Proportionately, Alberta is almost the same size as Texas and lies at a similar latitude to the United Kingdom. Approximately half of the province consists of mountains and foothills. The foothills which join mountain and prairie landscapes are heavily forested areas and grasslands. Some of the province’s richest deposits of sour gas and coal can be found here. The other 90 percent of the land area forms part of the interior plain of North America.
Alberta has a continental climate as a result of its location. Long, cold winters are contrasted by mild to hot summers and frequent sunny days all year round. Although cold air covers the whole province in winter, it is often heated up in the southwest by a mild wind, the “chinook,” which travels through the mountains from the Pacific Ocean.
Alberta is a dynamic place. Its culture is exemplified by “Stampede Fever,” where every July the world famous Calgary Stampede draws thousands to the 10-day rodeo and western celebration. Nestled against the eastern edge of the Canadian Rockies, the province of Alberta is saturated in sparkling blue-green lakes, glacial mountains, rolling foothills, and prairie landscapes. From the intensity and cultural density of Edmonton and Calgary to the gargantuan mountain paradise of Lake Louise and Banff, Alberta is an experience in Canadian diversity.
Alberta is home to one of the world’s most productive agricultural economies. It produces about 20 percent of the value of Canada’s annual output. Roughly 22 million hectares of property are pasture and forage for livestock. Wheat is the principal crop but the production of new crops expands constantly as the industry diversifies. Alberta nurtures the largest livestock population in Canada.
As Canada’s “energy province”, Alberta has over 80 percent of the country’s reserves of conventional crude oil, more than 90 percent of its natural gas, and all of its oil-sands and bitumen. The oil and natural gas sector has adapted to the challenge of unstable energy prices in the 1980s by significantly reducing production and operating costs. Over half of Alberta is covered by forests. Of the total forest area, 216,000 square kilometers are commercially productive forest land.
Food and beverage processing is the largest manufacturing industry in Alberta in terms of both sales and employment. Petrochemicals and plastics, forest products, metals and machinery and refineries have contributed to Alberta’s industrial evolution over the last several years. Many new products – including aerospace and transportation equipment, as well as industrial and specialty chemicals – are also being manufactured in Alberta.
We currently feature the cities Edmonton and Calgary in our Explore Canada section.