Alberta is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is part of Western Canada and is one of the three prairie provinces. English is the official language of the province and is the native language of most Albertans.
Alberta, with an area of 661,848 km2 (255,500 sq mi), is the fourth-largest province after Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia
The largest river is the Peace River with an average flow of 2161 m3/s. The Peace River originates in the Rocky Mountains of northern British Columbia and flows through northern Alberta and into the Slave River, a tributary of the Mackenzie River.
Alberta's capital city, Edmonton, is located at about the geographic centre of the province. It is the most northerly major city in Canada, and serves as a gateway and hub for resource development in northern Canada. The region, with its proximity to Canada's largest oil fields, has most of western Canada's oil refinery capacity. Calgary is about 280 km (170 mi) south of Edmonton and 240 km (150 mi) north of Montana, surrounded by extensive ranching country. Almost 75% of the province's population lives in the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor. The land grant policy to the railroads served as a means to populate the province in its early years.
The Alberta badlands are located in southeastern Alberta, where the Red Deer River crosses the flat prairie and farmland, and features deep canyons and striking landforms. Dinosaur Provincial Park, near Brooks, Alberta, showcases the badlands terrain, desert flora, and remnants from Alberta's past when dinosaurs roamed the then lush landscape.
Alberta has a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. The province is open to cold arctic weather systems from the north, which often produce extremely cold conditions in winter. As the fronts between the air masses shift north and south across Alberta, the temperature can change rapidly. Arctic air masses in the winter produce extreme minimum temperatures varying from −54 °C (−65 °F) in northern Alberta to −46 °C (−51 °F) in southern Alberta, although temperatures at these extremes are rare.
In the summer, continental air masses have produced record maximum temperatures from 32 °C (90 °F) in the mountains to over 40 °C (104 °F) in southeastern Alberta. Alberta is a sunny province. Annual bright sunshine totals range between 1,900 up to just under 2,600 hours per year. Northern Alberta gets about 18 hours of daylight in the summer
Alberta's economy was one of the strongest in the world, supported by the burgeoning petroleum industry and to a lesser extent, agriculture and technology. In 2013, Alberta's per capita GDP exceeded that of the United States, Norway, or Switzerland,and was the highest of any province in Canada at CA$84,390. This was 56% higher than the national average of CA$53,870 and more than twice that of some of the Atlantic provinces. In 2006, the deviation from the national average was the largest for any province in Canadian history. According to the 2006 census, the median annual family income after taxes was $70,986 in Alberta (compared to $60,270 in Canada as a whole). In 2014, Alberta had the second-largest economy in Canada after Ontario, with a GDP exceeding CA$376 billion.The GDP of the province calculated at basic prices rose by 4.6% in 2017 to $327.4 billion, which was the largest increase recorded in Canada, and it ended two consecutive years of decreases.
Alberta's economy was one of the strongest in the world, supported by the burgeoning petroleum industry and to a lesser extent, agriculture and technology. In 2013, Alberta's per capita GDP exceeded that of the United States, Norway, or Switzerland, and was the highest of any province in Canada at CA$84,390. This was 56% higher than the national average of CA$53,870 and more than twice that of some of the Atlantic provinces. In 2006, the deviation from the national average was the largest for any province in Canadian history. According to the 2006 census, the median annual family income after taxes was $70,986 in Alberta (compared to $60,270 in Canada as a whole). In 2014, Alberta had the second-largest economy in Canada after Ontario, with a GDP exceeding CA$376 billion. The GDP of the province calculated at basic prices rose by 4.6% in 2017 to $327.4 billion, which was the largest increase recorded in Canada, and it ended two consecutive years of decreases.
Alberta has been a tourist destination from the early days of the twentieth century, with attractions including outdoor locales for skiing, hiking and camping, shopping locales such as West Edmonton Mall, Calgary Stampede, outdoor festivals, professional athletic events, international sporting competitions such as the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games, as well as more eclectic attractions. According to Alberta Economic Development, Calgary and Edmonton both host over four million visitors annually. Banff, Jasper and the Rocky Mountains are visited by about three million people per year. Alberta tourism relies heavily on Southern Ontario tourists, as well as tourists from other parts of Canada, the United States, and many other countries.
There are also natural attractions like Elk Island National Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, and the Columbia Icefield. Alberta's Rockies include well-known tourist destinations Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The two mountain parks are connected by the scenic Icefields Parkway. Banff is located 128 km (80 mi) west of Calgary on Highway 1, and Jasper is located 366 km (227 mi) west of Edmonton on Yellowhead Highway. Five of Canada's fourteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located within the province: Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. A number of these areas hold ski resorts, most notably Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Marmot Basin, Norquay and Nakiska
Summer brings many festivals to the province of Alberta, especially in Edmonton. The Edmonton Fringe Festival is the world's second-largest after the Edinburgh Festival. Both Calgary and Edmonton host a number of annual festivals and events, including folk music festivals. The city's "heritage days" festival sees the participation of over 70 ethnic groups. Edmonton's Churchill Square is home to a large number of the festivals, including the large Taste of Edmonton & The Works Art & Design Festival throughout the summer months.
The City of Calgary is also famous for its Stampede, dubbed "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth". The Stampede is Canada's biggest rodeo festival and features various races and competitions, such as calf roping and bull riding. In line with the western tradition of rodeo are the cultural artisans that reside and create unique Alberta western heritage crafts.
An ice hockey game between the Calgary Flames, and the Edmonton Oilers, two teams in the National Hockey League
The Banff Centre hosts a range of festivals and other events including the international Mountain Film Festival. These cultural events in Alberta highlight the province's cultural diversity. Most of the major cities have several performing theatre companies who entertain in venues as diverse as Edmonton's Arts Barns and the Francis Winspear Centre for Music. Both Calgary and Edmonton are home to Canadian Football League and National Hockey League teams (the Stampeders/Flames and Edmonton Football Team/Oilers respectively). Soccer, rugby union and lacrosse are also played professionally in Alberta
As with any Canadian province, the Alberta Legislature has (almost) exclusive authority to make laws respecting education. Since 1905 the Legislature has used this capacity to continue the model of locally elected public and separate school boards which originated prior to 1905, as well as to create and regulate universities, colleges, technical institutions and other educational forms and institutions (public charter schools, private schools, home schooling).
Elementary and secondary
There are forty-two public school jurisdictions in Alberta, and seventeen operating separate school jurisdictions. Sixteen of the operating separate school jurisdictions have a Catholic electorate, and one (St. Albert) has a Protestant electorate. In addition, one Protestant separate school district, Glen Avon, survives as a ward of the St. Paul Education Region. The City of Lloydminster straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, and both the public and separate school systems in that city are counted in the above numbers: both of them operate according to Saskatchewan law.
The University of Alberta, located in Edmonton and established in 1908, is Alberta's oldest and largest university. The University of Calgary, once affiliated with the University of Alberta, gained its autonomy in 1966 and is now the second-largest university in Alberta. Athabasca University, which focuses on distance learning, and the University of Lethbridge are located in Athabasca and Lethbridge respectively.
In early September 2009, Mount Royal University became Calgary's second public university, and in late September 2009, a similar move made MacEwan University Edmonton's second public university. There are 15 colleges that receive direct public funding, along with two technical institutes, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Two of the colleges, Red Deer College and Grande Prairie Regional College, were approved by the Alberta government to become degree granting universities