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Saskatchewan (i/ssktwn/ or /ssktwn/) is a prairie province in Canada, which has a total area of 651,900 square kilometres (251,700sqmi) and a land area of 592,534 square kilometres (228,800sqmi), the remainder being water area (covered by lakes/ponds, reservoirs and rivers). Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by the Province of Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota. As of December 2013, the population of Saskatchewan was estimated at 1,114,170. Residents primarily live in the southern half of the province. Of the total population, 257,300 live in the provinces largest city, Saskatoon, while 210,000 live in the provincial capital, Regina. Other major cities include Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current and North Battleford.
Saskatchewan was first explored by Europeans in 1690 and settled in 1774, having also been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups. It became a province in 1905, its name derived from the Saskatchewan River. The river was known as kisiskciwani-spiy (swift flowing river) in the Cree language. In the early 20th century the province became known as a stronghold for Canadian democratic socialism. Tommy Douglas, who was premier from 1944 to 1961, became the first social-democratic politician to be elected in North America. The provinces economy is based on agriculture, mining, and energy. Saskatchewans current premier is Brad Wall and its lieutenant-governor is Vaughn Solomon Schofield.
In 1992, the federal and provincial governments signed a historic land claim agreement with Saskatchewan First Nations. The First Nations received compensation and were permitted to buy land on the open market for the tribes; they have acquired about 761,000 acres (3079 kilometres squared), now reserve lands. Some First Nations have used their settlement to invest in urban areas, including Saskatoon.
As Saskatchewans borders largely follow the geographic coordinates of longitude and latitude, the province is roughly a quadrilateral, or a shape with four sides. However the 49th parallel boundary and the 60th northern border appear curved on maps and globes. Additionally, the eastern boundary of the province is partially crooked rather than following a line of longitude, as correction lines were devised by surveyors prior to the homestead program (18801928).
Saskatchewan is part of the Western Provinces and is bounded on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the north-east by Nunavut, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the American states of Montana and North Dakota. Saskatchewan has the distinction of being the only Canadian province for which no borders correspond to physical geographic features (i.e. they are all parallels and meridians). Along with Alberta, Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces that are land-locked.
The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewans population is located in the southern third of the province, south of the 53rd parallel.
Saskatchewan contains two major natural regions: the Canadian Shield in the north and the Interior Plains in the south. Northern Saskatchewan is mostly covered by boreal forest except for the Lake Athabasca Sand Dunes, the largest active sand dunes in the world north of 58, and adjacent to the southern shore of Lake Athabasca. Southern Saskatchewan contains another area with sand dunes known as the Great Sand Hills covering over 300 square kilometres (120sqmi). The Cypress Hills, located in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan and Killdeer Badlands (Grasslands National Park), are areas of the province that remained unglaciated during the last glaciation period.
The provinces highest point, at 1,392 metres (4,567ft), is located in the Cypress Hills less than 2 km from the provincial boundary with Alberta. The lowest point is the shore of Lake Athabasca, at 213 metres (699ft). The province has 14 major drainage basins made up of various rivers and watersheds draining into the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
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