What is Alberta?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Alberta is Canada’s fourth largest province with an area of 255,287 square miles (661,190 sq km), and the sixth largest division if the territories are included. It makes up about 6.5% of the land in Canada and is similar in size to the other Prairie Provinces, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The 2007 population of Alberta was 3,474,000, the fourth greatest of any region. Edmonton is the capital of the province, and other important cities include Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Medicine Hat.

Sprig of rapeseed, which is grown in Alberta.
Sprig of rapeseed, which is grown in Alberta.

Named for the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Alberta is known as the Princess Province, but also nicknamed Sunny Alberta. Its motto is Fortis et Liber, which means “Strong and free.” The provincial emblems are as follows:

Alberta is the fourth largest province in Canada.
Alberta is the fourth largest province in Canada.

  • Floral emblem: Wild Rose
  • Stone emblem: Petrified Wood
  • Arboreal emblem: Lodgepole Pine
  • Grass emblem: Rough Fescue
  • Avian emblem: Great Horned Owl
  • Mammal emblem: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
  • Fish emblem: Bull Trout
  • Shield of Arms: A wheat field at the base sits in front of prairie, green hills, and snowy mountains with a blue sky above. A St. George cross is above.
  • Coat of Arms: The shield in the center rests on a grassy mound adorned with wild roses. The shield is supported by a lion and a pronghorn antelope and topped with a beaver with a royal crown. The motto is included.
  • Flag: The flag displays the shield on a field of blue.

    Aboriginal peoples have lived in Alberta for more than 10,000 years, whereas European explorers first arrived in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Today, Alberta is the fastest growing Canadian province — a trend that began after World War II, with the greatest number of interprovincial immigrants in the twenty-first century. It is also one of the most culturally diverse provinces, including not only Amerindians and Inuit, but also immigrants from Europe and Asia.

    Half the land of Alberta is forest, and forestry is an important part of the economy. Around a third of the land is used for agriculture — either for crops such as grains, hay, and rapeseed, which is used to make canola oil — or raising livestock. Alberta also is responsible for the major portion of Canada’s natural gas production, as well as about half of the coal mined there. Manufacturing, service, and transportation are also important.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


I am currently planning a vacation to Canada and I am wondering if I should go visit the province of Alberta?

I have noticed that it has a very large city as well as a serene area out in the wilderness and I would like to do some hunting and fishing while I am there, but not be so far away that I am completely out of touch with civilization while I am there.

It seems like Calgary is big enough that there is a lot to do there and I was wondering what tourism spots there are and if this would be a great place to take a vacation to.


@matthewc23 - I think the reason why there are so many wrestlers from Calgary is because of Hall of Fame trainer Stu Hart, who may be the greatest wrestling trainer in the history of the industry.

However, besides athletics and wrestling there is a lot of famous people from Calgary, but that is not necessarily what makes Alberta great.

Alberta is one of those place that has large urban areas, as well as having very serene areas out in the country that are just flat out breath taking. This is definitely a place to think about going to if someone is wanting to take a vacation to Canada and be able to see two different sides to the country of Canada.


@kentuckycat - To be quite honest to answer your question there are hundreds of people of prominence from Alberta because of the city of Calgary.

The city of Calgary is just under one million residents and there are a lot of people from the area, most of the sports related, that have had success at the professional level.

However, the most interesting thing I see about athletics in Calgary is that a large contingent of professional wrestlers come from Calgary.

There are more professional wrestlers in the hall of fame that have come from Calgary than any other city and it is a well known city in wrestling circles as producing top of the line technical wrestlers. Usually this city is looked at very closely for up and coming talent in this industry and is well known in wrestling circles.


The city of Calgary, which is in Alberta, comes off to me as a town that is known a lot for athletics as well as for a lot of famous residents.

I know for sure that Calgary has a Canadian Football League team known as the Calgary Stampeders as well as the Calgary Flames, which seem to recently the source of civic pride in the city.

I am wondering however about famous residents that came from Alberta or the city of Calgary. I am sure that there are many famous residents from this area, but I do not know much about Alberta, or Canada for that matter so I am wondering if anyone knows.


Oil and cattle are major industries and are not listed. Oil extracted in Alberta accounts for one-third of the US oil imports. Alberta has more oil than Saudia Arabia but is locked in the controversial Tar Sands.

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