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.
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:
- 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.