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Yukon Territory

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The Yukon Territory is a distant land of sweeping tundra, perennially snow-capped mountains, rushing white waters, deep boreal forests, and millions of wild flowers that paint a scenic and dramatic backdrop across this vast wilderness. So overwhelming is this landscape, it invites you to experience a sense of awe at the sheer magnitude of it all. It is the land of the midnight sky--home of the spectacular light show of the north. It is a place so breathtaking, it forces man to beg the question of his own importance.

While the Yukon Territory is larger than the state of California, it's sparsely populated with only 32,000 people. And of these, roughly 25,000 live in the Yukon's capital, Whitehorse. There were more residents living in the Yukon in 1898, at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, than there are today. At that time, Dawson City alone reached a population of more than 30,000.

Even the number of wildlife surpasses the human population. There's about 185,000 caribou and 50,000 moose. The mountain sheep total roughly 25,000. There is 10,000 grizzly bears with black bears right behind them at 7,000. The territory has 254 species of birds and 38 species of fish.

Yukon Natives
The Yukon Territory is filled with a rich cultural history dating back to the aboriginal people. Hunters, fishers, trappers--these first nomads came here over the land bridge from Asia thousands of years ago looking for new resources. They had followed the herds of woolly mammoth and giant bison, also in search for food.

The first evidence of human residence in North America is in the northern Yukon Blue Fish Caves on the Blue Fish River. Some experts date humans in this region as far back as 14,000 years.

The aborigines are the ancestors of the Yukon's First Nations people who include, the Southern and Northern Tutchone, Tlingit, Tagish, Kaska, Tanana, Han and Gwitchin people. The Tutchone, Tagish, Kaska, Tanana, Han and Gwitchin people share the Athapaskan language. The largest group of Athapaskans today are the Navajo people in the southwestern United States.

The shape of the Yukon Territory is akin to the shape of a right triangle. To the west, it borders the State of Alaska; to the east, it borders the Northwest Territories; and to the south, it borders British Columbia. The Beaufort Sea is on the northern coast. The jagged eastern boundary mostly follows the watershed between the Yukon Basin and the Mackenzie River watershed to the east in the Mackenzie mountains. Most of the territory is in the watershed of its namesake, the Yukon River.

The Yukon Territory has some of the youngest, highest and largest mountains in the world. In Kluane National Park, the St. Elias Mountains are the youngest in Canada and also the highest. With more than 20 summits measuring more than 14,000 feet, it is the largest accumulation on the continent. Ever looming over these noble peaks is Mount Logan. Measuring at 19,551 feet, it is the highest mountain in Canada and also one of the world's largest massifs. These mountains are still growing too. Throughout the year, hundreds of small tremors recorded by a seismograph at Haines Junction force the St. Elias peaks upward even more.

The Yukon has two broad geographical regions: taiga and tundra. Taiga is the boreal forest that encircles the world in the sub-arctic zone. This includes most of the Yukon. Tundra is the immense, rocky plains in the arctic regions, where the extreme climate produces a desolate terrain. The Arctic Circle is close enough to the Yukon that many of the mountains stay snow capped throughout the year.

It is often said that the Yukon Territory is one of the last frontiers. More than three quarters of it remains untouched wilderness. So remote are some places, there is literally no evidence of human beings. It's a territory still very much lacking modern progress and technology. You won't find a computer or access to a cell phone in most of the Yukon.

The temperatures in the Yukon frequently reach a high of 95° during the summer and drop as low as - 65 ° during the winter. These depend, however, on the area, as some places in the far north can get even colder. The semi-arid climate provides for the warm summers.

The Yukon has historically been known as the land of the midnight sun. This depiction refers to the region's long summer days when the sun never sets. In some places of the Yukon, the summer solstice brings magenta and crimson skies at dusk so awesome, they command the heavens with their beauty.

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