Location and geography

Map of Alberta in Canada

 

Occupying the northern half of the North American continent, the province of Alberta is located between 60 degrees and 49 degrees latitude north along the Canada-U.S. border. Spanning 661,185 square kilometres (255,200 square miles), Alberta covers almost 7% of Canada’s land mass. The diverse landscape includes mountains, glaciers, foothills, lakes, rivers, forests, badlands, wetlands and open plains. Approximately 90 per cent of Alberta is part of North America's interior plain, with heavily forested areas and peat lands in the north, grasslands in the south and parkland in the east and central areas. Some of the world’s most important paleontological finds have been made in the badlands of southern Alberta near Dinosaur Provincial Park – a Unesco World Heritage Site. Mountains and foothills make up the western boundary of the province and include nearly half of the southwest corner of Alberta. Alberta is a landlocked province bordered by the Northwest Territories to the north, Saskatchewan to the east, the US state of Montana to the south and British Columbia across the western border of the Rocky Mountains.

Alberta is situated in the Mountain Time Zone (Greenwich Mean Time less 7 hours). Daylight Savings Time (GMT less 6 hours) is in effect between March and November.

 

Alberta's major cities

 

  • Edmonton, Alberta’s capital, is situated along the North Saskatchewan River with over 160 kilometres of multiuse trails and urban green space 22 times larger than the size of Central Park in New York City. The city originally started out as a trading post in 1795 and has seen prosperous times due to its position as a distribution centre for the western prairies, a stopping point to Canada’s North and the pacific coast, the gold rush of 1898 and the discovery of oil in 1947. Edmonton is now a thriving metropolis of over 800,000 (2012) and home to many world renowned festivals, events and attractions. Edmonton is located at the geographic centre of Alberta and is a three hour drive north from Calgary and four hours east from Jasper National Park in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Calgary, incorporated as a city in 1894, sits at the entrance to the Kicking-Horse Pass, one of the few passages through the sheer eastern wall of the Rocky Mountains. Located three hours north of the US-Canada border and one hour east of Banff National Park, Calgary is home to the head offices of many of Canada’s largest corporations. From its beginnings as an oil and agriculture hub, Calgary has grown into a city of nearly 1.4 million in 2012 and has gained world fame hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics and attracting visitors to “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth:” The Calgary Stampede.