After being inhabited by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years, Saskatchewan was first explored by Europeans in the 1700s. Large-scale settlement by Europeans and Canadians began in the last decades of the 1800s. The Regina area was first part of federal territories that later became the province of Saskatchewan in 1905 with Regina as its capital city. Saskatchewan’s current premier is Brad Wall and its lieutenant-governor, the Queen’s representative, is Vaughn Solomon Schofield. The province’s major economic activities are agriculture, mining, and energy. The province’s name is derived from the Cree language and means “swift flowing river,” a name first given to the Saskatchewan River that flows from west to east across the province.
Saskatchewan is one of Canada’s four western provinces. It is bounded on the west by the province of Alberta, on east by the province of Manitoba, on the north by the Northwest Territories 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 – our borders all appear as straight lines, creating something like a tall rectangle on a map. Along with Alberta, Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces in Canada that doesn’t border an ocean.
Most of the diverse population of Saskatchewan lives in the southern half of the province. The northern half is the rocky Canadian Shield, a geographic area that covers parts of many provinces. The Shield is heavily forested and filled with lakes and rivers, dramatically different from the southern Saskatchewan prairie landscape.
Saskatchewan has more sunny days than any other Canadian province.
Historically, Saskatchewan’s economy was primarily associated with agriculture. Today, increasing diversification has resulted in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting only making up 6.8% of the province’s gross domestic product. The rest is made up mainly of mining, oil and gas, manufacturing and the service sector. Saskatchewan grows a large portion of Canada’s grain. Wheat is the most familiar crop and the one most often associated with the province (there are sheafs of wheat depicted on the coat of arms of Saskatchewan), but other grains (canola, flax, rye, oats, peas, lentils, canary seed, barley and many others) are now produced in greater quantity than wheat. Livestock production is also a major economic activity.
Non-renewable resources have become major economic factors, especially oil, gas and mining. Saskatchewan is one of the biggest oil and gas producing provinces in Canada, and is the world’s largest exporter of potash and uranium. In the northern part of the province, forestry is also a significant industry.
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