Western Canada is composed of four provinces, westernmost of the country. Combined, these provinces make up nearly 29 percent of the Canadian territory. These provinces constitute an area of 2.9 million square kilometers. This geographical entity is considered the seventh largest landmass on the planet. There is an estimated 11.2 million people living in these provinces.
Western Canada is an important part of the overall Canadian economy in terms of industry as well as exported goods. In 2014, the gross domestic product (GDP) was calculated as consisting of 38 percent of Canadian industry. The exported goods sector consisted of 42 percent.
The Provinces and Major Cities
The four provinces that make up Western Canada are British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. British Columbia is home to over 4.5 million citizens. Its capital is the city of Victoria, although Vancouver houses the majority of the population with almost 2.5 million residents. Manitoba has over 1.2 million people, with Winnipeg as its major city. Alberta has a population of over 4.1 million people. Edmonton is its capital, although Calgary is a similarly important location, and home to a larger population. Saskatchewan has a little over 1.1 million residents and calls the city of Regina its capital.
These provinces and their cities fall under the jurisdiction of the Western Economic Diversification Canada agency. It is more simply referred to as WD. The organization deals with the economic development of the western portion of the country by investing in a variety of fiscal ventures.
Natural Resources and Major Industries
The two main type of natural resources among the Western Canadian provinces are energy and agriculture. British Columbia is best known for its coniferous forests as well as its natural gas and coal sources. The region also has isolated base metal deposits. The British Columbian rivers, in particular the Peace and Columbia, have been utilized for hydroelectricity. Viable agricultural land is restricted to the southwest portion and the valley areas of the interior. British Columbia does have a thriving fish industry due to the fish populations found in major rivers such as Fraser and Skeena.
Alberta is known for its fossil fuels and agricultural prospects. The province has been abundantly useful in producing coal, oil, and gas. Alberta is most known for its low-viscosity oil, which is readily available. The substantial use of this type of oil has led to reduced production. This has caused the industry to turn its attention towards the production of heavy oil. The extraction of this natural oil and bitumen, however, is not as easy as its counterpart and also requires considerable technology and funding. The workable land is present in the south of the province.
Saskatchewan is known as the largest agricultural prospect in Canada. It is currently the primary wheat source in the country and is also a considerable contributor for other crops and grains. In addition, the province produces a large quantity of potash, petroleum, and coal. It is also the second major resource for Uranium in Canada.
Manitoba has a variety of resources at its disposal. These include mineral production, hydroelectric power, and agriculture. Nickel is the most widely sourced mineral with copper, precious metals, lead, and zinc also heavily mined. The Nelson River is the major source of hydroelectric power in the province, with other rivers such as the Churchill also holding much promise. It also has a considerable fish population as well as forest resources.
Mining is one of the largest sectors in Western Canada. An abundance of natural resources supporting the industry means that some of the largest mining companies in the country are immersed in these four provinces. The top mining organization Agrium Inc., sources potash from Saskatchewan. PotashCorp, Inc., the six highest performing company in Canada, also mines potash from the province.
Suncor Energy, the third highest grosser, mines bitumen from Alberta. The company is the largest producer of the natural resource. Walter Energy is invested in coal mining in British Columbia. Vancouver is also home to Goldcorp Inc., and First Quantum Minerals, Ltd. These companies are both invested in mining minerals. Hudbay Minerals Inc., has been involved in mineral mining from Manitoba for over eighty years.
The economy of Western Canada has certainly impacted the rest of the country. Nonetheless, the markets of these four provinces can still be quite unstable. This is largely due to the reliance on natural resources. The total fiscal wellbeing of Western Canada is dependent on the performance of the natural resources industry.