Provinces of Canada

Buy data    Donate


Update 12 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2013-06-30. It corrects the French name of Newfoundland and Labrador by inserting a missing hyphen.

The name of Newfoundland changed to "Newfoundland and Labrador" ("Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador" in French) on 2001-12-06. This is reflected in Change Notice 8 to FIPS PUB 10-4, dated 2002-06-28, and in ISO 3166-2 Newsletter I-2 (2002-05-21). Subsequently the province's postal designator was changed from NF to NL. ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-4, dated 2002-12-10, made the corresponding change to the ISO code. The name "Yukon Territory" was changed to "Yukon" in the ISO standard on 2014-10-29.

Nunavut split from Northwest Territories on 1999-04-01. This is reflected in Change Notice 3 to FIPS PUB 10-4, dated 1999-05-17, which added Nunavut, and assigned new codes to it and to Northwest Territories. Update I-1 to ISO 3166-2 (2000-06-21) added Nunavut, with NU as its code.

Country overview: 

Short nameCANADA
ISO codeCA
LanguagesEnglish (en), French (fr)
Time zoneZones
CapitalOttawa, Ontario


Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867. In 1926, an Imperial Conference clarified that the dominions were autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status to Great Britain. The formal name "Dominion of Canada" was phased out from the 1950s to 1982, in favor of simply "Canada". The British Commonwealth of Nations was formally inaugurated on 1931-12-11, with Canada and Newfoundland as members. The Parliament of the United Kingdom retained the power to approve or reject some amendments to the Canadian Constitution until 1982.

Canada began with four provinces in 1867. There have been territorial acquisitions since then, but only one during the 20th century: Newfoundland, in 1949.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Canada
  2. Dutch: Canada
  3. Finnish: Kanada
  4. French: Canada m
  5. German: Kanada n
  6. Icelandic: Kanada
  7. Italian: Canada m
  8. Norwegian: Canada
  9. Portuguese: Canadá m
  10. Russian: Канада
  11. Spanish: Canadá m
  12. Swedish: Canada, Kanada
  13. Turkish: Kanada

Origin of name: 

native word kanata: settlements; named by Jacques Cartier in 1536

Primary subdivisions: 

Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories (French: territoires).

British ColumbiaCA.BCBCCA0259bccpVB.C.C.-B.-8:00~4,400,057944,735364,764Victoria
New BrunswickCA.NBNBCA0413nkcpEN.B.N.-B.-4:00~751,17172,90828,150Fredericton
Newfoundland and LabradorCA.NFNLCA0510nfcpANfld.T.-N.-3:30~514,536405,212156,453Saint John's
Northwest TerritoriesCA.NTNTCA1361ntctXN.W.T.T.N.-O.-7:00~41,4621,346,106519,734Yellowknife
Nova ScotiaCA.NSNSCA0712nscpBN.S.N.-É.-4:00~921,72755,28421,345Halifax
NunavutCA.NUNUCA1462nuctX  -5:00~31,9062,093,190808,185Iqaluit
Prince Edward IslandCA.PEPECA0911picpCP.E.I.Î-P.-É.-4:00~140,2045,6602,185Charlottetown
13 divisions33,476,6889,984,6703,855,103
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
  • ISO: codes from ISO 3166-2. These are the same as "postal designators" - abbreviations used by Canadian Post.
  • FIPS: codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • SGC: province and territory codes from Statistics Canada's Standard Geographical Classification. Groups of provinces with the same first
    digit can be referred to as a region. Region names are Atlantic (1), Prairies (4), and Territories (6).
  • MARC: Machine Readable Cataloging codes
  • Type: p = province; t = territory.
  • Post: Canadian postal codes have the format "ana nan", where each a is a letter and each n is a digit. The first letter in a postal code
    can be used to locate the province. Some provinces can use any one of several letters. This column shows the letters that identify each
  • Conv-E: Conventional abbreviations used by Anglophone Canadians before standardization. Sometimes Newf. for Newfoundland, P.Q. for
    Quebec (Province of Quebec).
  • Conv-F: Conventional abbreviations used by Francophone Canadians before standardization.
  • Zone: Main time zone for province. Convert from UTC to local time by adding this number of hours. Tilde (~) indicates areas where
    daylight saving time is in effect during summer.
  • Population: 2011-05-10 census.
  • Area: Source [2].

Further subdivisions:

See the Counties of Canada page.

The subdivisions of the Canadian provinces and territories are varied in size, status, and stability. The eastern provinces tend to be divided into counties; the western provinces, sections, divisions, or districts; and Yukon is only subdivided for electoral or census purposes. Prince Edward Island appears to have been subdivided into Prince, Queens, and Kings Counties for as long as it has been a province. Northwest Territory had been subdivided into the districts of Franklin, Keewatin, and Mackenzie since 1912, although their borders had been somewhat modified; then, about 1980, it was changed to five districts (Baffin, Fort Smith, Inuvik, Keewatin, and Kitikmeot).

Other provinces are more complex. The units of local government include cantons, cities, community councils, counties, districts, divisions, muncipalities, parishes, sections, towns, and villages. There are sub-varieties, including county regional municipalities, district municipalities, metropolitan municipalities, and municipal townships. Many provinces have more than one level of subdivision. Most of them have changed their subdivisions several times. (See source [10].)

Territorial extent: 

  1. British Columbia is separated from Alaska by an indefinite boundary in coastal waters. It contains the Queen Charlotte Islands and Dundas Island, but not Dall Island, Prince of Wales Island, or Sitklan Island. The boundary with Washington follows the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula, then turns north between Canada's Sidney Island, South Pender Island, and Saturna Island, and the United States's San Juan Island, Stuart Island, and Waldron Island, until it meets the longitude of 49° N.
  2. New Brunswick is divided from Maine by a line that runs down the Saint Croix River and passes between Deer Island, Campobello Island, Grand Manan Island, and adjacent islets on the Canadian side, across from West Quoddy Head, the easternmost point in the United States.
  3. Newfoundland and Labrador consists of the large island of Newfoundland, a large mainland area on the northeast coast (Labrador), and adjacent islands. Labrador has sometimes been abbreviated LB as if it were a province name.
  4. Northwest Territories includes the Canadian Arctic islands north of 70° N. and between 110° and 136° W. (to a first approximation; for a more accurate description of the boundary with Nunavut, see for example this page ). The largest Arctic islands totally within Northwest Territories are Banks Island and Prince Patrick Island. Northwest Territories also includes large parts of Victoria Island and Melville Island.
  5. Nova Scotia includes Sable Island in the Atlantic Ocean.
  6. Nunavut includes all Canadian islands in Hudson Bay, James Bay, the Hudson Strait, Ungava Bay, and the Arctic Ocean between the eastern border of Northwest Territories and the northern tip of Labrador (see source [3]). The border between Labrador and Nunavut runs along Killiniq Island. The division between Nunavut and Greenland follows the Robeson Channel, Kennedy Channel, Kane Basin, Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, and Labrador Bay.
  7. Ontario includes Main Duck Island in Lake Ontario, and Pelee Island in Lake Erie. Middle Island, an islet lying off Pelee Island, is the southernmost point of land in Canada. Ontario also includes Manitoulin Island, between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, the largest lake island in the world. In Lake Superior, Caribou Island belongs to Ontario.
  8. Quebec includes Anticosti Island and the Îles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
  9. Yukon includes Herschel Island in the Arctic Ocean.
  10. Four provinces or territories meet at approximately 60° N., 102° W.: Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan.

The UN LOCODE page  for Canada lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Alberta: Named for Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, wife of the then-Governor General of Canada and daughter of Queen Victoria of England.
  2. British Columbia: British possession, on the Columbia River, named by Capt. Robert Gray for his vessel Columbia, in turn named for Cristopher Columbus.
  3. Labrador: Portuguese lavrador: laborer, farmer. Probably for João Fernandes, an explorer and farmer.
  4. Manitoba: Probably from Cree maniotwapow: the strait of the spirit, from a belief that a natural noise caused by pebbles on Manitoba Island was the sound of a spirit beating a drum.
  5. New Brunswick: Named in honor of King George III of England, a descendant of the House of Brunswick (Germany).
  6. Newfoundland: Called a "new found isle" by discoverer, John Cabot.
  7. Northwest Territories: Descriptive.
  8. Nova Scotia: Latin for New Scotland.
  9. Nunavut: Inuktitut for our land.
  10. Ontario: Named for Lake Ontario. From native word, possibly onittariio: beautiful lake.
  11. Prince Edward Island: Named for Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, father of Queen Victoria of England.
  12. Quebec: From the Algonquian word for narrow passage, referring to the Saint Lawrence River at Cape Diamond.
  13. Saskatchewan: Named for the Saskatchewan River. From Cree Kisiskatchewani Sipi: swift-flowing river.
  14. Yukon: Named for the Yukon River. From native name Yu-kun-ah: great river.

Change history: 

  1. Around 1754, the lands which now form Canada were divided between France and Great Britain. Nouvelle-France (New France) was the name for all French territory in North America. Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were British colonies. The Hudson's Bay Company held a charter from King Charles II of England, under which it governed Rupert's Land.
  2. 1763-02-10: New France ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris. France retained only the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which now constitute a territorial collectivity of France.
  3. 1763-10-07: Island of Saint John's (French Île Saint-Jean; present-day Prince Edward Island) and Cape Breton Island (French Île Royale) annexed to Nova Scotia. Labrador coast, Anticosti Island, and the Madeleine Islands annexed to Newfoundland.
  4. 1769: Saint John's Island colony (Île Saint-Jean) split from Nova Scotia. Its capital was Charlottetown.
  5. 1774: By the Quebec Act, Quebec province was extended to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and incorporated the Labrador coast, Anticosti Island, and the Madeleine Islands.
  6. 1783-09-03: Treaty of Paris recognized independence of the United States. The part of Quebec south of the Great Lakes became an acknowledged part of the United States.
  7. 1784-06-18: New Brunswick province and Cape Breton Island colony split from Nova Scotia by an Order in Council. Sydney was the capital of Cape Breton Island.
  8. 1788: Fredericton became capital of New Brunswick.
  9. 1791-08-24: Quebec province split into Upper Canada (corresponding to Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec).
  10. 1792-07-26: Capital of Upper Canada established at Niagara, which was simultaneously renamed Newark. The name change was reversed in 1794. The town is now Niagara-on-the-Lake.
  11. 1796-02-01: Capital of Upper Canada moved from Niagara to York.
  12. 1799: Name of Saint John's Island changed to Prince Edward Island.
  13. 1809: Labrador coast and Anticosti Island transferred to Newfoundland.
  14. 1818: Treaty of 1818 fixed the boundary between the United States and Canada at 49° North latitude, westward from Lake of the Woods to the Oregon Territory, which became a condominium of the United States and Great Britain.
  15. 1820: Cape Breton Island merged with Nova Scotia.
  16. 1825: Anticosti Island, and the Labrador coast from Rivière Saint-Jean to Anse Sablon, transferred from Newfoundland to Lower Canada.
  17. 1834: Name of capital of Upper Canada changed from York to Toronto.
  18. 1841-02-10: Under Act of Union, name of Lower Canada changed to Canada East, and Upper Canada to Canada West. The two were united to form the province of Canada. Its capital was Kingston, now in Ontario.
  19. 1842-11-10: Webster-Ashburton Treaty settled the boundary between U.S. and Canada (Maine/New Brunswick, Minnesota/Hudson's Bay Company).
  20. 1844: Capital of Canada province moved from Kingston to Montréal (source [1]).
  21. 1846: Oregon Boundary Treaty established the 49° line as the boundary between the Oregon territory and British possessions. The British part was named New Caledonia.
  22. 1849: Vancouver Island organized as a colony.
  23. 1849: Capital of Canada province moved from Montréal to Toronto.
  24. 1851: Capital of Canada province moved from Toronto to Quebec City.
  25. 1855: Capital of Canada province moved from Quebec City to Toronto.
  26. 1855: Status of Newfoundland changed to dominion, with Labrador as its dependency.
  27. 1858: New Caledonia was renamed British Columbia and organized as a colony.
  28. 1859: Capital of Canada province moved from Toronto to Quebec City.
  29. 1859: The remaining unorganized territory between British Columbia and the Arctic Ocean, and between Alaska and Rupert's Land, was claimed by Great Britain and named The North-Western Territory.
  30. 1862: Stickeen territory was split from North-Western territory, extending northward from British Columbia to 62° North latitude.
  31. 1863: Stickeen territory split between British Columbia and North-Western territory, with the line of division following 60° North latitude.
  32. 1865: Capital of Canada province moved from Quebec City to Ottawa.
  33. 1866-11: Vancouver Island merged with British Columbia, which had now reached its present-day borders.
  34. 1867-07-01: By the British North America Act, Canada became a dominion. It had four provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec (these last two formed by splitting the former province of Canada). Its capital was Ottawa.
  35. 1870-07-15: Rupert's Land ceded by the Hudson's Bay Company and merged with North-Western territory to form The North-West Territories. Canada assumed the governance of North-West territories. Manitoba province created, consisting of about the southern third of present-day Manitoba.
  36. 1871-07-20: British Columbia became a province of Canada.
  37. 1873-07-01: Prince Edward Island became a province of Canada.
  38. 1880-09-01: Great Britain transferred its claims to all North American arctic islands to Canada.
  39. 1881-07-01: Manitoba annexed part of Northwest Territories.
  40. 1898-06-13: Yukon territory split from Northwest Territories.
  41. 1905-09-01: Alberta and Saskatchewan provinces formed from parts of Northwest Territories.
  42. 1912-05-15: Parts of Northwest Territories annexed to Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec provinces.
  43. 1927-03-01: Labrador hinterland transferred from Quebec province to the dominion of Newfoundland.
  44. 1934-02-16: Status of Newfoundland changed from dominion to crown colony.
  45. 1949-03-31: Newfoundland merged with Canada, becoming a province. Labrador, formerly its dependency, became part of the new province.
  46. 1967-01-18: Yellowknife became capital of Northwest Territories. Formerly, the region had been administered from Ottawa.
  47. ~1993: The Canada Post designator for Quebec was PQ, for "Province du Québec", until it was changed to the current QC. The exact date of the change calls for further research.
  48. 1999-04-01: Nunavut territory split from Northwest Territories (former FIPS code CA06). Canada Post continued to use NT as the designator for both Nunavut and Northwest Territories until 2000-12-12. See source [9] for a sidelight.
  49. 2001-12-06: Name of Newfoundland changed to Newfoundland and Labrador. (Date of proclamation; the Canadian Senate removed the last legal barrier by passing a constitutional amendment on 2001-11-20.)
  50. 2002-10-21: Canada Post changed postal designator of Newfoundland and Labrador from NF to NL (source [8]). A six-month grace period was allowed for the changeover.
  51. 2003-04-01: Name of Yukon Territory changed to Yukon (see source [7]).

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Alberta: Альберта (Russian)
  2. British Columbia: Britisch Kolumbien (German); Colombie britannique (French); Columbia Británica (Spanish); Colúmbia Britânica (Portuguese); Columbia Britannica (Italian); New Caledonia (obsolete); Британская Колумбия (Russian)
  3. Manitoba: Манитоба (Russian)
  4. New Brunswick: Neubraunschweig (German); Nueva Brunswick (Spanish); Nouveau-Brunswick (French); Nova Brunswick (Portuguese)
  5. Newfoundland and Labrador: Neufundland [n] (German); Newfoundland (obsolete); Terra Nova (Portuguese); Terranova (Italian, Spanish); Terre-Neuve (French-obsolete); Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador (French); Ньюфаундленд (Russian)
  6. Northwest Territories: Nordwestgebiete, Nordwest-Territorien (German); Territoires du Nord-Ouest (French); Territori di Nordovest (Italian); Territorios del Noroeste (Spanish); Territórios do Noroeste (Portuguese)
  7. Nova Scotia: Acadia (obsolete, also refers to New Brunswick); Neuschottland [n] (German); Nouvelle-Écosse (French); Nova Escócia (Portuguese); Nueva Escocia (Spanish)
  8. Ontario: Ontário (Portuguese); Upper Canada (obsolete); Онтарио (Russian)
  9. Prince Edward Island: Île de Saint-Jean (obsolete); Île du Prince-Édouard (French); Ilha do Príncipe Eduardo (Portuguese); Isla Príncipe Eduardo (Spanish); Isola Principe Edoardo (Italian); Prinz Edward-Insel (German)
  10. Quebec: Lower Canada (obsolete); Québec (French, Italian, Portuguese); Quebeque (Portuguese-variant); Квебек (Russian)
  11. Saskatchewan: Саскачеван (Russian)
  12. Yukon: Territoire du Yukon (French-obsolete); Yukon Territory (obsolete); Yukón (Spanish)

Population history:

British Columbia4,400,0574,113,4873,907,7383,724,5003,282,0612,889,2072,744,4672,466,6082,184,6211,873,6741,629,0821,398,464
New Brunswick751,171729,997729,498738,133723,900710,442696,403677,250634,557616,788597,936554,616
Newfoundland and Labrador514,536505,469512,930551,792568,474568,349567,681557,725522,104493,396457,853415,074
Northwest Territories41,46241,46437,36039,67257,64952,23845,47142,60934,80728,73822,99819,313
Nova Scotia921,727913,462908,007909,282899,942873,199847,442828,571788,960756,039737,007694,717
Prince Edward Island140,204135,851135,294134,557129,765126,646122,506118,229111,641108,535104,62999,285


British Columbia1,398,4641,165,210817,861694,263524,582392,480178,65798,17349,45936,24751,52455,000
New Brunswick554,616515,697457,401408,219387,876351,889331,120321,263321,233285,594252,047193,800
Northwest Territories19,31316,00412,0289,3168,1436,50720,12998,96756,44648,0006,6915,700
Nova Scotia694,717642,584577,962512,846523,837492,338459,574450,396440,572387,800330,857276,854
Prince Edward Island99,28598,42995,04788,03888,61593,728103,259109,078108,89194,02180,85762,678



  1. The 1996 census reported a population of 64,404 for Northwest Territories, which included Nunavut at that time. The figures shown above for those territories in 1996 were calculated retroactively.
  2. Prior to 1949, Newfoundland had a separate census. Its population was 289,588 in 1935, and 321,819 in 1945.
  3. Populations of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Yukon included in Northwest Territories before 1900.
  4. Population of Manitoba included in Northwest Territories before 1870.
  5. 1951 figures are duplicated to facilitate comparison of successive censuses.


  1. [1] "A Capital for Canada: conflict and compromise in the nineteenth century", David B. Knight. Chicago: University of Chicago, Dept. of Geography, 1977. It describes six times that the capital of Canada was moved in 1841-1867.
  2. [2] Land and freshwater area, by province and territory  on the Statistics Canada website. Figures given in the table above are total area (land plus freshwater; retrieved 2004-12-30).
  3. [3] (retrieved 2005-11-12) was a description of the boundary of the Nunavut Settlement Area. Schedule I  of the Nunavut Act describes the boundary between Nunavut and N.W.T.
  4. [4] The Canada Year Book 1945. Edmond Cloutier, Ottawa, 1945.
  5. [5] The Canadian Pocket Encyclopedia, 33rd Edition. Quick Canadian Facts, Ltd., Toronto, 1978.
  6. [6] A Historical Atlas of Canada, by D.G.G. Kerr. Thomas Nelson & Sons (Canada), Toronto, 1963.
  7. [7] Abbreviations and symbols for the names of the provinces and territories  on the Natural Resources Canada website; Yukon Territory name change to Yukon  on the Canadian Library and Archives website (both retrieved 2009-07-17).
  8. [8] (retrieved 2002-12-13).
  9. [9] Nunatsiaq News  had an amusing article about the choice of postal abbreviation for Nunavut (retrieved 2002-12-13).
  10. [10] Table of Geographic and Administrative Information ... , on the Natural Resources Canada website, summarizes the secondary divisions of each province and territory (retrieved 2009-07-17).
Back to main statoids page Last updated: 2015-06-30
Copyright © 1999-2005, 2007-2015 by Gwillim Law.