Territoires du Nord-Ouest

Dernière mise à jour le
May 14, 2024

The Northwest Territories in figures

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Le contexte socio-économique

The Northwest Territories (NWT) is One of Canada's three territories, along with Yukon and Nunavut, and have an area of approximately 1.14 million km². The NWT borders the Arctic Ocean and the mainland is complemented by 94 islands in the Arctic archipelago.

The population of these territories is relatively small. It represents approximately 45,000 inhabitants in 2021, with the majority living in the capital city of Yellowknife. La low population density, less than 0.01 inhabitants/km², is explained by the extreme weather conditions that prevail for almost three quarters of the year.

The NWT government recognizes 11 official languages, most of which are spoken by indigenous peoples.

The proportion of Francophones living in the Northwest Territories is relatively low. According to 2016 census data from Statistics Canada, it was 2.5%, or about 1,125 people, living mainly in Yellowknife. The Francophone community is active there, with schools, associations and cultural events to promote the French language and culture in the region.

The government

Since 2019, the Prime Minister has Caroline Cochrane. The Northwest Territories has a single government system, largely due to their relatively small population and geographic remoteness. They have devolution agreements with the federal government, which transfer certain powers and responsibilities from the federal government to the territorial governments. This devolution was designed to give the Northwest Territories greater control over their own governance and to better meet the needs of their unique population.

The economy of the territories

The TNOs have a small but diversified economy. It is important to note that The NWT economy is influenced by factors such as geography, climate, and population size, which can make economic growth more difficult than in more populated areas of the country. Therefore, it is very highly exposed to volatility in commodity prices (such as the prices of hydrocarbons, non-metallic minerals, and diamonds) and is therefore largely dependent on state subsidies.

The Government of the NWT is committed to supporting economic growth and diversification and wants to do so. Strengthen the constitution of a NWT workforce. For this, theCanada—Northwest Territories Agreement on the Territorial Nominee Program was created and allows in particular tospeed up the process of accessing Canadian permanent residence for foreign nationals eligible. It has two components: one aims to meet the specific needs of employers and the second focuses on businesses.

The main economic assets and the flagship industries

The economy of the Northwest Territories is dominated by extractive industries, such as mining, oil and natural gas, as well as commercial fishing.

THEmining is an integral part of the economy of the Northwest Territories. The Northwest Territories also has oil and gas resources important. In 2020, mining and oil/gas extraction represented 14.4% of total GDP while the public administration sector represented 20.4% of total GDP. Diamond is the main commodity of exploitation and represents 87% of mineral extractions and 17.9% of territorial GDP.

Sunset over the capital Yellowknife

The tourism also represents an important industry in the Northwest Territories, with attractions such as Northern Lights, national parks, lakes and rivers for fishing and outdoor activities. The cities of yellowknife, Inuvik and Hay River are popular destinations for visitors. The TNOs also have manufacturing companies, particularly in the construction, food processing and energy production sectors.

Finally, the Government of the Northwest Territories is the largest employer in the region, providing services such as health, education and social services to the population.

Les spécificités du marché du travail par secteurs d’activité


Extraction of raw materials is the most important sector of activity of the Northwest Territories. The subsoil of the region is extremely rich and diverse. There are multiple rare and/or precious mineral resources, first and foremost the diamond. The region also has significant deposits of gold, silver, iron, tungsten, lead and zinc.

Major mining companies in the region include Arctic Canadian Diamond Company, De Beers Canada and Diavik Diamond Mines.

Energy sector

The oil and gas sector is a major economic driver in the NWT with companies like Imperial Oil, Shell, ExxonMobil and MGM Energy.

The territories hold 37% of Canada's marketable light crude oil resources and 35% of the country's natural gas resources. There are active oil fields in Norman Wells and to Tulita.


The Northwest Territories has challenging weather conditions, with short growing seasons and extreme temperatures in winter. However, despite these challenges, agriculture and aquaculture are growing in the region.

The most common crops are hay, wheat, barley, and canola, which are mainly intended for local and regional consumption, although some are exported to neighboring provinces. Local producers have also started experimenting with new crops such as Linen and camelina.

In addition, thetrout and salmon farming is in development in the NWT. Aquaculture farms are generally located near rivers or lakes to facilitate the flow of water and food for fish. These farms produce mainly for local markets, but some fish are also exported to nearby provinces.


Tourism is an important sector, especially in national parks like the Wood Buffalo National Park, the Aulavik National Park And the Nahanni National Park. These parks attract visitors from around the world who want to experience the natural beauty of the region. The NWT also offers great — if not the best — opportunities toObserve the Northern Lights around the world, in autumn and winter.

The Nahanni National Park is one of the most spectacular and remote national parks in Canada. The site is classified in UNESCO world heritage because of its unique geology and archaeological sites of the Dene culture. The park covers an area of over 30,000 km², making it one of the largest parks in the country. It takes its name from the Nahanni River, which runs through the Mackenzie Mountains and numerous canyons that can be up to 1,200 meters deep. The river plunges from a 90-meter cliff to form The Virginia Falls, twice as high as Niagara Falls.

Le commerce international et les accords commerciaux

The bilateral relationship with France is not very significant. Exports to France in 2016 represented 41,000 Canadian dollars (mainly art objects), while imports from France were zero.

The presence of French groups in the territories is currently limited. Foraco Drilling LTD is a drilling and mineral extraction subsidiary whose head office is based in Marseille and which is present in 22 countries including Canada, in Yellowknife.

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