Motto: (Strong and Free) Fortis et Liber
Flower: Wild Rose
Roughly half of the southwestern section of the province is dominated by mountains and foothills - striking reminders of the glaciers that, over millions of years, formed, moved and receded in the area. Peaks of the Rocky Mountains located in Alberta range from 2 130 to 3 747 metres in elevation.
Over one-half of the province of Alberta, or approximately 350 000 km2, is covered by forests. Of the total forest area, 216 000 km2 are classified as commercially productive forest land and contain both hardwood and softwood species.
Alberta has been a tourist destination from the early days of the twentieth century, with attractions including outdoor locales for skiing, hiking and camping, shopping locales such as West Edmonton Mall, Calgary Stampede, outdoor festivals, professional athletic events, international sporting competitions such as the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games, as well as more eclectic attractions. There are also natural attractions like Elk Island National Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, and the Columbia Icefield.
According to Alberta Economic Development, Edmonton and Calgary both host over four million visitors annually. Banff, Jasper and the Rocky Mountains are visited by about three million people per year.
Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies
Alberta's Rocky Mountains include well known tourist destinations Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The two mountain parks are connected by the scenic Iccefields Parkway. Banff is located 128 km west of Calgary on Highway 1, and Jasper is located 366 km west of Edmonton on Yellowhead Highway. Five of Canada's fourteen UNESCO World Heritage sites are located within the province: Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, Dinosaur Provincial Park and Head-Samshed-In Buffalo Jump.
About 1.2 million people pass through the gates of Calgary's world-famous Stampede, a celebration of Canada's own Wild West and the cattle ranching industry. About 800,000 people enjoy Edmonton's K-Days. Edmonton was the gateway to the only all-Canadian route to the Yukon gold fields, and the only route which did not require gold-seekers to travel the exhausting and dangerous Chilkoot Pass.
Another tourist destination that draws more than 650,000 visitors each year is the Drumheller Valley, located northeast of Calgary. Drumheller, "Dinosaur Capital of The World", offers the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. Drumheller also had a rich mining history being one of Western Canada's largest coal producers during the war years. The Canadian Badlands has much to offer in the way of attractions, cultural events, celebrations, accommodations and service.
Located in east-central Alberta is Alberta Prarie Railway Excursions, a popular tourist attraction operated out of Stettler. It boasts one of the few operable steam trains in the world, offering trips through the rolling prairie scenery. Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions caters to tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Alberta is an important destination for tourists who love to ski and hike; Alberta boasts several world-class ski resorts such as Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, Marmot Basin, Norquay and Nakiska. Hunters and fishermen from around the world are able to take home impressive trophies and tall tales from their experiences in Alberta's wilderness.
Alberta's economy is one of the strongest in Canada, supported by the burgeoning petroleum industry and to a lesser extent, agriculture and technology. The per capita GDP in 2007 was by far the highest of any province in Canada at $74,825. This was 61% higher than the national average of $46,441 and more than twice that of some of the Atlantic provinces. In 2006 the deviation from the national average was the largest for any province in Canadian History
According to the 2006 census, the median annual family income after taxes was $70,986 in Alberta (compared to $60,270 in Canada as a whole).
The Calgary-Edmonton Corridor is the most urbanized region in the province and one of the densest in Canada. The region covers a distance of roughly 400 kilometres north to south. In 2001, the population of the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor was 2.15 million (72% of Alberta's population). It is also one of the fastest growing regions in the country. A 2003 study by TD Band Financial Group found the corridor to be the only Canadian urban centre to amass a U.S. level of wealth while maintaining a Canadian style quality of life, offering universal health care benefits. The study found that GDP per capita in the corridor was 10% above average U.S. metropolitan areas and 40% above other Canadian cities at that time.
According to the Fraser Institute, Alberta also has very high levels of economic freedom. It is by far the most free economy in Canada, and is rated as the 2nd most free economy of U.S. states and Canadian provinces.