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The Queen Elizabeth Islands (French: Îles de la Reine-Élisabeth; formerly Parry Islands or Parry Archipelago) are the northernmost cluster of islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, split between Nunavut and Northwest Territories in Northern Canada.
The islands, together 419,061 km2 (161,800 sq mi) in area, were renamed as a group after Elizabeth II on her coronation as Queen of Canada in 1953. Most are uninhabited, but their main industry is oil drilling.
First sighted by Europeans in 1616, the Queen Elizabeth Islands were not fully explored and charted until the British Northwest Passage expeditions and later Norwegian exploration of the 19th century.
These islands were known as the Parry Archipelago for over 130 years. They were first named after British Arctic explorer Sir William Parry, who sailed there in 1820, aboard the Hecla. Since the renaming of the archipelago in 1953, the term Parry Islands continued to be used for its southwestern part (less Ellesmere Island and Sverdrup Islands). The regional break down of the archipelago is therefore as follows:
Ellesmere Island is the northernmost and by far the largest. The Sverdrup Islands are located west of Ellesmere Island and north of Norwegian Bay. The remaining islands further south and west, but north of Lancaster Sound, Viscount Melville Sound and McClure Strait have been carrying the name Parry Islands, which name until 1953 had also included the Sverdrup Islands and Ellesmere Island. South of Lancaster Sound, Viscount Melville Sound and McClure Strait are the remaining islands of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Many of the islands are among the largest in the world, the largest being Ellesmere Island. Other major islands include Amund Ringnes Island, Axel Heiberg Island, Bathurst Island, Borden Island, Cornwall Island, Cornwallis Island, Devon Island, Eglinton Island, Ellef Ringnes Island, Mackenzie King Island, Melville Island, and Prince Patrick Island.
Other smaller but notable islands include; Beechey Island ( ), which held the graves of Petty Officer John Torrington, Royal Marine Private William Braine, and Able Seaman John Hartnell, three members of Sir John Franklin's crew, Hans Island ( ), a small, uninhabited barren knoll measuring 1.3 km2 (0.50 sq mi) whose ownership is disputed by Canada and Denmark, the Cheyne Islands ( ), three small (0.73 km2 (0.28 sq mi) together) islands that are Important Bird Area (#NU049) and a Key Migratory Bird Terrestrial Habitat site (NU site 5) and Skraeling Island ( ) an important archaeological site where Inuit (Dorset, Thule) and Norse artifacts have been found. They consist of Silurian and Carboniferous rocks covered with tundra.
With a population of less than 400, the islands are nearly uninhabited. There are only three permanently inhabited places in the islands. The two municipalities are the hamlets of Resolute (population 229 as of the 2006 census), on Cornwallis Island, and Grise Fiord (population 141 as of the 2006 census), on Ellesmere Island. Alert with a population of 5 as of the 2006 census is an Environment Canada weather station, a Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) atmosphere monitoring laboratory on Ellesmere Island, has several temporary inhabitants due to the co-located CFS Alert. Eureka, a small research base on Ellesmere Island, has a population of zero but at least 8 staff on a continuous rotational basis.
Only seasonally occupied are Camp Hazen on Ellesmere Island, McGill Arctic Research Station on Axel Heiberg Island, and Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island.
Until 1999, the Queen Elizabeth Islands were part of the Baffin Region of the Northwest Territories.
With the creation of the Nunavut in 1999 all islands and fractions of islands of the archipelago east of the 110th meridian west became part of Qikiqtaaluk Region of the new territory, which was the major portion of the archipelago. The rest remained with the now-reduced Northwest Territories. Borden Island, Mackenzie King Island and Melville Island were divided between the two territories.
Prince Patrick Island, Eglinton Island and Emerald Island are the only notable islands that are now completely part of the Northwest Territories.
Below the level of the territory, there is the municipal level of administration. On that level, there are only two municipalities, Resolute and Grise Fiord, with an aggregate area of 450 km2 (170 sq mi) (0.11 percent of the area of the Queen Elizabeth Islands), but with most of the population of the archipelago (370 out of 375). The remaining 99.09 percent are unincorporated area, with a census 2006 population of five, all in Alert.
According to the Atlas of Canada there are 34 larger and 2,092 smaller islands in the archipelago. With the exception of Ellesmere Island, they fall into two groups, the Sverdrup Islands and the Parry Islands:
|Axel Heiberg||Sverdrup||NU||Outlook Peak||2,210||7,250||43,178||16,671||7||32|
|Buckingham Island||Parry||NU||Mount Windsor||150||490||137||53||137|
|Devon||Parry||NU||Devon Ice Cap||1,920||6,300||55,247||21,331||6||27|
|Ellef Ringnes||Sverdrup||NU||Isachsen Dome||260||850||11,295||4,361||16||69|
|Helena Island||Parry||NU||average in southern hills||220||720||327||126||85|
|King Christian||Sverdrup||NU||King Christian Mountain||165||541||645||249||60||420|
|Little Cornwallis Island||Parry||NU||412||159||75|
|Lowther Island||Parry||NU||raised beach||106.5||349||145||56||133|
|Mackenzie King||Parry||NU/NT||Castel Butte||300||980||5,048||1,949||26||115|
|remaining 2,092 islands||NU/NT||2,321||896||...||...|
|Queen Elizabeth||NU/NT||Barbeau Peak||2,616||8,583||419,061||161,800||...||...||Coordinates:|