southwestern region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Formerly part of MacKenzie district, Fort Smith region was created in the early 1970s by the territorial government. The region extends northward from the Alberta border to encompass Great Slave Lake and the eastern portion of Great Bear Lake and stretches eastward from the Yukon border to the upper branches of the Thelon River, north of central Saskatchewan. Largely a transition zone between boreal coniferous forest and Arctic tundra, it is characterized by the southern Mackenzie Mountains (west), the lowlands of the northward-flowing Mackenzie River (centre), and plateau and plains (east). Fort Smith region is the most populous and productive part of the Territories; its chief settlements, including Yellowknife (capital of the Northwest Territories), Hay River, and Fort Smith (the regional headquarters), are important mining towns. Fur trapping, lumbering, and tourism are other economic activities. American Indians (including Athabaskan-speaking Slave and Dogrib and some Algonquian-speaking Cree) and Metis (descendants of people of mixed Indian and European ancestry) constitute about one-fourth of the region's population. Pop. (2006) 32,272.
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