Comprising Nunavut's eastern and High Arctic islands, this region reaches from the swampy, forested isles of James Bay to the jagged peaks of Ellesmere Island, 3000km north. Half of Nunavut's population lives here, and visitors will find the best scenery, outdoor opportunities and tourism infrastructure.
Among Nunavut's outlying communities, Pangnirtung, or 'Pang,' is the best destination, with a thriving artistic scene and outdoor opportunities galore. Located 40km south of the Arctic Circle, Pang's natural beauty is stunning, set on a fjord and towered over by steep Mt Duval. It's the gateway to even more spectacular scenery at Auyuittuq National Park.
Muddy, dusty, littered and busy, Rankin grew up around nickel mining in the late fifties and is now the Kivalliq's largest community. New goldmines and mineral exploration means it's still an important center. It's a base for accessing Kivalliq, and there's good char and grayling fishing close to town.
Katannilik Territorial Park
One of Nunavut's finest parks is close to Iqaluit. Katannilik means 'place of waterfalls,' and comprises two main features. A Canadian Heritage waterway, aquamarine Soper River splashes 50 navigable kilometers through a deep, fertile valley, past cascades, caribou, gemstone deposits and dwarf-willow forest to Kimmirut (population 455; www.kimmirut.ca).
Quttinirpaaq National Park
If you like remote places and have a fortune to squander, visit Canada's second-biggest park, way up on Ellesmere Island. Fossil finds up here suggest that 4 million years ago, when camels roamed the forests, it was T-shirt territory. Now it boasts one of the world's most inhospitable climates.
Auyuittuq National Park
Among the globe's most flabbergasting places, Auyuittuq (ah-you-ee-tuk) means 'the land that never melts.' Appropriately, there are plenty of glaciers in this 19,500-sq-km park, plus jagged peaks, vertiginous cliffs and deep valleys. Hikers trek the 97km Akshayuk Pass (crossing the Arctic Circle) in summer, when it's snow-free.
Say 'Cambridge Bay' and even Inuit shiver. This wind-wracked settlement on Victoria Island is the regional center. A federal High Arctic Research Station is due to open here in 2017, potentially transforming the community. The Northwest Passage's gradual opening is also a crucial local issue. The Inuinnaqtun dialect is spoken here.
The upside of living in Resolute, on Cornwallis Island, is you don't have to mow your lawn. The downside is everything else. A clutch of minuscule homes in a wind-lashed gravel desert, Canada's worst-climate community was founded when the feds lured the Inuit here to shore up national sovereignty.