The southern quarter of the province is prairie, ranging from shortgrass prairie in the southeastern corner to mixed grass prairie in an arc to the west and north of it.
The central aspen parkland region extending in a broad arc between the prairies and the forests, from Calgary, north to Edmonton, and then east to Lloydminster, contains the most fertile soil in the province and most of the population.
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It is the most northerly major city in Canada, and serves as a gateway and hub for resource development in northern Canada.
The region, with its proximity to Canada's largest oil fields, has most of western Canada's oil refinery capacity.
Its highest point is 3,747 m (12,293 ft) at the summit of Mount Columbia in the Rocky Mountains along the southwest border while its lowest point is 152 m (499 ft) on the Slave River in Wood Buffalo National Park in the northeast.
With the exception of the semi-arid steppe of the south-eastern section, the province has adequate water resources.
There are numerous rivers and lakes used for swimming, fishing and a range of water sports.
There are three large lakes, Lake Claire (1,436 km (451 sq mi)), and Lake Athabasca (7,898 square kilometres (3,049 sq mi)) which lies in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The land grant policy to the railroads served as a means to populate the province in its early years.