The traditional language of the area is Inuinnaqtun and is written using the Latin alphabet rather than the syllabics of the Inuktitut writing system. Like Kugluktuk, Bathurst Inlet and Umingmaktok, syllabics are rarely seen and used mainly by the Government of Nunavut.
Cambridge Bay is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Arctic Ocean's Northwest Passage, a disputed area which the Government of Canada claims are Canadian Internal Waters, while other nations state they are either territorial waters or international waters.
Situated between Dease Strait and Queen Maud Gulf on the southeast coast of Victoria Island (Kitlineq), part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Cambridge Bay is a transportation and administrative centre for the Kitikmeot Region. To the north of the community is Ferguson Lake (Inuinnaqtun: Tahiryuaq or Tahikyoak) which flows into Wellington Bay via the Ekalluk River. The Ekalluk River is both an important commercial fishing and archaeological area, and of particular importance is the short section of the river known as Iqaluktuuq.
The area was a traditional hunting and fishing location and archaeological sites are often found. barren-ground caribou, muskox, Arctic char, lake trout and ringed seal were the primary, and remain important food sources. Situated east of Cambridge Bay is Ovayok Territorial Park, which includes the large esker known as Ovayok (Mount Pelly).