The territory was split from the Northwest Territories in 1898 and was named the Yukon Territory. The federal government's Yukon Act, which received royal assent on March 27, 2002, established Yukon as the territory's official name, though Yukon Territory is also still popular in usage and Canada Post continues to use the territory's internationally approved postal abbreviation of YT. Though officially bilingual (English and French), the Yukon Government also recognizes First Nations languages.
At 5,959 m (19,551 ft), Yukon's Mount Logan, in Kluane National Park and Reserve, is the highest mountain in Canada and the second-highest on the North American continent (after Denali in the U.S. state of Alaska). Most of Yukon has a subarctic climate, characterized by long cold winters and brief warm summers. The Arctic Ocean coast has a tundra climate.
Notable rivers include the Yukon River, after which the territory was named, as well as the Pelly, Stewart, Peel, White and Tatshenshini rivers.
The territory is named after the Yukon River, the longest river in Yukon. The name itself is from a contraction of the words in the Gwich'in phrase chųų gąįį han, which means white water river and refers to "the pale colour" of glacial runoff in the Yukon River.
Long before the arrival of Europeans, central and southern Yukon was populated by First Nations people, and the area escaped glaciation. Sites of archeological significance in Yukon hold some of the earliest evidence of the presence of human occupation in North America. The sites safeguard the history of the first people and the earliest First Nations of the Yukon.