Iqaluit is the largest city and territorial capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut. It was officially called Frobisher Bay until 1987, after the name of the bay on whose shore it is sited. Iqaluit is located on the south coast of Baffin Island at the head of Frobisher Bay. As of the 2011 census the population was 6,699, an increase of 8.3 percent from the 2006 census; it has the lowest population of any capital city in Canada. Inhabitants of Iqaluit are called Iqalummiut (singular: Iqalummiuq).
Iqaluit was founded in 1942 as an American air base, intended to provide a stop-over and refueling site for short range aircraft being ferried across the Atlantic to support the war effort in Europe. Iqaluit's first permanent inhabitant was Nakasuk, an Inuk guide who helped American Air Force planners to choose a site with a large flat area suitable for a landing strip. The wartime airstrip was known as Crystal Two and was part of the Crimson Route. Long regarded as a campsite and fishing spot by the Inuit, the place chosen had traditionally been named Iqaluit – "place of many fish" in Inuktitut – but Canadian and American authorities named it Frobisher Bay, after the name of the body of water it abuts. For the history of the air base, see Frobisher Bay Air Base.
The Hudson's Bay Company moved its south Baffin operations to the neighbouring valley of Niaqunngut, officially called Apex, in 1949 to take advantage of the airfield. The population of Frobisher Bay increased rapidly during the construction of the Distant Early Warning Line (DEW line, a system of radar stations, see North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)) in the mid-1950s. Hundreds of construction workers, military personnel, and administrative staff moved into the community, and several hundred Inuit followed to take advantage of the access to medical care and jobs the base provided. In 1957, 489 of the town's 1,200 residents were reported to be Inuit. After 1959, the Canadian government established permanent services at Frobisher Bay, including full-time doctors, a school and social services. The Inuit population grew rapidly in response, as the government encouraged Inuit to settle permanently in communities with government services.
Naval Radio Station (NRS) Frobisher Bay, callsign CFI, was established in July 1954 as a result of the closure of NRS Chimo, Quebec. Station CFI was part of the Supplementary Radio network. Because of its remoteness and size, it was very expensive to operate. Advancing technology eventually forced the closure of CFI in 1967.
The American military left Iqaluit in 1963, as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) diminished the strategic value of the DEW line and Arctic airbases, but Frobisher Bay remained the government's administrative and logistical centre for much of the eastern Arctic. In 1964, the first elections were held for a community council, and in 1979 for the first mayor. The founding of the Gordon Robertson Educational Centre, now Inuksuk High School, in the early 1970s at Iqaluit confirmed the government's commitment to the community as an administrative centre. At the time of its founding, it was the sole high school operating in more than one-seventh of Canadian territory.
On 1 January 1987, the name of this municipality was officially changed from "Frobisher Bay" to "Iqaluit" – aligning official usage with the name that the Inuit population had always used (although, many documents still referred to Iqaluit as Frobisher Bay for several years after 1987). In December 1995, Iqaluit was selected to serve as Nunavut's future capital in a territory-wide referendum, in which it was chosen over Rankin Inlet. On 19 April 2001, it was officially redesignated as a city.
Iqaluit was designated by Canada as the host city for the 2010 meeting of the G7 finance ministers, held on 5–6 February. The meeting strained the northern communications technology infrastructure.