The territory was split from the Northwest Territories in 1898. Receiving royal assent on March 27, 2002, the federal government modernized the Yukon Act to confirm "Yukon", rather than "Yukon Territory", as the current usage standard. Though officially bilingual (English and French), the Yukon Government also recognizes First Nations languages.
At , 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). The territory's climate is Arctic in the north (north of Old Crow), subarctic in the central region, between north of Whitehorse and Old Crow, and has a humid continental climate in the far south, south of Whitehorse and in areas close to the British Columbia border. Several rivers run through Yukon, some being the Stewart River, Peel River, and ever famous Yukon River.
Long before the arrival of Europeans, central and northern Yukon escaped glaciation as it was part of Beringia. The volcanic eruption of Mount Churchill near the Alaska border blanketed southern Yukon with a layer of ash which can still be seen along the Klondike Highway. Coastal and inland First Nations already had extensive trading networks and European incursions into the area only began early in the 19th century with the fur trade, followed by missionaries and the Western Union Telegraph Expedition.
By the end of the 19th century gold miners were trickling in on rumours of gold. This drove a population increase that justified the establishment of a police force, just in time for the start of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. The increased population coming with the gold rush led to the separation of the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.
Sites of archaeological 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. More information is found in the Yukon Archaeology Program.