257km (160 miles) NW of Regina, 524km (326 miles) SE of Edmonton

Saskatoon (pop. 210,000) retains a distinctly Western air, with cowboys and horse trailers as numerous as flame-haired University of Saskatchewan students on its downtown streets. It's not a glitzy place, but there's a lot more going on here than you'd think from the surface.

The university provides Saskatoon with its economic clout, as it is one of North America's top bioscience research centers. This seemingly remote city on the edge of Canadian prairies is at the center of today's world of agribusiness. In addition, much of the city's recent wealth has come from the Athabasca Basin, which yields potash, uranium, diamonds, petroleum, gas, and gold; Key Lake, in northern Saskatchewan, is one of the world's richest uranium deposits.

Scenically, Saskatoon possesses some distinct natural advantages. The South Saskatchewan River cuts a swath through the city. Spanned by several graceful bridges, its park-lined banks are great for strolling, biking, and jogging.