Arviat is the southernmost community on the Nunavut mainland and is close to the geographical centre of Canada. In Arviat, Inuktitut and English are primarily spoken, having the third largest population in Nunavut, behind Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit. From the 2011 census to the 2016 census there was a population increase of 14.6%. The mayor of Arviat is Robert Leonard. The hamlet of Arviat also possesses a Tim Hortons in the Northern Store and a self-serve Tim Hortons in the Quick Stop (owned by Northern Store).
Cargo and passenger air service is provided by Calm Air/First Air out of Arviat Airport.
Hunting and fishing are very active in the community; they are the primary source of sustenance. Four locally operated stores - Padlei Co-op, Northern Stores, Artic Connection and Eskimo Point Lumber Supply - carry a wide range of products.
To the south, the town of Churchill, Manitoba is accessible by boat (summer and fall only), snowmobile and Bombardier from Arviat and is often travelled to for supplies.
Arviat is well known around the Arctic for its artistic qualities. It is a thriving community with many talented musicians: Susan Aglukark, a well known musician; Simon "Johnny Cash of the North" Sigyariaq; the band Uniaqtuq, with Arsene, Pelagie and Mary Angalik; the Arviat Band, with John and Billy Kuksuk, Paul Kattau and others; the Irksuk band, played by Paul Irksuk and sons. All have had CDs recorded commercially.
Many types of wildlife are abundant. Within the vicinity of Arviat, polar bears, millions of migratory birds, beluga whales, and caribou are often spotted.
The only access is by air and snowmobile, but the Nunavut government and the federal Senate member for Nunavut, Dennis Patterson, are investigating the possibility of a highway from Thompson, Lynn Lake, or Gillam to Rankin Inlet, through Arviat. Like other Arctic coast communities there is an annual sealift but it is not available to passengers.
Arviat was originally inhabited by the Paallirmiut, a coastal/inland Inuit band. In 1957, dying of starvation, the last remaining Ihalmiut, another Caribou Inuit band, were relocated to Arviat by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Though there are differences between the two bands, they recognize a need to work together in order to benefit the community.
The Hudson Bay Quest sled-dog race was run from Churchill to Arviat for the first time in 2004.
The community has been served by the QINIQ network (www.qiniq.com) since 2005. QINIQ is a fixed wireless service to homes and businesses, connecting to the outside world via a satellite backbone. The QINIQ network is designed and operated by SSi Micro Ltd. In 2017, the network was upgraded to 4G LTE technology, and 2G-GSM for mobile voice.
Based on the Köppen climate classification Arviat has a subarctic climate, but has a polar climate by the Nordenskjöld classification, and is north of the arctic tree line. With a yearly mean of −9.3 °C (15.3 °F) it is the third-warmest in Nunavut and the maximum of 33.9 °C (93.0 °F) is second only to Kugluktuk. Arviat has a yearly rainfall of 174.4 mm (6.87 in), the fourth-wettest in Nunavut, but only 112.4 cm (44.3 in) of snow, the third-least.