Saguenay is located in a depression in the Canadian shield with a somewhat more temperate climate than the surrounding region, allowing agriculture and human settlement to take place. The relatively small and concentrated Lac St-Jean area where the city is located can be described as an isolated "oasis" in the middle of the vast remote wilderness of Northern Quebec.
Few roads connect with the area from the south and east, and only one road connects from the northwest. No roads go north from the area into the wilderness; the last roads north end just a short distance from the city-still within the Lac St-Jean area. There are no human settlements due north of Saguenay all the way to the Canadian Arctic islands, except for a few isolated Cree and Inuit villages.