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Saguenay is also the name of a territory equivalent to a regional county municipality (TE) coextensive with the city of Saguenay, whose geographical code is 941.
Together with the regional county municipality of Le Fjord-du-Saguenay, it forms the census division (CD) of Le Saguenay-et-son-Fjord (94).
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. However, the remote, paved Route 167/113 heads northwest to the interior town of Chibougamau, providing access to Western Quebec and subsequently, Hudson Bay. No services are available for the 230 km (143 mi) to Chibougamau from the Lac St-Jean area.
Two notable natural disasters have occurred within the current municipal boundaries of Saguenay: the Saint-Jean-Vianney landslide of May 4, 1971, and the Saguenay Flood of 1996. A magnitude 5.9 earthquake on November 25, 1988 also had its epicentre 35 km south of Chicoutimi.