Situated on the NW Atlantic Ocean, just south of Greenland, you will discover Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). Known affectionately as ‘The Rock’ and ‘The Big Land’ respectively, it is here you will discover true exceptionalism and many firsts.
NL is England’s oldest overseas colony and Canada’s youngest province (the only one with two separate regions) which are also named after two dog breeds. NL is also the most homogeneous population of European origin in Canada, yet the most linguistically diverse.
NL is as rich in natural beauty as its history, the only region in all of North America (co-shared with Alaska) with icebergs, whales, oceans, seas, and mountains, imagine that.
As Canada’s best-kept secret, take a few moments to explore everything our province has to offer you because NL, in all its splendor, is certain to capture your heart!
NL was first discovered by Norse Viking Leif Ericson in 1000 and again by Venetian explorer Giovanni Caboto in 1497. NL’s discovery marked the beginning of European expansion to North America. In this regard, Newfoundland and Labrador truly connects the ‘Ole World with the New’.
For nearly half a millennium (452 years to be precise), NL operated primarily as a British fishing colony.
Long before the first Europeans arrived, it had a rich and ancient indigenous history with the arrival of Paleo-Indians to Labrador 6500 BC.
In 1583, British explorer Humphrey Gilbert stood on the shores at St. John’s harbour and laid claim to Newfoundland under a royal order by Queen Elizabeth 1.
Countless wars ensued over the centuries, most notably between France and England, as the naval superpowers of the day battled along our shores for control of the North American continent. Only in 1904, did France finally terminate its last territorial claim, the ‘French shore’ region of western Newfoundland.
On March 31, 1949, NL became the tenth province to enter the Canadian Confederation, but only as “Newfoundland”.
Newfoundland’s legal claim to Labrador (a long-lasting source of dispute for neighboring French Quebec) was only settled in 1927 by a Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruling in London.
Our province’s name was only officially and legally changed to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001 via an amendment to the Constitution of Canada.
Given its remote geographical status along with colonial rule until the mid-20th century, NL retains its uniquely evolved culture and symbolizes a bygone era.
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are described as ‘salt of the earth’. We are known as some of the kindest, most welcoming and colorful, creative individuals you will ever meet. We have been welcoming visitors for over 500 years and our warm spirit is world renowned.
Whether it is our ocean proximity or our dependency on it, anyone who meets us is immediately touched by our charm, our proud, modest demeanor and of course our knack for storytelling. We consider our people to be our greatest asset.
The majority of NL’s population can be traced to the SW England and south and SE Ireland. The province is also home to a French-speaking minority, found mostly in the western region of Newfoundland.
NL’s home to four peoples of Aboriginal ancestry too: the Inuit, the Innu, the Mi’kmaq and the Southern Inuit of NunatuKavut (formerly the Labrador Inuit-Metis). The Inuit are the descendants of the Thule people who migrated to Labrador 800 years ago.
514, 536 people reside in NL. St. John’s, our provincial capital, is the largest city with 106,172 residents.
94.8% of NL’s population (or 487, 808 people) live on the island of Newfoundland with the remaining 5.2% or 26, 728 residing in mainland Labrador.
DID YOU KNOWS?
- was England’s first overseas colony under a 1583 Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I?
- was originally called Terra Nova (‘New Land’ in Old Italian)?
- is the world’s 16th largest island; Canada’s fourth-largest island, roughly the size of Japan?
- owns an English dialect known as Newfoundland English and a French dialect known as Newfoundland French?
- motorists drove on the left side of the road until 1947?
- had the first known European presence in North America?
- is home to Gros Morne National Park, a natural wonder, that is 20 times older than the Rockies?
- is the largest and northernmost geographical region in Atlantic Canada, slightly larger than the US State of Colorado?
- received its name in 1498 by João Fernandes Lavrador, a Portuguese explorer, who sighted the region?
- indigenous groups (the Innu and Inuit) have lived here for over 9,000 years?
- was first visited by the Moravian Brethren of Herrnhut, Saxony, in 1760 who came to the Labrador Coast to minister to the migratory Inuit tribes?
- encompasses the easternmost section of the Canadian Shield, a sweeping geographical region of thin soil and abundant mineral resources?
- is home to the remnants of a sixteenth-century Basques whaling station in Red Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
- (including Newfoundland) has 29 species of marine life (including whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and the largest population of humpbacks on the planet?