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Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, third-largest of the Atlantic Provinces in eastern Canada. The capital and main port is Halifax.

Land and climate

Nova Scotia has an area of 21,425 sq mi (56,491 sq km), including 1,023 sq mi (1,646 km) of inland water, and is a peninsula almost entirely surrounded by the sea. Only the narrow land link of the Chignecto Isthmus joins Nova Scotia to the mainland province of New Brunswick, Canada. On the north, the Northumberland Strait divides Nova Scotia from Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Also in the north, the narrow Strait of Canso, crossed by a road and railway causeway, separates Cape Breton Island from Nova Scotia. The Atlantic Ocean bounds Nova Scotia's coasts east and south, the location of Sable Island, called “the graveyard of the Atlantic” owing to numerous ship disasters. On the west coast is the Bay of Fundy, with its great range of tides; on the bay's opposite shore are Maine and New Brunswick. No part of Nova Scotia is more than 50 mi (80.4 km) from the sea, with its rich cod, lobster, and haddock fisheries on the continental shelf or in the Atlantic's Grand Banks.

A distinctive feature of Nova Scotia's landscape is the Atlantic Upland, 5 detached hilly areas of woodlands. More than three-fourths of the province is covered by forests of white pine, spruce, balsam, birch, and maple. The Annapolis Valley and the Cornwallis region support abundant apple orchards. Hay, oats, barley, wheat, and vegetables are grown in fertile meadowlands, site also of dairy farms. Lowlands reclaimed from the bay contain mineral resources. Of Nova Scotia's many rivers, the longest are the Mersey and St. Mary's, both 72 mi (116 km). The province's largest lake is the salt-water Bras d'Or (230 sq mi/370 sq km) on Cape Breton Island.

The cold Labrador Current particularly affects the Atlantic coast. At Halifax, temperatures average 24°F (−1°C) in January and 65°F (20°C) in July. Average precipitation ranges from about 55 in (127 cm) on the ocean coast to about 40 in (102 cm) on the bay coast.


Of the total population, most Nova Scotians are of British or French ancestry; some 3,000 are Micmac Native Americans.


About one-third of Canada's coal supply is mined underwater in northern Nova Scotia. Other mineral resources include gypsum, zinc, barite, salt, and natural gas. Petroleum refining, food and beverage processing, transportation- equipment manufacturing, and pulp and paper production are leading industries. Food, fish, and wood products are leading exports. About half the province's electric power is provided by hydroelectric plants on the Mersey and other rivers. Much tourism takes advantage of the good transportation system.


The region that is now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia was the home of the Micmac Native Americans before European exploration. The Nova Scotia peninsula is probably Lief Ericsson's Vinland (c. 1000). In 1497 John Cabot landed on Cape Breton Island, and soon Basque fishermen as well. The entire region became the New France province of Acadia after sieur de Monts's Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal) trading settlement was moved from the mainland to the peninsula's bay shore in 1605. England colonized the peninsula in 1621 and renamed it Nova Scotia (Latin, “New Scotland”) after early Scots settlers. Thereafter, territorial warfare ensued between France and England. The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) confirmed British possession, giving Cape Breton and Prince Edward islands to the French. Britain acquired the rest of Acadia in 1717. Tragically, in 1755, it deported Nova Scotia's French settlers, the Acadians. During the Seven Years' War, in 1758, Nova Scotia took Cape Breton Island. That year also the British colonists were granted an elected representative assembly. Nova Scotia annexed (1763) Prince Edward Island, which became a separate colony in 1769. After the American Revolution, thousands of New Englanders who were British Loyalists moved into the region, where they were joined later, in Nova Scotia, by Irish, Germans, and more Scots. In 1784, the region's mainland part separated to become the New Brunswick colony. Under John Howe's leadership, Nova Scotia became the first Canadian colony to achieve government highly responsible to the people (1848). In 1867, it confederated with Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick to form the Dominion of Canada. Thereafter, Nova Scotia had Canada's first newspaper, first printing press, and first university.

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