history of Newfoundland and Labrador has been strongly
influenced by the natural environment,
particularly marine resources.
A small community located on the south coast of Newfoundland.
Reproduced by permission of Ben Hansen. From Ben Hansen, Newfoundland (St.
John's, Newfoundland: Vinland Press, ©1987).
Successive cultures have
occupied the coastlines which include a land
environment with scattered resources of limited potential, and
a bounteous sea. These environmental realities
represent an important aspect of the province's heritage.
Settlement patterns and economic activity have been
profoundly influenced by the richness of coastal and
marine resources (mammals, fish and birds) compared to
the relative scarcity of terrestrial resources (soils,
The ocean environment of Newfoundland and Labrador is
characterized by some of the world's most extensive
continental shelf areas.
These provided a habitat for what were once the world's most abundant
fish stocks. Another important element is the cold Labrador Current which flows mainly
southward along the east coast of Labrador and
Newfoundland, but envelopes the whole island. This
current affects the climate of coastal areas and the
seasonal distribution of marine mammals, birds and fish.
In addition to the decisive influence of the ocean,
life in Newfoundland and Labrador has been shaped by other key
features of the natural environment, such as the
shortness of the growing season, the scarcity of good
soils, the long winter period,
and the impediments of harsh weather, including storms,
fog, strong and variable winds, heavy precipitation, and
cold temperatures. Poor drainage, cold currents, offshore
pack ice, and icebergs have also had a major impact.
|Iceberg in Little Harbour, Notre Dame Bay.
Reproduced by permission of Ben Hansen. From Ben Hansen, Newfoundland (St. John's, Newfoundland: Vinland Press, ©1987).
The history of Newfoundland and Labrador is largely a story
of adaptation to the challenges and opportunities
presented by its unique geographical characteristics.
©1997, Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site Project