Introduction

The heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador is the result of a unique combination of geographical and historical forces. Located on the northeastern corner of North America, the province is closer to Europe than any other part of the continent.

World Map
Newfoundland and Labrador's location in the world
See Map of the Island of Newfoundland (29 kb)
See Map of the Bonavista and Avalon Peninsulas (27 kb)
See Map of Labrador (15 kb)
Illustration by Duleepa Wijayawardhana, ©1998.

It was perhaps the first part of the New World to be explored by Europeans. Firm archaeological evidence has shown that Norse voyagers reached Newfoundland and Labrador around 1000 C.E. There are also strong indications that Newfoundland was the site of John Cabot's landfall during his first voyage to North America in 1497. In the wake of European voyages of "discovery," migratory fishers from Portugal, France, and Spain began to harvest cod off the coast of Newfoundland in the early sixteenth century..

Divided into two geographical parts, Labrador and the island of Newfoundland, the province has a small population (551,792 in 1996) spread over a huge land mass (405,720 sq. km.). Slightly more than half of the people make their homes in outport fishing villages strung along the rugged coastline. The remainder live in cities and towns, the largest of which is the provincial capital of St. John's. The economy of the province rests heavily on the exploitation of natural resources, a fact that is reflected in family and community life..

The population of Newfoundland and Labrador came mostly from the southwest of England and the south and southeast of Ireland. Migration to the island was intimately linked to the fishery and occurred mainly between the mid eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. The province is also home to three native groups-- Innu, Inuit, and Mi'kmaq--and to a French-speaking population, found mostly in the western portion of the island. More recent immigrants have increased the ethnic and cultural diversity of the province, but by comparison to most other parts of North America, this diversity remains limited..

The purpose of this web site is to furnish a wide range of information and analysis on the history, geography, population, culture, and society of Newfoundland and Labrador. The site is intended for use by high school students and by members of the general public. Jargon has been avoided whenever possible, but where a technical or unusual term has been used, it is italicized to indicate it is defined in an accompanying glossary. While not aimed at academics, scholars in other fields who wish to know more about Newfoundland and Labrador may find it a valuable source of information..

The material is organized under six broad headings: Natural Environment, Aboriginal Peoples, Exploration and Settlement, Society, Economy and Culture, Government and Politics, and The Arts. Each of these themes is being developed in a progression through several levels, each more specific and detailed than the one before it. The authors of the first two levels are largely faculty members from the Memorial University of Newfoundland. As the site develops, other contributors, including university and high school students as well as non-university specialists in history and heritage, will be included.

A web site, by its very nature, is a work constantly in progress. As the project unfolds, we will add substantially to what is now accessible. A "What's New" link is available on the homepage to enable the user to keep abreast of additions and changes. A Site Map and tables of contents for each section provide a complete view of the topics covered. A search engine is available.

Image updated September, 2005.
Sidebar updated April, 2007.


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