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