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What is Nova Scotia?

Mining is a traditional part of the Nova Scotian economy.
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's Maritime provinces.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 20 March 2014
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Nova Scotia is a province located on the Southeastern coastline of Canada, directly below New Brunswick. It is one of the four colonies that participated in the founding of the Confederation, later Canada, in 1867. The capital of Nova Scotia is Halifax, a port city with a population of approximately 359,000, almost a third of the entire population of the province. Nova Scotia is one of the three provinces that make up the Martimes – the other two are New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Nova Scotia is the second smallest province in Canada, and one of the least populous.

Paleo-Indians used Nova Scotia as a camping site as long ago as 9000 BCE, and later native peoples also settled in and used the area. The Mi’qmak are their modern day descendants. The province was first settled by the French in 1604, although it may have been visited by Europeans as early as 1497, when John Cabot landed somewhere along the eastern seaboard.

Beginning in 1624, Scotland attempted to send settlers to Nova Scotia, eventually settling in Port Royal in 1629, but soon after forced to cede the site to the French. After some exchange of territory back and forth, Nova Scotia entered English control with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. Curiously, although Nova Scotia was one of the founding provinces of Canada, numerous attempts to repeal the Confederation were carried on into the 1920s.

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Nova Scotia has a traditionally resource-based economy focusing on fishing, logging, mining for coal and other minerals, and agriculture, though in the late 20th century, Nova Scotia expanded its income sources to include tourism, film production, and technology. The province is known for its very harsh winters and a somewhat taciturn population. Numerous ships have been wrecked in the vicinity of Nova Scotia, thanks to treacherous ocean conditions, including the Titanic in 1912. The province has a number of distinctive bays and estuaries providing a large base from which to fish.

Less than one thousand Nova Scotians still speak Scottish or have other remainders of Scottish heritage. The majority of these inhabitants live on Cape Breton Island, to the north of the province.

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