Newfoundland (French: Terre-Neuve; Irish: Talamh an Ãisc; Latin: Terra Nova) is a large island off the northeast coast of North America, and the most populous part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. more...
The island of Newfoundland (originally called Terra Nova) was most likely first named by the Italian John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) in 1497, which would make it the oldest European name in North America. The province where this island is located was also called Newfoundland up until 2001, when its name was changed to Newfoundland and Labrador (the postal abbreviation was simultaneously changed from NF to NL).
Newfoundland is separated from the Labrador Peninsula by the Strait of Belle Isle and from Cape Breton Island by the Cabot Strait. It blocks the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, creating the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the world's largest estuary. Newfoundland's nearest neighbour is the small French overseas community of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
It is 111,390 km2 in area, making it the world's 15th largest island. The provincial capital, St. John's, is found on the southeastern tip of the island. Cape Spear, just south of the capital, is Canada's easternmost point. The island of Newfoundland has an approximate population of 485,000.
Newfoundland is pronounced by Newfoundlanders as new-fin-land or new-fun-land and take exception to it being pronounced with the last syllable slurred, (as new-found-l'nd). Newfoundland has a dialect of English known as Newfoundland English, a dialect of French known as Newfoundland French and a dialect of Irish known as Newfoundland Irish.
Newfoundland was first inhabited by the Maritime Archaic aboriginal culture around 2500BC-1200BC. This group disappeared and was later replaced by Groswater Paleoeskimos from around 800BC-AD100, Dorset tradition Paleoeskimos from around AD1-AD800, and recent Natives around AD1-AD1700. The exact reason for the disappearances of several of these cultures is unknown, but food scarcity is suspected as a reason.
The recent natives on Newfoundland were the probable ancestors of the historical Beothuk inhabitants at the time of European contact. Beothuk means "people" in the Beothuk language. The origins of the Beothuks are uncertain, but it appears that they were an native group that came from Labrador. The culture is now extinct, remembered only in museum, historical and archaeological records. Shanawdithit, the last known Beothuk (a woman), died in St. John's in 1829.
It is likely that the natives described by the Vikings as skraelings were Beothuk inhabitants of Labrador and Newfoundland. The first conflicts between Europeans and native peoples may have occurred around 1006 at L'Anse aux Meadows when parties of Norsemen attempted to establish permanent settlements along the coast of Newfoundland. According to Norse sagas, the native Beothuk (called skraelings or skraelingars by the Norse) responded so ferociously that the newcomers eventually withdrew and apparently gave up their original intentions to settle.
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