Fast Facts About Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is one of the original Canadian provinces

Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Henry Georgi / All Canada Photos / Getty Images

Nova Scotia is one of the founding provinces of Canada. Almost totally surrounded by water, Nova Scotia is made up of a mainland peninsula and Cape Breton Island, which is across the Canso Strait. It is one of only three Canadian maritime provinces located on the North Atlantic Coast of North America.

The province of Nova Scotia is famous for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries, and apples. It is also known for an unusually high rate of shipwrecks on Sable Island. The name Nova Scotia originates from Latin, meaning "New Scotland."

Geographical Location

The province is bordered by the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Northumberland Strait on the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the south and east. Nova Scotia is connected to the province of New Brunswick on the west by the Chignecto Isthmus. And it's the second-smallest of Canada's 10 provinces, larger only than Prince Edward Island. 

During World War II, Halifax was a major North American port for trans-Atlantic convoys carrying munitions and supplies to Western Europe.

Early History of Nova Scotia

Numerous Triassic and Jurassic fossils have been found in Nova Scotia, making it a favorite research spot for paleontologists. When Europeans first landed on Nova Scotia's shores in 1497, the region was inhabited by the indigenous Mikmaq people. It is believed the Mikmaq were there for 10,000 years before Europeans arrived, and there is some evidence that Norse sailors made it to Cape Breton well before anyone from France or England arrived.

French colonists arrived in 1605 and established a permanent settlement that became known as Acadia. This was the first such settlement in what became Canada. Acadia and its capital Fort Royal saw several battles between the French and the British beginning in 1613. Nova Scotia was founded in 1621 to appeal to King James of Scotland as a territory for early Scottish settlers. The British conquered Fort Royal in 1710.

In 1755, the British expelled most of the French population from Acadia. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 finally ended the fighting between the British and French with the British taking control of Cape Breton and eventually Quebec. 

With the 1867 Canadian Confederation, Nova Scotia became one of Canada's four founding provinces.


Although it is one of the more densely populated of Canada's provinces, Nova Scotia's total area is only 20,400 square miles. Its population hovers just below 1 million people, and its capital city is Halifax.

Most of Nova Scotia is English-speaking, with about 4 percent of its population speaking French. The French speakers are typically concentrated in the cities of Halifax, Digby, and Yarmouth. 


Coal mining has long been a significant part of life in Nova Scotia. The industry declined after the 1950s but began a comeback in the 1990s. Agriculture, particularly poultry and dairy farms, is another big part of the area's economy.

Given its proximity to the ocean, it also makes sense that fishing is a major industry in Nova Scotia. It is one of the most productive fisheries along the Atlantic coastline, providing haddock, cod, scallops, and lobsters among its catches. Forestry and energy also play big roles in Nova Scotia's economy. 

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Munroe, Susan. "Fast Facts About Nova Scotia." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Munroe, Susan. (2020, August 25). Fast Facts About Nova Scotia. Retrieved from Munroe, Susan. "Fast Facts About Nova Scotia." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).