Saint Pierre and Miquelon (French: Collectivité territoriale de Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, French pronunciation: [sɛ̃ pjɛʁ e mikˈlɔ̃]) is a self-governing territorial overseas collectivity of France, situated in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean near Canada. It is the only remnant of the former colonial empire of New France that remains under French control. Not to be confused with the town of Saint Pierre in mainland France's department of La Réunion.
Artifacts belonging to First Nations have been found on Saint-Pierre. However there was no aboriginal population on the island when the first European arrived.
The first European discovery of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon was on 21 October 1520, by the Portuguese João Álvares Fagundes, who bestowed on them their original name of "Islands of the 11,000 Virgins", as the day marked the feast day of St. Ursula and her virgin companions. They were made a French possession in 1536 by Jacques Cartier on behalf of the King of France. Though already frequented by Micmac Natives and Basque and Breton fishermen, the islands were not permanently settled until the end of the 17th century: four permanent inhabitants were counted in 1670, and 22 in 1691.
Located in the heart of the Grand Banks in the North Atlantic, 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Newfoundland, the archipelago of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is composed of eight islands, totalling 242 square kilometres (93 sq mi), of which only two are inhabited. The islands are bare and rocky, with steep coasts, and only a thin layer of peat to soften the hard landscape.
Saint Pierre Island, whose area is smaller, 26 square kilometres (10 sq mi), is the most populous and the commercial and administrative center of the archipelago. A new airport has been in operation since 1999 and is capable of accommodating long-haul flights from metropolitan France.
The inhabitants have traditionally earned their livelihood by fishing and by servicing fishing fleets operating off the coast of Newfoundland. The climate and the small amount of available land hardly favour activity such as farming and livestock (weather conditions are severe, which confines the growing season to a few weeks, and the soil contains significant peat and clay and is largely infertile). Since 1992, the economy has been in steep decline, following the depletion of fish stocks, the limitation of fishing areas and the ban imposed on all cod fishing by the Canadian Government.
Every year in the summer there is a Basque Festival, with demonstrations of harrijasotzaile (stone heaving), aizkolari (lumberjack skills), and pelota. The local cuisine is mostly based on seafood such as lobster, snow crab, cod, mussels and many cod-based dishes.
Ice hockey is very popular in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, with local teams often competing in Newfoundland-based leagues. Several players from the islands have played on French teams and even participated on the French national ice hockey team in the Olympics.
Street names are not commonly used on the islands. Directions and locations are commonly given using nicknames and the names of nearby residents.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon Tourist Attractions
- Pointe aux Canons Battery Forts
- Saint Pierre Cathedral Churches
- Miquelon Island
- Saint Pierre
- Stade John Girardin
- Miquelon Airport