Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island has the distinction of being the smallest political unit in one of the world’s largest countries, Canada.
It is situated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off the Atlantic coast of North America. The vivid red of the soil is caused by the high content of oxidized iron. The island did not exist as a distinct geographical entity until about 5,000 years ago, when rising waters eroded away the last of the land bridge to the continent.
Out-migration has been a fact of life in Prince Edward Island for more than 100 years. The population remained at about 100,000 for much of this period; however, over the past several decades it has grown relatively quickly to the present all-time high of 137,000.
The island’s existence as a separate political entity dates from 1769 when it was granted its own colonial administration by the British Government. In 1799 the colony was renamed Prince Edward Island after Edward, Duke of Kent, famous in history as the father of Queen Victoria.
The system of government is based on the UK parliamentary system. The Executive Council is chosen from the 27 members of the elected Legislative Assembly, with the leader of the largest political party serving as Premier.
Most residents of the island are descendants of early settlers from the British Isles and France. The Celtic strain — Highland Scots and Irish — is particularly strong. The dominant language is English, although a few thousand Acadians in the Evangéline area of the province continue to speak French.
While the traditional industries of farming and fishing continue to be strong, tourism has shown a dramatic increase in the past several decades. Manufacturing has also emerged as an important and growing economic sector.
Traditional music and dancing flourish on the island, with several Scottish, Irish, and Acadian folk festivals held every year.
The recreational activities of Prince Edward Islanders reflect both the European heritage of the people and the island’s location in North America. As might be expected in a province of Canada, ice hockey and curling are winter sporting passions; while proximity to the US assures that baseball and softball are played in the summer.
A more indigenous sporting pursuit is horse racing, prominent because of the island’s rich agricultural legacy. In recent years, soccer (football in Europe) has grown rapidly in popularity, particularly among youth.
last updated: 22/06/07