Newfoundland an island and British colony of North America, lies in the Atlantic Ocean, at the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, separated from Labrador on the north by the Strait of Belle Isle (about twelve miles broad), and extending in lat. from 46° 38' to 51° 37' N., and in long. from 52° 44' to 59° 30' W., is 370 miles in length, 290 miles in breadth, about 1000 miles in circumference, and has an area of 38,850 square miles, or about 23,000,000 acres, of which only about 3,000,000 are set down as good for cultivation, and even of these but little has thus far been much tilled. In 1845 the only crops raised were oats and hay; but within recent years large supplies of grain and vegetable and garden seeds have been imported, and in 1869 the number of acres under cultivation was 41,715. It. will now probably not run far from 50,000 acres. The population of Newfoundland has increased rapidly in recent times, and will no doubt in a short time greatly enlarge the figures for land under cultivation. In 1763 Newfoundland only counted about 7500 souls; in 1884 it reported by census 197,332, from which, however, 8651 must be deducted for settlers of the French shores, and 1211 for Labrador. The main employment of these people is fishing, which has proved a very profitable source of income. The mineral wealth of the country is also very great, and has in recent times been greatly developed. Newfoundland's surface is diversified by mountains, marshes, barrens, ponds, and lakes. The mountains in the Avalon Peninsula (stretching southeast from the main portion of the island, and connected with it by an isthmus of only about three miles in width) rise in some cases to 1400 feet above sea-level; while, both here and along the western shore, the height of 1000 feet is frequently reached. 'The number of the lakes and "ponds" (the latter name being used indiscriminately for a large or a small lake) is remarkable, and it has been estimated, though perhaps with some exaggeration, that about one third of the whole surface is covered with fresh water. The "barrens" occupy the tops of hills. The coast-line is everywhere deeply indented with bays and estuaries, many of which are spacious enough to contain the whole British navy. Of these inlets, the principal, beginning from the northern extremity of the island, are Hare, White, Notre Dame, Bonavista, Trinity, Conception, St. Mary's, Placentia, Fortunle, St. George's, and St. John's bays. These bays vary in length from twenty-five to seventy miles, are of great breadth, and are lined — as indeed the whole coast is — with excellent harbors. The rivers, none of which are navigable for any distance, communicate between the lakes of the interior and the shore, and are narrow and winding; occasionally, however, they are turned to account in driving machinery. The main streams are the Exploit, with its affluent the Great Rattling, and the Humber. The climate of the island is very moderate. In the summer the thermometer rarely ranges above 70°, and in winter it seldom falls below zero; yet the cold weather remains so steady for seven or eight months that the winters are pronounced severe. Very little activity is manifest during that period of the year.
The early history of Newfoundland is involved in obscurity. It was discovered June 24, 1497, in the reign of Henry VII, by John Cabot; and the event is noticed by the following entry in the accounts of the privy- purse expenditure: "1497, Aug. 10. To hym that found the New Isle, £10." It was visited by the Portuguese navigator, Gaspar de Cortereal, in 1500; and within two years after that time regular fisheries had been established on its shores by the Portuguese, tnscayans, and French. In 1578, 400 vessels, of which 50 were English, were engaged in the fishery. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, with his ill-fated expedition, arrived in St. John's harbor in August, 1583, and formally took possession of the island in the name of queen Elizabeth. In the return voyage the expedition was scattered by a storm, and the commander lost. In 1621 Sir George Calvert (afterwards lord Baltimore) settled in the great peninsula in the south-east, and named it the Province of Avalon. The history of the island during the 17th and part of the 18th centuries is little more than a record of rivalries and feuds between the English and French fishermen; but by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) the island was ceded wholly to England, the French, however, retaining the privilege of fishing and drying their fish on certain portions of the coast. A governor was appointed in 1728. The present form of government, established in 1855, consists of the governor, a legislative council (appointed by the crown), and a general assembly (elected by the people). The bast of Labrador on the mainland, and the island of Anticosti, have been included since 1809 within the jurisdiction of the governor of Newfoundland. The question of annexation to Canada is now greatly agitated in the British dominions in America, but it is very doubtful whether the Newfoundlanders will yield their independence. The probability is that this island will soon become an important commercial center. There is some prospect of a railroad connection with the United States to facilitate travel to Europe, shortening the ocean voyage by four days. If accomplished, the social coloring of this now but sparsely settled country will change considerably. There are as yet no railroads in the island, and its peculiar configuration renders even roadmaking a matter of great difficulty. There are no roads across the island; they are confined chiefly to the southeastern and south-western seaboard. There is fortnightly communication in summer between St. John's and Halifax by steamer. On the colony, and connected with it, 400 miles of lines of telegraph have been constructed, 50 miles of which, from Cape Bay to Cape Breton, are submarine.
The aborigines of Newfoundland, who called themselves Beoths, and painted themselves with red ochre, whence they were called Red Indians, are supposed to have become extinct. There are a few Micmac Indians who came there from New Brunswick, and were mainly instrumental in extirpating the Beoths. The present inhabitants of Newfoundland, therefore, are mainly Europeans, and principally from England and Ireland. Those from the last-named country predominate to such an extent as to stamp the island with their own especial mark. "Unlike their countrymen in the United States, who, in the course of two or three generations, lose their accent, religion, improvidence, and all other national traits, and become assimilated by the predominant population into Americans, the Irish here, having been long almost a majority of the entire population, perpetuate all their peculiar characteristics, and even, to some extent, impregnate the rest of the population with them. Thus the Newfoundland accent is a distinctly Irish one, though those who betray it may have no Irish blood in their veins, and never have been in Ireland in their lives. All along the coast the little huts erected near the fishing-stages for the fishermen to live in in summer time have a strong family resemblance to those of the poorer peasantry in the 'ould country;' and there is a sort of general air of slovenliness which the Celtic race seems to have a specialty for imparting to any community in which they preponderate." The signs and tokens, moreover, of Roman Catholics constituting the prevailing religionists of the island are apparent in many respects. Here, as elsewhere, it is the peculiarity of Romanism that, while its adherents seem povertystricken, the Church is rolling in wealth. The Roman Catholic cathedral is by far the most imposing structure in the city of St. John, the principal place of the island, and is the first object that strikes the eye on entering the harbor. Besides the cathedral and college, there are upwards of fifty churches and chapels, and no fewer than twelve convents, in that town. On all the island there were in 1874 64,486 Roman Catholics to 59,605 Episcopalians, 35,551 Wesleyan Methodists, and 1813 of other sects, such as the Baptists, Presbyterians, etc. Newfoundland contains two Romish bishoprics, St. John's and Harbor Grace, two Wesleyan superintendencies, and an Episcopal bishopric, with a bishop and a coadjutor. The number of places of worship in 1869 was 188, viz. Episcopalian, 81; Roman Catholic, 59; Wesleyan, 42; other, 6. For school purposes the island is divided into districts, and in each a board of education, consisting of Romanists for the Catholic schools, and another, consisting of Protestants, for the Protestant schools, is appointed by the governor in council. These boards have the general management of the schools in their respective districts, subject to the approval of the governor in council. The governor, with the advice of the council, also appoints a Roman Catholic and a Protestant superintendent to inspect the schools, and report on their condition. The sum of £750 (£400 for Protestants and £350 for Catholics) is appropriated annually for the training of teachers. Two scholars from each electoral district are entitled to £25 each for their board, lodging, and tuition in one of the academies or higher schools of the island. The money appropriated by the Legislature for educational purposes has hitherto been divided between the Protestants and Catholics in proportion to their numbers; the act of April 29, 1874, provides for a further division among the various Protestant sects. This act did not go into effect until July 1,1875, after a census had been taken, upon which and subsequent decennial censuses the denominational appropriations are to be based. It increases the number of inspectors to three. In the schools under government control a small tuition fee is required of pupils able to pay. Besides those established by the governmental boards, the schools of the Colonial Church and School Society (an English association under the auspices of the Established Church), and several established and controlled by the different religious denominations, receive aid from the government. The amount expended for educational purposes in 1872 was £14,852; in 1873, £15,316. The number of schools in operation in 1874 was 293, with a total attendance of 13,597 pupils, of which 157, with 7805 pupils, were Protestant, and 136, with 5792 pupils, Roman Catholic. Besides these there are grammarschools at Harbor Grace and Carbonear; an Episcopal, a Wesleyan Methodist, and a general Protestant academy at St. John's; and at the same place an Episcopal theological institute and St. Bonaventure College (Roman Catholic). See Blackwood's Magazine, July, 1873, art. iv; Anderson, Hist. of the Colonial Church (see Index in vol. iii); St. John, Catechism of the History of Newfoundland (1855); Anspach, Hist. of Newfoundland (Lond.
1819); Pedley, Newfoundland (1863). See also the illustrated papers in Harper's Monthly Magazine, vol. xii and xxii.