Saint Pierre and Miquelon

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Saint Pierre and Miquelon (săN pyĕr, mēkəlôN´), French territorial collectivity (2005 est. pop. 7,000), 93 sq mi (241 sq km), consisting of nine small islands S of Newfoundland, Canada, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The capital is Saint Pierre on the island of the same name. Miquelon (83 sq mi/215 sq km) is the largest island. Most of the population live in or near the capital and earn their living by fishing. The islands are barren, rocky, and often fogbound, but their proximity to the Grand Banks makes them a valuable base for fishermen. Fish processing and the servicing of fishing fleets are the main industries. There is some tourism. In April and October, Norman and Breton fishermen come from France to fish. There is a 19-seat legislature, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon elect one representative to the French Senate and one to the French National Assembly. A thirty-year boundary dispute between France and Canada over offshore fishing rights was resolved in 1992. The French zone consists of waters within a 24-mi (38.6-km) limit of the two islands and also includes a 10.5-mi-wide (16.9-km) corridor leading south 200 mi (322 km) to international waters.

History

Probably first settled by Basques, the islands were colonized by France in 1604. They were taken by the British (1713) but returned to France in 1763; twice retaken by the British, they were restored to France in 1814, with the provision that they be unfortified. They were granted local autonomy in 1935, became an overseas department in 1976, and reclassified as a territorial collectivity in 1985 to comply with European Community (now European Union) trade regulations.

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