Atlantic provinces are an extension of the Appalachians, an
ancient mountain range. Much of the region has low, rugged hills
and plateaus and a deeply indented coastline.
Agriculture flourishes in the fertile valleys, such as the Saint John River
Valley in New Brunswick, and the Annapolis Valley in Nova
Scotia. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and
Newfoundland are the smallest Canadian provinces, and were the
settled by Europeans.
Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has a gently
rolling landscape with a rich, red soil. This fertile island is
Canada's smallest province, making up a mere 0.1 percent of
Canada's land mass.
Grand Banks were once known as the "fish fields" of Newfoundland
and are the reason why Europeans first came to Canada in the
1550s. This shallow continental shelf extends 400
kilometres off the east coast, where the mixing of ocean
currents has created one of the richest fishing grounds in the
world. Once thought to contain a virtually inexhaustible supply
of fish, the Banks are now considered a vulnerable resource that
must be managed wisely.
The combined influence of continental air
masses with air currents off the ocean give this region one of
the most rugged and most variable climates anywhere in the
country. In winter, mean temperatures can vary markedly as
Arctic air is replaced by maritime air from passing storms.
Snowfall in winter is relatively heavy, and fog is common in
spring and early summer. The warmest month is July, when mean
temperatures are in the 16 to 18°C range, except near coastal
areas where August is often warmer.