Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and constitutes one of the four Atlantic Canada provinces. Located almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole (44º 39' N Latitude), its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest province in Canada, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton Island and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2011, the population was 921,727, making Nova Scotia the second-most-densely populated province in Canada.
Nova Scotia means New Scotland in Latin and is the recognized English-language name for the province. In French it is called "Nouvelle-Écosse", which is a literal translation from Latin to French. In Scottish Gaelic, the province is called Alba Nuadh, which also simply means New Scotland. The province was first named in the 1621 Royal Charter granting the right to settle lands including modern Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and the Gaspé peninsula to Sir William Alexander in 1632.
Nova Scotia is Canada's second-smallest province in area after Prince Edward Island. The province's mainland is the Nova Scotia peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, including numerous bays and estuaries. Nowhere in Nova Scotia is more than 67 km (42 mi) from the ocean. Cape Breton Island, a large island to the northeast of the Nova Scotia mainland, is also part of the province, as is Sable Island, a small island notorious for its shipwrecks,approximately 175 km (110 mi) from the province's southern coast.
The province includes regions of the Mi'kmaq nation of Mi'kma'ki (mi'gama'gi). Nova Scotia was already home to the Mi'kmaq people when the first European colonists arrived. In 1605, French colonists established the first permanent European settlement in Canada and the first north of Florida at Port Royal, founding what would become known asAcadia.
The British conquest of Acadia took place in 1710. It was formally recognized in 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht, when Cape Breton Island (Île Royale) was returned to the French. What is now New Brunswick was still a part of the French colony of Acadia. The name of the capital was changed from Port Royal to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. In 1749, the capital of Nova Scotia was changed from Annapolis Royal to the newly established Halifax. In 1755, the vast majority of the French population (the Acadians) were expelled and replaced by New England Planters who arrived between 1759 and 1768.
In 1763, most of Acadia (Cape Breton Island, St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island), and New Brunswick) became part of Nova Scotia. In 1769, St. John's Island became a separate colony. Nova Scotia included present-day New Brunswick until that province was established in 1784, after the arrival of United Empire Loyalists. In 1867, Nova Scotia was one of the four founding provinces of the Canadian Confederation.
In 1871, the largest religious denominations were Presbyterian with 103,500 (27%); Roman Catholic with 102,000 (26%); Baptist with 73,295 (19%); Episcopal with 55,124 (14%); Methodist with 40,748 (10%), Lutheran with 4,958 (1.3%); and Congregationalist with 2,538 (0.65%).
According to the 2001 census, the largest denominations by number of adherents were the Roman Catholic Church with 327,940 (37%); the United Church of Canadawith 142,520 (17%); and the Anglican Church of Canada with 120,315 (13%).
The Minister of Education is responsible for the administration and delivery of education, as defined by the Education Actand other acts relating to colleges, universities and private schools. The powers of the Minister and the Department of Education are defined by the Ministerial regulations and constrained by the Governor-In-Council regulations.
Nova Scotia has more than 450 public schools for children. The public system offers primary to Grade 12. There are also private schools in the province. Public education is administered by seven regional school boards, responsible primarily for English instruction and French immersion, and also province-wide by the Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial, which administers French instruction to students for whom the primary language is French.
The Nova Scotia Community College system has 13 campuses around the province. The community college, with its focus on training and education, was established in 1988 by amalgamating the province's former vocational schools.
In addition to its community college system the province has 10 universities, including Dalhousie University, University of King's College, Saint Mary's University (Halifax), Mount Saint Vincent University, NSCAD University, Acadia University,Université Sainte-Anne, Saint Francis Xavier University, Cape Breton University and the Atlantic School of Theology.
There are also more than 90 registered private commercial colleges in Nova Scotia.