Newfoundland (New'fundland'), a British island colony in North America, not yet incorporated with the Dominion of Canada, lies at the mouth of the Gulf of St Lawrence, separated from Labrador on the north by the Straits of Belle Isle (q.v., 11 miles broad). It is 370 miles in length and 290 miles in breadth, and has an area of 40,200 sq. m. Pop. (1874) 168,958 ; (1901) 220,249. By the Anglo-French agreement of 1904, the French withdrew their troublesome claim to certain exclusive rights 'on the French Shore,' till then a source of trouble and a hindrance to its development. The fishermen number 35,000, and 21,000 women and children cure fish. The island presents a wild and sterile appearance. The mountains in the Avalon Peninsula to the SE. (connected with the rest of the island by an isthmus only 3 miles in width) rise to over 2000 feet. The number of the lakes and ' ponds' is remarkable, and about one-third of the whole surface is covered with fresh water. The coast-line is everywhere deeply indented with excellent harbours. There is considerable cultivation along the seaboard of the settled districts, but the best land and timber are in the river-valleys and upon the west coast. Now about 1,000,000 bushels of potatoes are produced annually, and turnips, hay, carrots, clover, barley, and oats are cultivated with success. The chief seat of copper-mining is around the shore of Notre Dame Bay. Gold has been found. Rich deposits of lead ore exist. Gypsum, marble, and roofing-slate are found in abundance. Coal and iron exist side by side near the west coast. Cod, herring, and salmon are the most important fish. The annual value of the cod-fishery is over $6,000,000, and of lobster-canning $500,000 ; seal-fishing is also important. There are over 660 miles of railway, 2450 miles of postal and district roads, and 2100 miles of telegraph.
Newfoundland was discovered in 1497 by John Cabot, and visited by the Portuguese Cortereal in 1500; by 1578, 400 vessels, 50 of them English, were engaged in the fisheries here. In 1583 Sir Humphrey Gilbert took possession of the island for Queen Elizabeth ; in 1621 Sir George Calvert (afterwards Lord Baltimore) settled in the Avalon peninsula. In 1713 the island was ceded to Britain, while the French retained the right, extended in 1783, to catch and dry fish on a defined part of the coast. The government, established in 1855, consists of the governor, an executive council of 7 members, a legislative council of 15 (appointed by the crown), and a general assembly of 36 (elected). In 1894-95 Newfoundland suffered from a great political and commercial crisis. See works by Auspach (1827), Little (1855), Fraser Rae (1881), Murray, Howley, Harvey, Prowse, Willson, and Smith (1901).