Newfoundland and Labrador, one of the four "Atlantic" provinces of Canada, consists of island and coastal mainland portions. The province has a land mass of over 400,000 sq. km, occupied by slightly more than a half million people. Aboriginal residence by Maritime Archaic and Paleo-Inuit cultures has been dated back over 4000 years. The Beothuk who are now thought to be related to contemporary Innu in Labrador were largely eradicated in warfare with Mi'kmaq who moved from the Maritimes, and Europeans. Contemporary Aboriginal people in the province are the Innu, the Mi'kmaq, the Inuit, and the Métis.
Vikings visited the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland about 1000 years ago, establishing a community at l'Anse aux Meadows. While for centuries the rich fishing grounds of the Grand Banks attracted a transient population of fishermen from France, Spain, Portugal, and England, the island was claimed for England by Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583. French interests competed, particularly in the 17th century, and while the English were granted sovereignty in 1713, the French retained fishing rights on the west coast. Lumbering was a growth industry in the 19th century. Newfoundland had representative government and later self-government, thus constituting a nation, from 1832 to 1934, when the bankrupt national government took the extraordinary step of reverting to colonial status. In 1949, in a close vote, Newfoundlanders decided to join Canada, becoming the tenth province. The economy has necessarily diversified with the collapse of the cod fishery in the late 20th century.