Saint Pierre and Miquelon

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Geography of Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Location: Northern North America, islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, south of Newfoundland (Canada)
Area: total area: 242 sq km, land area: 242 sq km, comparative area: 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC, note: includes eight small islands in the Saint Pierre and the Miquelon groups
Geographic coordinates: 46 50 N, 56 20 E
Coastline: 120 km
Terrain: mostly barren rock, lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m, highest point: Morne de la Grande Montagne 240 m
Land Use: arable land: 13%, permanent crops: 0%, meadows and pastures: 0%, forest and woodland: 4%, other: 83%

Government of Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Country name:
conventional long form: Territorial Collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon
conventional short form: Saint Pierre and Miquelon
local long form: Departement de Saint-Pierre et Miquelon
local short form: Saint-Pierre et Miquelon

Dependency status: self-governing territorial collectivity of France

Government type: N/A

Capital: Saint-Pierre

Administrative divisions: none (territorial collectivity of France); note - there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are two communes - Saint Pierre, Miquelon at the second order

Independence: none (territorial collectivity of France; has been under French control since 1763)

National holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system: French law with special adaptations for local conditions, such as housing and taxation

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch Elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the General Council is elected by the members of the council

Judicial branch: Superior Tribunal of Appeals or Tribunal Superieur d'Appel

Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territorial collectivity of France)

Diplomatic representation from the US: none (territorial collectivity of France)

Flag description: a yellow sailing ship facing the hoist side rides on a dark blue background with yellow wavy lines under the ship; on the hoist side, a vertical band is divided into three parts: the top part (called ikkurina) is red with a green diagonal cross extending to the corners overlaid by a white cross dividing the rectangle into four sections; the middle part has a white background with an ermine pattern; the third part has a red background with two stylized yellow lions outlined in black, one above the other; these three heraldic arms represent settlement by colonists from the Basque Country (top), Brittany, and Normandy; the flag of France is used for official occasions

History of Saint Pierre and Miquelon

The French dimension of Newfoundland's history is accentuated by the presence, 20 kilometres off the Burin Peninsula, of the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. An important fishing base for centuries, the islands' population, and fishermen from France, have had a long and varied relationship with their neighbours in Newfoundland.

The islands are bare and rocky, with only a thin layer of peat to soften the hard landscape. The coasts are generally steep, and there is only one good harbour in the port of St. Pierre, where most of the inhabitants live - about 5,600 people out of a total population in 1990 of about 6,392. Adding to its importance, the town of St. Pierre is also the administrative centre and the site of the principal airport. The harbour, which originally could not handle vessels of more than modest tonnage, has been improved with artificial breakwaters.

Most inhabitants of St. Pierre et Miquelon live in the town of St. Pierre, the administrative centre and site of the principal airport.

Once there were three main islands: St. Pierre; Miquelon; and Langlade. During the 18th century, Miquelon and Langlade were permanently joined by an immense sand bar and dune. Miquelon and St. Pierre are separated by a six-kilometre strait whose fierce currents inspired fishermen to name it "the Mouth of Hell." There are also several smaller islets, of which only L'Ile-aux-Marins at the mouth of the harbour of St. Pierre was inhabited, and then only from the middle of the 19th century until 1965.

The population of St. Pierre and Miquelon today rely on fishing and, increasingly, on tourism for employment and income. In addition, the French government makes large expenditures on the islands, determined to maintain the last remnant of the once extensive French empire in North America.

People of Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Nationality: noun: Frenchman(men), Frenchwoman(women); adjective: French
Population: 6,995 (July 2004 est.)
Annual Population growth rate: 0.26% (2004 est.)
Ethnic groups: Basques and Bretons (French fishermen)
Religions: Roman Catholic 99%
Languages: French (official)
Literacy: 99%
Health Infant mortality rate: 7.76 deaths/1,000 live births, Life expectancy at birth: male: 75.97 years, female: 80.7 years (2004 est.), total population: 78.28 years
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.6% (male 878; female 840), 15-64 years: 64.9% (male 2,316; female 2,227), 65 years and over: 10.5% (male 323; female 411) (2004 est.)
Median age: total: 33.3 years, male: 33 years, female: 33.6 years (2004 est.)