Nova Scotia (Latin for "New Scotland") is the second-smallest province in Canada, with just 940,000 inhabitants. The peninsula was originally populated by the Mi’kmaq native people. The first European settlers were the French, who founded Acadia in 1604. Later, colonists of English, Irish and Scottish descent began to arrive. In 1749, the British established a new capital at Halifax, which has emerged as the leading cultural center in the Atlantic region, home to avant-garde visual art, writing and publishing, and a thriving film industry.
Connected by causeway to the northeastern tip of the mainland is Cape Breton Island, nearly 4,000 square miles of spectacularly beautiful coastline, sheltered coves, small fishing villages and stunning highland trails that thread along cliffs, granting breathtaking views of the ocean, coast and islands. Pods of pilot and humpback whales swim offshore; Atlantic puffins nest along headwalls that disappear into the sea; moose and other wildlife thrive in the backcountry. The island, discovered by John Cabot in 1497, gets its name from a small cape, which in turn is named after Breton (a Celtic language) fisherman. The island has a rich heritage, and it is a hub of Celtic music in North America. The Gulf Stream moderates the climate; temperatures are cooler along the coast, and warmer inland. Summertime highs are in the mid-70s, turning to the mid-50s spring and fall.