Saint Pierre and Miquelon (in French: Territorial Collectivity of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon ), is a territorial collectivity made up of a group of small islands in the North Atlantic, the main ones being Saint Pierre and Miquelon, south of Newfoundland, Canada. The islands are as close as 25 kilometers (16 miles) from Newfoundland.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon are part of France and the European Union, but due to special immigration procedures, EU nationals who are not French citizens are not allowed to exercise free movement and commercial establishment in the archipelago.
The archipelago is the only remnant of the old colonial empire of New France that remains under French control.
Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a community that has five hundred years of history. The first written reference to the name of Saint-Pierre appeared in 1536 by Jacques Cartier. It is evident that it is not a discovery, since Cartier says: islands of Sainct Pierre, showing that these islands had already been discovered. Today, Jacques Cartier was not the first explorer to take note of his passage in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
In 1544 the French geographer Jean Alphonse described the islands of Saint-Pierre in his Islario and in 1579.
The European settlements on the islands are some of the oldest in America (together settlement of Spain and Portugal), dating from the early sixteenth century. In the mid- 17th century there were permanent French residents on the islands.
Dispute in France and England
At the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century, British attacks on the islands caused the French settlers to abandon the islands, and the British seized them for 50 years (1713 to 1763). The French command took the islands in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris (which ceded all of New France to Great Britain with the exception of Saint Pierre and Miquelon).
French support for the American Revolution led to a British attack on the islands, and the deportation of the French settlers. Possession of Miquelon and Saint Peter passed back and forth between France and Great Britain for the next 38 years.
France finally took the islands after Napoleon Bonaparte’s second abdication in 1815, and 70 years of prosperity followed for the fishing industry and residents of Miquelon and St. Peter’s. However, political and economic changes led to a slow decline in the industry in the late 19th century.
During World War II, the governor, Gilbert de Bournat, was loyal to the Vichy regime, which had to negotiate financial agreements with US authorities to obtain loans guaranteed by the French Treasury. At the same time, Canada considered the possibility of an invasion of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Under de Gaulle’s orders, Admiral Muselier Émile organized the liberation of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and on December 24, 1941, a flotilla of Free France took control of the islands without resistance. De Gaulle had organized a referendum, favorable to him, and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon thus became one of the first French territories to join Free France.
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon is south of the Canadian province of Newfoundland, about 800 kilometers northeast of Boston. The island of Saint Peter is surrounded by other smaller ones, such as the island of Grand Colombier, Petit Colombier, and the Île aux Marines (island of the Seamen), formally known as Île aux Chiens (island of the Dogs), Île aux Pigeons and the Île aux Vainqueurs. The total area of the islands is 242 km². They have a coastline of 120 km.
Saint Peter (Saint-Pierre) is the commercial and administrative center of the islands. With a population of 6,500, the infrastructure is modern and urban. The people of Saint-Pierre are descendants of Basques, Bretons, Normandy and other French regions.
Île aux Marines (Island of the Seafarers), known as Île aux Chiens (Isle of Dogs), is a small island located in the port of Saint-Pierre, which used to be a fishing village of 600 people. Modern fishing techniques have contributed to the progressive desertion of the community. Today, Ile aux Marins is a living museum.
Miquelon: On the north side of the largest island, the town of Miquelon which is inhabited by 600 people, the majority of Basque and Acadian descent. The fauna is more abundant on this island and its counterpart to the south, the island of Langlade. The 8 kilometer sand dune between the two islands is dotted with more than 500 shipwrecks.
Langlade: South of Miquelon, Langlade is a beautiful island surrounded by cliffs. Several farms specialize in organic produce and livestock. Langlade is also a preferred summer residence for many islanders.
The policy of San Pedro and Miguelón takes place as a democratic parliamentary representative in France being an overseas community, by virtue of which the President of the Territorial Council is the head of government. The executive power is exerced by the government.
San Pedro y Miguelón also has the option of sending a deputy to the French National Assembly and a senator to the French Senate.
Saint Peter and Miquelon is administratively separated into two communes (municipalities):
- Commune of Miquelon-Langlade
- Commune of San Pedro.