The first Premier of Newfoundland, Joey Smallwood, coined the term "Atlantic Canada" when Newfoundland joined the Dominion of Canada in 1949. He believed that it would have been presumptuous for Newfoundland to assume that it could include itself within the existing term "Maritime Provinces", used to describe the cultural similarities shared by New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. The three Maritime provinces entered into confederation during the 19th century: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were founding members of the Dominion of Canada in 1867, and Prince Edward Island joined in 1873. Today Atlantic Canada is a culturally distinct region of Canada, with the original founding cultures of Celtic, English and French remaining strong and vibrant to this day.
Although Quebec has physical Atlantic coasts on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Ungava Bay, and the Hudson Strait, it is generally not considered an Atlantic Province.
2011 census figures for "Metropolitan Areas" (broadest definition, includes entire municipalities and all commuter municipalities) and "Population Centres" (limited to actual continuously-built-up area) in Atlantic Canada. The list includes communities above 15,000, by Metropolitan Area population, or 10,000 by Population Centre population.  In 2011, the region was 92.7% White, 4.1% Aboriginal, and 3.2% Visible Minorities.