Geography of Prince Edward Island

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Prince Edward Island
LocationGulf of Saint Lawrence
Total islands62
Major islands1
Area5,683.91 km2 (2,194.57 sq mi)
Highest elevation152 m (499 ft)
Highest pointSprington Peak
ProvincePrince Edward Island
Largest settlementCharlottetown (pop. 36,094 (2016))
Population142,907 (2016)
Pop. density25.25/km2 (65.4/sq mi)
Ethnic groupsScottish (38.0%), English (28.7%), Irish (27.9%), French (21.3%), German (4.0%), and Dutch (3.1%)

The geography of Prince Edward Island is mostly pastoral with red soil, white sand, and scattered communities. Known as the "Garden of the Gulf", the island is located in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence north of Nova Scotia and east of New Brunswick, with which it forms the Northumberland Strait.


Prince Edward Island (PEI) consists of the capital city Charlottetown, as well as urban towns Cornwall and Stratford and a developing urban fringe. A smaller urban area surrounds Summerside Harbour, situated on the southern shore 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of Charlottetown Harbour, and consists primarily of the city of Summerside. As with all natural harbours on the island, Charlottetown and Summerside harbours are created by rias. (See also a list of communities in Prince Edward Island.) The highest point of land is located at Springton in Queens County, rising 152 metres (499 ft) above sea level.

The island's landscape is pastoral; rolling hills, pristine forests, white sand beaches, ocean coves and the red soil have given PEI a reputation as a province of outstanding natural beauty.[citation needed] A number of laws have been passed by the provincial government to attempt to preserve the landscape through regulation, although the lack of consistent enforcement and absence of province-wide zoning and land-use planning has resulted in some unsightly development in recent years.

The island's lush landscape has had a strong bearing on the island's culture. During the late Victorian Era, author Lucy Maud Montgomery used the island as the setting of her novel Anne of Green Gables. Today, the island attracts tourists in all seasons, with popular leisure attractions including beaches, golf courses, and eco-tourism.


Most rural communities on Prince Edward Island are based on small-scale agriculture, and the average size of farm properties less than other areas in Canada. There is an increasing amount of industrial farming as older farm properties are consolidated and modernized.


The coastline of the island consists of a combination of long beaches, dunes, red sandstone cliffs, saltwater marshes and numerous bays and harbours. The beaches, dunes and sandstone cliffs consist of sedimentary rock and other material with a high iron concentration which oxidizes upon exposure to the air. The geological properties of white silica sand found at Basin Head are unique in the province; the sand grains cause a scrubbing noise as they rub against each other under pressure. Large dune fields on the north shore can be found on barrier islands at the entrances to various bays and harbours. The sand dunes at Greenwich have a shifting, parabolic dune system that is home to a variety of birds and rare plants and is also a site of significant archaeological interest.

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