Prince Edward Island (PEI or P.E.I.; French: Île-du-Prince-Édouard, Scottish Gaelic: Eilean a' Phrionnsa) is a Canadianprovince consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population (excluding the territories). The island has a few other names: "Garden of the Gulf" referring to the pastoral scenery and lush agricultural lands throughout the province; and "Birthplace of Confederation", referring to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864.
According to the 2001 Canadian Census, the largest ethnic group consists of people of Scottish descent (38.0%), followed by English (28.7%), Irish (27.9%), French (21.3%), German (4.0%), and Dutch (3.1%) descent. In recent times the island has also received an influx of immigrants from Asia and Africa. Almost half of all respondents also identified their ethnicity as "Canadian."
The conference was originally planned as a meeting between representatives from the Maritime colonies only: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Newfoundland was thought to have no interest in a union, so they were not invited. Britain encouraged a Maritime Union between these colonies, hoping that they would then become less economically and politically dependent on the Crown, as well as provide for greater economic and military power for the region in light of the ongoing American Civil War. However another colony, the Province of Canada (modern Ontario and Quebec), heard news of the planned conference and asked that the agenda be expanded to discuss a union that would also include them. Newfoundland also requested to be able to attend the conference in August 1864, but by then it was too late to change the plans.
The coastline of Prince Edward Island consists of a combination of long beaches, dunes, red sandstone cliffs, salt water 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 a 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 when walked on. Large dune fields on the north shore can be found on barrier islands at the entrances to various bays and harbours. The magnificent sand dunes at Greenwich are of particular significance.