The Port of Halifax is the capital of Canada's Nova Scotia Province. Lying on the shores of Halifax Harbor off the Atlantic Ocean in central Nova Scotia, the Port of Halifax rests on a rocky peninsula that divides the harbor into an inner and the outer basin that is home to the port. Located about 74 nautical miles northeast of the Port of Liverpool and about 100 kilometers southeast of Parrborough Harbor, the Port of Halifax is an important economic center for Canada and the business, government, and banking center for the maritime region. In 2006, over 372 thousand people called the Port of Halifax home.
The most important contributors to the local economy and jobs are the Port of Halifax and the Department of National Defence. The city houses a growing manufacturing sector and multi-modal transportation center. The rural areas surrounding the Port of Halifax include fishing, agriculture, forestry, mining, and extraction of natural gas. Mostly managed by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, many fishing harbors line the coasts of Nova Scotia and the Port of Halifax area.
The region of today's Port of Halifax and Halifax County was home to the indigenous Mi'kmaq peoples for thousands of years before Europeans arrived.
Explorer Samuel de Champlain visited the harbor in 1605, but the site of the future Port of Halifax was not settled until the early 1700s when it was a small French fishing station. The British settlement was founded and fortified in 1749 by Edward Cornwallis who wanted to establish an English presence in the face of the French stronghold at Cape Breton. That year, the colonial capital was moved to the Port of Halifax from Annapolis Royal.
Corwallis named the Port of Halifax settlement in honor of George Montagu Dunk, the 2nd Earl of Halifax and President of the Board of Trade and Plantations. The Port of Halifax was one of the most heavily fortified British army and navy bases outside Europe until the Canadian government took over the facilities in 1906.
After Canadian ownership, the Port of Halifax was never attacked, but it did fall victim to a huge explosion of a munitions ship in 1917 that killed almost two thousand people and destroyed much of the north section of the city. Despite that disaster, the Port of Halifax was the country's most important and biggest naval base during both World Wars.
The provincial government combined the municipal governments in Halifax County to create the Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996. The new municipality contains about 200 communities in 18 planning areas.
The modern Port of Halifax is the province's main industrial and commercial center. With an ice-free harbor, the Port of Halifax is an important exporter of fish, agricultural products, and lumber from the surrounding hinterlands. At the end point of two major railroads on the Atlantic Ocean, the Port of Halifax is connected to its hinterlands by rail and road.
The Port of Halifax is also connected by ferry and suspension bridges with Dartmouth on the other side of the harbor. The major industries in today's Port of Halifax include oil refineries, foundries, ship builders, and fish processors. Manufacturers in the Port of Halifax produce food products, automobiles, paint and varnish, rope and twine, clothing, and furniture.