Living Conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon
A short distance from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador lies Saint Pierre and Miquelon, an overseas collectivity of France. Its remoteness and obscurity marks it as culturally, economically and demographically distinct from the rest of North America. Living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon compare well with much of the developed world in some respects, but not all. Below are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon

  1. Economic Disputes Disrupted the Fishing Industry Fishing quota disputes with neighboring Canada have devastated the islands’ traditional economic reliance on the fishing industry. Moreover, in response to rampant overfishing, the International Arbitration Tribunal of New York’s prohibition on deep-sea cod fishing in 1992 ended centuries of this practice, contributing to the decline in living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
  2. The Service and Energy Sectors and Government Employment Supplanted Fishing – With the decline of the fishing industry, the service sector and government employment dominate the economy. As of 2010, the services sector comprised 86 percent of the islands’ GDP, while 2006 data indicates that (as of that year) agriculture constituted two percent of the GDP and industry comprised 15 percent. The construction of a thermal power plant in 2015 precipitated the expansion of the extractive industries and energy sector.
  3. Sex Ratios Differ Between Age Groups in this Aging Population – As of July 2018, the population of Saint Pierre and Miquelon stood at 5,471. At 41.44 percent of the total population, citizens 25 to 54 years old comprise the largest share of the population. Citizens 55 to 64 years old are 13.69 percent and citizens 65 years and older are 21 percent of the population. In younger age groups, the sex ratio skews in favor of males, a characteristic shared with citizens 55 to 64 years old but not with those 25 to 54 years old or 65 years and older.
  4. A Transforming Economy Impacts Unemployment Rates – Unemployment in the islands decreased from 9.9 percent of the labor force in 2008 to 8.7 percent of the labor force in 2015. The marginalization of the traditional fishing industry and the rise of the service sector and certain industries influence employment rates.
  5. Most Inhabitants are French-Speaking Catholic Basques and Bretons – As an overseas collectivity of the Republic of France, French is the official language of the islands. Most of the population descends from Basque and Breton fishermen. An estimated 99 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic.
  6. With Little Arable Land, the Population is Overwhelmingly Urban – As of 2018, 90.2 percent of the population resided in urban centers, mostly concentrated on Saint Pierre Island. Agriculture constituted two percent of the GDP as of 2006, although it employs as much as 18 percent of the labor force. As of 2011, only 8.7 percent of the land qualified as arable.
  7. Fertility is Low, While Life Expectancy is High – Estimates in 2018 indicated that total life expectancy was 80.7 years, 78.4 years for men and 83.2 years for women. Infant mortality lies at 6.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, 7.4 per 1,000 for male births and 5.3 per 1,000 for female births. However, the fertility rate is low, averaging at 1.57 children born per woman as of 2018.
  8. The Health Care System Functions Well – Saint-Pierre and Miquelon boasts a universal health care system. Until 2015, pursuant to an agreement between France and Canada, islanders could seek medical treatment in St. John’s, the capital of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Starting in 2015, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon began probing for an alternative to this prior arrangement as a result of increasing costs.
  9. The Educational System Conforms to Metropolitan France – Saint Pierre and Miquelon provides mandatory and free education from the ages of six to 16. Primary education lasts five years and secondary education lasts up to seven years, following the French model. Secondary education consists of a four-year program followed by three further years of study and the bestowal of a baccalaureate degree.
  10. Citizens Directly Elect Representatives to a Local Autonomous Legislature – As an overseas collectivity of the French Republic, Saint Pierre and Miquelon governs itself through a unicameral territorial council elected by absolute majority vote. This legislative body consists of 19 seats, 15 from Saint Pierre and four from Miquelon. An electoral college vote guarantees representation in the French Senate by a single senator for five-year terms.

Though living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon are not intolerable, opportunities for improvement exist. The archipelago’s relative remoteness allows it to avoid the attention of outsiders, yet it has not escaped the forces of globalization, of which the economic and cultural consequences have been tremendous. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Saint Pierre and Miquelon ought to dispel any notion that this is an inconsequential territory.

– Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Flickr

Overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon

The French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon are located off the coast of Newfoundland and have a population of about 5,533, according to July 2017 data. It is estimated that about 90 percent of inhabitants live on St. Pierre, while a smaller population lives on Miquelon. The islands focus largely on the fishing industry and have for over a century, but overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon has led to Canada imposing a long-term closure of the industry, causing a negative ripple effect on the economy of the islands.

The overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon started when the United States repealed Prohibition in 1933. The islands’ thriving economy decreased dramatically and forced the laborers to turn back to fishing. Since then, Saint Pierre and Miquelon have constantly been fishing, leading to the overfishing problem.

In addition to the issue of overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, there has been a decline in the number of ships using the Saint Pierre harbor. This could be due to the weather and the natural environment of the islands. Surrounding the islands are “treacherous currents and fog [that] have contributed to hundreds of shipwrecks off Saint Pierre and Miquelon.”

The four-mile strip of water between Saint Pierre and Miquelon is called “The Mouth of Hell” by the local fisherman because of the strong currents that have contributed to about 600 shipwrecks near the islands. The residents of Saint Pierre and Miquelon have used this to their benefit, as they can add to their earnings from fishing somewhat by salvaging the wreckage.

Dealing with overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon has not been easy for the residents of the islands, but there has been some progress with sustainability and trying to stabilize the island’s economy, as the residents have turned to other kinds of seafood fishing such as crab fishing. They have slowly developed other types of agricultural farming, including vegetables, poultry, cattle, sheep and pigs. The government of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is also working to grow its tourism industry. With the hope of more tourism on the islands, a more sustainable way of fishing and more farming, Saint Pierre and Miquelon’s prospects are looking brighter and more stable.

Jennifer Lightle

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon

Saint Pierre and Miquelon is a self-governing archipelago of France that resides near the Newfoundland and Labrador province of Canada. It is currently the only part of New France that remains under French control. Hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon is mainly attributed to climate change and overfishing.

Fishing on both commercial and local scales provides 41 percent of the population’s income. During U.S. Prohibition in the 1920s, the islands became a popular spot for rumrunners to import alcohol into the United States. Business was so successful that men quit their jobs to work on producing alcohol. As soon as Prohibition ended, the economy of Saint Pierre and Miquelon started suffering.

As of August 2017, the standard of living in Saint Pierre and Miquelon is already quite small in comparison to Paris. Additionally, it is also small in comparison with any territory or country. Although Saint Pierre and Miquelon has a low standard of living, they also import more than 95.35 million euros, mostly in clothing and meats.

The low cost of living in a way helps the people with access to very affordable fruits and vegetables. Some can cost less than one euro per pound. This low cost contributes to the lack of hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon because healthy food is readily available to them. Most only earn a monthly salary of 1,400 euros, with 0.92 euros being equivalent to one U.S. dollar.

In 2008, the unemployment rates were 9.9 percent, contributing to a rise in poverty and ultimately hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon. The fluctuation in fishing profits directly influences the standard of living. The inhabitants have earned their income through the fishing trade, both domestically and internationally, which contributed to their economy and dinner plates. This economy, however, has been declining due to disputes with Canada over fishing quotas, and the use of overfishing.

Although France subsidizes Saint Pierre and Miquelon to the great benefit of living standards, the current living standards remain quite low. An average monthly salary in Paris is over 2,000 euros, which contributes to their high standard of living and low poverty, along with a large number of profits from tourism.

Through the islands, rich smuggling history and many sights to visit, Saint Pierre and Miquelon could thrive with a successful tourist industry that might counteract the effects of the fishing economy decreasing. With a boost to the economy, hunger in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, as well as the unemployment, could be improved upon while creating a higher standard of living.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr


Off the coast of Newfoundland in North America lie the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a French territory with a rich history and a poor economy. Poverty in Saint Pierre and Miquelon has increased because the islands are reliant on a fishing industry plagued by overfishing and global climate change. The fishing economy downturn, which has caused the present state of poverty in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, threatens to prevent the expansion of clean water infrastructure and, by extension, sanitation.

Once bustling epicenters, notorious for their pivotal role in illegal alcohol importation into the U.S. during prohibition, these islands are now faced with a severe lack of economic stimulus, causing a certain level of stagnation in the territory.

Poverty in Saint Pierre and Miquelon can largely be attributed to their suffering fishing industry, which is under pressure from competing for Canadian commercial fishing, global climate change and general overfishing. Fishing, on both the commercial and local scale, provides the livelihoods of 41 percent of the territory’s population. This means that any fluctuation in fishing profits directly influences the standard of living for almost half the territory’s population.

Although the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon are a territory of France, a country with one of the highest nominal GDP’s in Europe, the islands are far away from entertaining the standard of living enjoyed by the land-locked French.

France is responsible for much of the existing infrastructure and development which has occurred on Saint Pierre and Miquelon. However, France lacks the fiscal budget or political interest to fully incorporate Saint Pierre and Miquelon, forcing the islands to find new ways to expand their economy in order to accommodate their growing population and standard of living.

Tourism is one sector Saint Pierre and Miquelon could potentially utilize as a respite from the contracting revenues of the fishing industry. With the territory’s intriguing smuggling history and its arguable position as the last true French outpost in North America, the potential for a thriving tourism economy is present. However, significant revenue from the tourism industry remains to be seen.

Nevertheless, tourism is a largely untapped industry with huge potential for the territory and could be a source of income for improving water quality and sanitation across the islands.

Spencer Linford

Photo: Flickr