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Cape Breton Highlands

Cape Breton Highlands

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The Cape Breton Highlands, commonly called the Highlands, refer to a highland
Highland (geography)
The term highland or upland is used to denote any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, the term upland tends to be used for ranges of hills, typically up to 500-600m, and highland for ranges of low mountains.The Scottish Highlands refers to the mountainous...

 or mountainous plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 of ancient rock across the northern part of Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

 in the Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 province of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

.

Considered an extension of the Appalachian mountain chain
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

, the Highlands comprise the northern portions of Inverness
Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Inverness County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Its territory is almost contiguous with the Municipality of Inverness County, which only excludes the town of Port Hawkesbury and First Nation reserves.-History:...

 and Victoria counties
Victoria County, Nova Scotia
Victoria County is a county in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.The shire town and largest municipality is the village of Baddeck.-History:Named after Queen Victoria, it was established by statute in 1851...

.

The Highlands are surrounded by water with the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the Cabot Strait
Cabot Strait
Cabot Strait is a strait in eastern Canada approximately 110 kilometres wide between Cape Ray, Newfoundland and Cape North, Cape Breton Island. It is the widest of the three outlets for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence into the Atlantic Ocean, the others being the Strait of Belle Isle and Strait of Canso...

 to the north and east, the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the north and west, and Bras d'Or Lake
Bras d'Or Lake
Bras d'Or Lake is a large body of salt water dominating the centre of Cape Breton Island in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. Bras d'Or Lake is sometimes referred to as the Bras d'Or Lakes or the Bras d'Or Lakes system, however its official geographic name is Bras d'Or Lake as it is a singular...

 to the south. Elevations average 350 metres at the edges of the plateau (ie. at the above-mentioned water bodies), and rise to more than 500 metres at the centre, including the highest elevation point in the province at White Hill
White Hill (Nova Scotia)
White Hill is a Canadian peak in the Cape Breton Highlands and is the highest elevation point in the province of Nova Scotia.Located on the plateau northwest of Ingonish and northeast of Cheticamp, the peak is situated in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and is accessible only by...

.

The plateau consists of numerous broad, gently rolling hills bisected with deep valleys and steep-walled river canyons. The southern and western edges of the plateau give way to broad valleys with soils resulting from glaciation, providing some of Cape Breton's best agricultural lands. Most of the interior and southern edges of the plateau are covered with damp, cool deciduous
Deciduous
Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally, and to the shedding of other plant structures such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe...

 forests which makes for spectacular colours during autumn foliage. Southward facing slopes above 300 metres in elevation generally only support Balsam Fir
Balsam Fir
The balsam fir is a North American fir, native to most of eastern and central Canada and the northeastern United States .-Growth:It is a small to medium-size evergreen tree typically tall, rarely to tall, with a narrow conic crown...

, as a result of the short growing season and harsh winter climate. The northern and western edges of the plateau, particularly at high elevations, resemble arctic tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

.

The west coast of the Highlands meets the Gulf of St. Lawrence in steep cliffs whereas the east coast borders the Atlantic Ocean with a gently sloping coastal plain, low headlands, and several beaches.

In 1936 the federal government established the Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands National Park is located on northern Cape Breton Island in the province of Nova Scotia. One-third of the Cabot Trail passes through the park featuring spectacular ocean and mountain views. The park was the first National Park in the Atlantic provinces of Canada and covers an...

 covering 950 km² across the northern third of the Highlands. The Cabot Trail
Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail is a highway and scenic roadway in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.It is located in northern Victoria County and Inverness County on Cape Breton Island....

 scenic highway also encircles the coastal perimeter of the plateau. While the coastal areas of Inverness and Victoria counties along the plateau are home to several dozen small fishing and tourism-related communities, the interior of the plateau has no public roads and very little human presence, making it one of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

's largest wilderness areas.

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