Population: 14,493 (2001 census)
Area: 350 km2
Economy: Based on exports of fish and optical equipment. Local currency is pegged to the British pound; Canadian and American dollars are generally accepted as well, albeit not usually without some good-natured remarks at the purchaser’s expense.
Per Capita Income: US$43,700
Literacy Rate: 100%
When Newfoundland held its plebiscite on joining the Canadian Federation in 1949, the local vote on the fishing island of New Bretton was strongly against union. One week later, the island’s local government invoked an unusual provision in its original royal charter – dated 1678 – guaranteeing it the right to dissociate itself from any colonie, or other lands of ye king, or any conjoining to these at will. Initially dismissed as an anachronism, the clause was ultimately found legally binding by the Newfoundland courts. With the British showing no interest in maintaining a claim on this tiny fragment of their former colony, New Bretton thus became more or less by accident one of the world’s smallest independent entities.
Although they lack both a military and representation in most world bodies, New Brettons are a fiercely nationalistic people. “Never call a New Bretton a Canadian,” goes the local joke – “and the bigger he is, the more important that you don’t.” Though to the outsider there might seem to be little cultural distinction between the people of New Bretton and the Maritime Provinces, to the natives there is much substance in small differences.
New Bretton is spared many of the Northwest Atlantic region’s economic woes due to the presence of New Bretton Scientific, a leading world manufacturer of precision optical equipment. Occupying a bluff overlooking the capital and only real town, Ipswich, the company’s production facility employs one of every five adult New Brettons, many in highly skilled and well-paid positions. Local entrepreneur Brian Redham founded the company in his basement in 1962 while recovering from a work injury he sustained on a fishing trawler. He is now thought to be comfortably among the world’s richest 100 people.
Flag: A red St. George’s cross is evidence of the English ancestry of most islanders. The white background of the English flag is replaced by blue, however, on New Bretton’s banner. No symbolism is attached to the blue; a typically pragmatic New Bretton once told the author that “they had to pick something besides white; else it would still be the flag of England.”
National Anthem: “New Brettons, Proud and Free.”