Halifax, or the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The Regional Municipality had a population of 819,202 in the 2011 Canadian Census. Halifax is the largest population centre in Atlantic Canada and largest in Canada east of Quebec City. Halifax was ranked by MoneySense magazine as the fourth best place to live in Canada for 2012, placed first on a list of "large cities by quality of life" and placed second in a list of "large cities of the future", both conducted by fDi Magazine for North and South American cities.
Halifax is a major economic centre in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, various levels of government, and the Port of Halifax. Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of HRM.
Unlike most municipalities with a sizable metropolitan area, the Halifax Regional Municipality's suburbs have been completely incorporated into the "central" municipality, often by referendum. For example, the community of Spryfield, in the Mainland South area, voted to amalgamate with Halifax in 1968. The most recent amalgamation, which brought the entirety of Halifax County into the Municipality, has created a situation where a large "rural commutershed" area encompasses almost half the municipality's landmass.
The Halifax Regional Municipality occupies an area of 2,353 square miles (6,094.2 kilometers), which is approximately 10% of the total land area of Nova Scotia. The land area of HRM is comparable in size to the total land area of the province of Prince Edward Island, and measures approximately 102.5 miles (164.96 kilometers) in length between its eastern and western-most extremities, excluding Sable Island. The nearest point of land to Sable Island is not in HRM, but rather in adjacent Guysborough County. However, Sable Island is considered part of District 7 of the Halifax Regional Council.
The coastline is heavily indented, accounting for its length of approximately 250 miles (402.34 kilometers), with the northern boundary of the municipality usually being between 30-37 miles (48.28-59.55 kilometers) inland. The coast is mostly rock with small isolated sand beaches in sheltered bays. The largest coastal features include St. Margarets Bay, Halifax Harbour/Bedford Basin, Cole Harbour, Musquodoboit Harbour, Jeddore Harbour, Ship Harbour, Sheet Harbour, and Ecum Secum Harbour. The municipality's topography spans from lush farmland in the Musquodoboit Valley to rocky and heavily forested rolling hills. It includes a number of islands and peninsulas, among them McNabs Island, Beaver Island, Melville Island, Deadman's Island and Sable Island.
Halifax has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), bordering on an Oceanic climate, with warm summers and relatively mild winters, which is due to Gulf Stream moderation. The weather is usually milder in the winter or cooler in the summer than areas at similar latitudes inland, with the temperature remaining (with occasional notable exceptions) between about −8 °C (17.6 °F) and 24 °C (76 °F). January is the coldest month, being the only month with a high that is slightly below freezing at −0.1 °C (31.8 °F), while August is the warmest. The sea heavily influences the climate of the area, causing significant seasonal lag in summer, with August being significantly warmer than June and with September being the third mildest month in terms of mean temperature. The January mean is only 1.1 °C colder than the isotherm for the oceanic climate.
Precipitation is high year-round. Winter features a mix of rain, freezing rain and snow with frequent freeze-thaw cycles. Snowfall is heavy in winter, but snow cover is usually patchy owing to the frequent freeze-thaw cycles, which melt accumulated snow. Some winters feature colder temperatures and fewer freeze-thaw cycles; the most recent of which being the winter of 2014-2015, which was the coldest, snowiest and stormiest in about a century. Spring is often wet and cool and arrives much later than in areas of Canada at similar latitudes, due to cooler sea temperatures. Summers are mild and pleasant, with hot and humid conditions very infrequent. Warm, pleasant conditions often extend well into September, sometimes into mid-October. Average monthly precipitation is highest from November to February due to intense late-fall to winter storms migrating from the Northeastern UAPR, and lowest in summer, with August being the year's warmest and driest month on average. Halifax can sometimes receive hurricanes, mostly between August and October. An example is when hurricane Hurricane Juan, a category 2 storm, hit in September 2003 and caused considerable damage to the region. Hurricane Earl grazed the coast as a category 1 storm in 2010. Atlantic sea surface temperatures have risen in recent years, making Halifax and the coast of Nova Scotia somewhat more susceptible to hurricanes than the area had been in the past.
The highest temperature ever recorded in the city of Halifax was 37.2 °C (99 °F) on July 10th, 1912, and the lowest temperature recorded was −29.4 °C (−21 °F) on February 18th, 1922. The March 2012 North American heat wave brought unusually high temperatures to the city of Halifax. On March 22nd, the mercury climbed to 28.2 °C (82.8 °F) at the Halifax Windsor Park weather station, and 27.2 °C (81 °F) at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. In spite of the possibility of high temperatures, in a normal year there is only one day that goes above 30 °C (86 °F). Halifax also has a modest frost count by Canadian standards due to the maritime influence, averaging 131 air frosts and 49 full days below freezing annually. On average the frost-free period is 182 days, ranging from May 1st to October 31st.