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Newfoundland was claimed as an English colony in the name of Elizabeth I in 1583, temporarily captured by the Dutch in 1665, and attacked three times by the French who captured and destroyed its settlements in 1689 and 1707. St John's was retaken each time and re-fortified. British forces used St. John's fortifications during the Seven Years' War in North America, the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. St. John's served Allied needs in World War ll by providing an air base for the US Army Air Corps and a harbour for antisubmarine warfare ships.
St. John's, and the province as a whole, was gravely affected in the 1990s by the collapse of the Northern cod fishery, which had been the driving force of the provincial economy for hundreds of years. After a decade of high unemployment rates and depopulation the city's proximity to the Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose oil fields has led to an economic boom that has spurred population growth and commercial development. As a result, the St. John's area now accounts for about half of the province's economic output.