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Quebec /kəˈbɛk/ or /kwɪˈbɛk/ (French: Québec [kebɛk] (About this soundlisten)) is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking identity and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario, James Bay and Hudson Bay, to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay, to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. It is bordered on the south by the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

Quebec is the second most populous province, after Ontario. Most inhabitants live in urban areas near the Saint Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City, the capital. English-speaking communities and English-language institutions are concentrated in the west of the island of Montreal but are also significantly present in the Outaouais, the Eastern Townships, and Gaspé regions. The Nord-du-Québec region, occupying the northern half of the province, is sparsely populated and inhabited primarily by Aboriginal peoples.

Sovereignty plays a large role in the politics of Quebec, and the Official Opposition social democratic Parti Québécois advocates national sovereignty for the province and secession from Canada. Sovereignist governments have held referendums on independence in 1980 and 1995; both were voted down by voters, the latter defeated by a very narrow margin. In 2006, the Canadian House of Commons passed a symbolic motion recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within a united Canada."

While the province's substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry also play leading roles. These many industries have all contributed to helping Quebec become the second most economically influential province, second only to Ontario.

Fleur de lys du québec.svg  More about...Quebec, its history and diversity

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Map of New France, ca. 1750
Canada, New France was the name of the French colony that once stretched along the St. Lawrence River; the other colonies of New France were Acadia, Louisiana and Newfoundland. Canada, the most developed colony of New France, was divided into three districts, each with its own government:Québec, Trois-Rivières, and Montréal. The governor of the district of Québec was also the governor-general of all of New France.

Because of the level of development of Canada compared to the other colonies, the terms "Canada" and "New France" were often used interchangeably. After the Treaty of Paris of 1763, when France ceded Canada and its dependencies to Great Britain, the colony was renamed the Province of Quebec.

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Jacques Cartier 1851-1852.jpg
On June 24, 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier planted a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula and took possession of New France in the name of King Francis I of France. On his second voyage on May 26, 1535, Cartier sailed upriver to the St. Lawrence Iroquoian villages of Stadacona, near present-day Quebec City, and Hochelaga, near present-day Montreal.

In 1541, Jean-Francois de la Roque de Roberval became lieutenant of New France and had the responsibility to build a new colony in America. It was Cartier who established the first French settlement on American soil, Charlesbourg Royal.France was disappointed after the three voyages of Cartier and did not want to invest further large sums in an adventure with such uncertain outcome. A period of disinterest in the new world on behalf of the French authorities followed. Only at the very end of the 16th century interest in these northern territories was renewed.

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The Montreal skyline seen from the Mount Royal belvedere.


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