Quebec (i/kwɨˈbɛk/ or /kɨˈbɛk/; French: Québec [kebɛk]) is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province that has a predominantly French-speaking population, and the only one to have French as its sole provincial official language. 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 US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Quebec is Canada's 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, 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. Quebec independence debates have played a large role in the politics of the province. Parti Québécois governments held referendums on sovereignty in 1980 and 1995; both were voted down by voters, the latter defeated by a very narrow margin. In 2006, the House of Commons of Canada 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 a very economically influential province within Canada, second only to Ontario in economic output. The name "Québec", which comes from the Algonquin word kébec meaning "where the river narrows", originally referred to the area around Quebec City where the Saint Lawrence River narrows to a cliff-lined gap. Early variations in the spelling of the name included Québecq (Levasseur, 1601) and Kébec (Lescarbot 1609). French explorer Samuel de Champlain chose the name Québec in 1608 for the colonial outpost he would use as the administrative seat for the French colony of New France. The province is sometimes referred to as "La belle province".
Located in the eastern part of Canada and (from a historical and political perspective) part of Central Canada, Quebec occupies a territory nearly three times the size of France or Texas, most of which is very sparsely populated. Its area is very different from one region to another due to the varying composition of the ground, the climate (latitude and altitude) and the proximity to water. The Saint Lawrence Lowland (south) and the Canadian Shield (north) are the two main topographic regions and are radically different.
Quebec has one of the world's largest reserves of fresh water, occupying 12% of its surface. It has 3% of the world's renewable fresh water, whereas it has only 0.1% of its population. More than half a million lakes, including 30 with an area greater than 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi), and 4,500 rivers pour their torrents into the Atlantic Ocean, through the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Arctic Ocean, by James, Hudson and Ungava bays. The largest inland body of water is the Caniapiscau Reservoir, created in the realization of the James Bay Project to produce hydroelectric power. Lake Mistassini is the largest natural lake in Quebec.
The Saint Lawrence River has some of the world's largest sustaining inland Atlantic ports at Montreal (the province's largest city), Trois-Rivières, and Quebec City (the capital). Its access to the Atlantic Ocean and the interior of North America made it the base of early French exploration and settlement in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since 1959, the Saint Lawrence Seaway has provided a navigable link between the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes. Northeast of Quebec City, the river broadens into the world's largest estuary, the feeding site of numerous species of whales, fish and sea birds. The river empties into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This marine environment sustains fisheries and smaller ports in the Lower Saint Lawrence (Bas-Saint-Laurent), Lower North Shore (Côte-Nord), and Gaspé (Gaspésie) regions of the province. The Saint Lawrence River and its estuary form the basis of Quebec's development through the centuries. At the same time, many affluent rivers testify to the exploration of land, among them Ashuapmushuan, Chaudière, Gatineau, Manicouagan, Ottawa, Richelieu, Rupert, Saguenay, Saint-François,
Quebec has three main climate regions. Southern and western Quebec, including most of the major population centres, have a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with four distinct seasons having warm to occasionally hot and humid summers and often very cold and snowy winters. The main climatic influences are from western and northern Canada and move eastward, and from the southern and central United States that move northward. Because of the influence of both storm systems from the core of North America and the Atlantic Ocean, precipitation is abundant throughout the year, with most areas receiving more than 1,000 millimetres (39 in) of precipitation, including over 300 centimetres (120 in) of snow in many areas. During the summer, severe weather patterns (such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms) occur occasionally. Most of central Quebec has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc). Winters are long, very cold, and snowy, and among the coldest in eastern Canada, while summers are warm but very short due to the higher latitude and the greater influence of Arctic air masses. Precipitation is also somewhat less than farther south, except at some of the higher elevations. The northern regions of Quebec have an arctic climate (Köppen ET), with very cold winters and short, much cooler summers. The primary influences in this region are the Arctic Ocean currents (such as the Labrador Current) and continental air masses from the High Arctic.
The four seasons in Quebec are spring, summer, autumn and winter, with conditions differing by region. They are then differentiated according to the brightness, temperature and precipitation of snow and rain.
Daily sunshine duration is eight hours in December, the time of year when it is the shortest. From temperate zones to the northern territories of the Far North, the brightness varies with latitude, as well as the Northern Lights and Midnight sun.
Quebec is divided into four climatic zones: arctic, subarctic, humid continental and East maritime. From south to north, average temperatures range in summer between 25 °C (77 °F) and 5 °C (41 °F) and, in winter, between −10 °C (14 °F) and −25 °C (−13 °F). In periods of intense heat and cold, temperatures can reach 35 °C (95 °F) in the summer and −40 °C (−40 °F) during the Quebec winter, they may vary depending on the Humidex or Wind chill.
The all-time record of the greatest precipitation in winter was established in winter 2007–2008, with more than five metres of snow in the area of Quebec City, while the average amount received per winter is around three metres. March 1971, however, saw the "Century's Snowstorm" with more than 40 centimetres (16 in) in Montreal to 80 centimetres (31 in) in Mont Apica of snow within 24 hours in many regions of southern Quebec. Also, the winter of 2010 was the warmest and driest ever recorded in more than 60 years.
The large land wildlife is mainly composed of the white-tailed deer, the moose, the muskox, the Caribou, the American black bear and the polar bear. The average land wildlife includes the cougar, the coyote, the Eastern wolf, the bobcat (wild cat), the Arctic fox, the Fox, etc. The small animals seen most commonly include the Eastern gray squirrel, the snowshoe hare, the Groundhog, the Skunk, the raccoon, the chipmunk and the Canadian beaver.
Biodiversity of the estuary and gulf of Saint Lawrence River consists of an aquatic mammal wildlife, of which most goes upriver through the estuary and the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park until the Île d'Orléans (French for Orleans Island), such as the blue whale, the beluga, the Minke whale and the Harp seal (Earless seal). Among the Nordic marine animals, there are two particularly important to cite: the walrus and the narwhal.
Inland waters are populated by small to large fresh water fish, such as the Largemouth bass, the American pickerel, the Walleye, the Acipenser oxyrinchus, the Muskellunge, the Atlantic cod, the Arctic char, the Brook trout, the Microgadus tomcod (tomcod), the Atlantic salmon, the rainbow trout etc.
The total forest area of Quebec is estimated at 750,300 square kilometres (289,700 sq mi). From the Abitibi-Témiscamingue to the North Shore, the forest is composed primarily of conifers such as the Abies balsamea, the Jack Pine, the white spruce, the black Spruce and the Tamarack. Some species of deciduous trees such as the Yellow Birch Yellow Birch appear when the river is approached in the south. The deciduous forest of the Saint Lawrence Lowlands is mostly composed of deciduous species such as the Sugar Maple, the Red Maple, the white Ash, the American beech, the Butternut (White Walnut), the American elm, the basswood, the Bitternut Hickory and the northern red oak as well as some conifers such as the Eastern White Pine and the Northern Whitecedar. The distribution areas of the Paper Birch, the Trembling Aspen and the Mountain Ash cover more than half of Quebec territory.
At the time of first European contact and later colonization, Algonquian, Iroquois and Inuit tribes were the peoples who inhabited what is now Quebec. Their lifestyles and cultures reflected the land on which they lived. Seven Algonquian groups lived nomadic lives based on hunting, gathering, and fishing in the rugged terrain of the Canadian Shield: (James Bay Cree, Innu, Algonquins) and Appalachian Mountains (Mi'kmaq, Abenaki). St. Lawrence Iroquoians, a branch of the Iroquois, lived more settled lives, planting squash and maize in the fertile soils of the St. Lawrence Valley. They appear to have been later supplanted by the Mohawk tribe. The Inuit continue to fish and hunt whale and seal in the harsh Arctic climate along the coasts of Hudson and Ungava Bay. These people traded fur and food and sometimes warred with each other.
Basque whalers and fishermen traded furs with Saguenay natives throughout the 16th century. The first French explorer to reach Quebec was Jacques Cartier, who planted a cross in 1534 at either Gaspé or Old Fort Bay on the Lower North Shore. He sailed into the St. Lawrence River in 1535 and established an ill-fated colony near present-day Quebec City at the site of Stadacona, a village of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. Linguists and archaeologists have determined these people were distinct from the Iroquoian nations encountered by later French and Europeans, such as the five nations of the Haudenosaunee. Their language was Laurentian, one of the Iroquoian family. By the late 16th century, they had disappeared from the St. Lawrence Valley.
Government and politics
The Lieutenant Governor represents the Queen of Canada and acts as the province's head of state. The head of government is the premier (called premier ministre in French) who leads the largest party in the unicameral National Assembly, or Assemblée Nationale, from which the Executive Council of Quebec is appointed.
The government of Quebec awards an order of merit called the National Order of Quebec. It is inspired in part by the French Legion of Honour. It is conferred upon men and women born or living in Quebec (but non-Quebecers can be inducted as well) for outstanding achievements.
The government of Quebec takes the majority of its revenue through the perception of a progressive income tax, a 9.5% sales tax and various other taxes (such as carbon, corporate and capital gains taxes), transfer payments from other provinces and direct payments. Quebec is the highest taxed jurisdiction in North America.
In the 2011 census, Quebec had a population of 7,903,001 living in 3,395,343 of its 3,685,926 total dwellings, a 4.7% change from its 2006 population of 7,546,131. With a land area of 1,356,547.02 km2 (523,765.73 sq mi), it had a population density of 5.8/km2 (15.1/sq mi) in 2011. In 2013, Statistics Canada estimated the province's population to be 8,155,334.
At 1.69 children per woman, Quebec's 2011 fertility rate is above the Canada-wide rate of 1.61, and is higher than it was at the turn of the 21st century. However, it is still below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. This contrasts with its fertility rates before 1960, which were among the highest of any industrialized society. Although Quebec is home to only 24% of the population of Canada, the number of international adoptions in Quebec is the highest of all provinces of Canada. In 2001, 42% of international adoptions in Canada were carried out in Quebec. By 2012, the population of Quebec reached 8 million, and it is projected to reach 9.2 million in 2056. Life expectancy in Quebec reached a new high in 2011, with an expectancy of 78.6 years for men and 83.2 years for women; this ranked as the third-longest life expectancy among Canadian provinces, behind those of British Columbia and Ontario.
All the tables in the following section have been reduced from their original size, for full tables see main article Demographics of Quebec.
Origins in this table are self-reported and respondents were allowed to give more than one answer.
Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,435,905) and may total more than 100 percent due to dual responses.
Only groups with 1.5 percent or more of respondents are shown.
Nearly 9% of the population of Quebec belongs to a visible minority group. This is a lower percentage than that of British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba but higher than that of the other five provinces. Most visible minorities in Quebec live in or near Montreal.
Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,435,905).
Only groups with more than 0.5 percent of respondents are shown
Quebec is unique among the provinces in its overwhelmingly Roman Catholic population. This is a legacy of colonial times when only Roman Catholics were permitted to settle in New France. The 2001 census showed the population to be 90.3 percent Christian (in contrast to 77 percent for the whole country) with 83.4 percent Catholic Christian (including 83.2 percent Roman Catholic); 4.7 percent Protestant Christian (including 1.2 percent Anglican, 0.7 percent United Church; and 0.5 percent Baptist); 1.4 percent Orthodox Christian (including 0.7 percent Greek Orthodox); and 0.8 percent other Christian; as well as 1.5 percent Muslim; 1.3 percent Jewish; 0.6 percent Buddhist; 0.3 percent Hindu; and 0.1 percent Sikh. An additional 5.8 percent of the population said they had no religious affiliation (including 5.6 percent who stated that they had no religion at all).
Percentages are calculated as a proportion of the total number of respondents (7,125,580)
French is the main language of 80% of Quebec residents. Altogether, 94% of the total population can speak it.
The official language of Quebec is French. Quebec is the only Canadian province whose population is mainly francophone; 6,102,210 people (78.1 percent of the population) recorded it as their sole native language in the 2011 Census, and 6,249,085 (80.0%) recorded that they spoke it most often at home. Knowledge of French is widespread even among those who do not speak it natively; in 2011, about 94.4 percent of the total population reported being able to speak French, alone or in combination with other languages, while 47.3% reported being able to speak English.
In 2011, 599,230 people (7.7 percent of the population) people in Quebec declared English to be their mother tongue, and 767,415 (9.8 percent) used it most often as their home language. The English-speaking community or Anglophones are entitled to services in English in the areas of justice, health, and education; services in English are offered in municipalities in which more than half the residents have English as their mother tongue. Allophones, people whose mother tongue is neither French nor English, made up 12.3 percent (961,700) of the population, according to the 2011 census, though a smaller figure - 554,400 (7.1 percent) - actually used these languages most often in the home.
A considerable number of Quebec residents consider themselves to be bilingual in French and English. In Quebec, about 42.6 percent of the population (3,328,725 people) report knowing both languages; this is the highest proportion of bilinguals of any Canadian province. In contrast, in the rest of Canada, in 2006 only about 10.2 percent (2,430,990) of the population had knowledge of both of the country's official languages. Altogether, 17.5% of Canadians are bilingual in French and English.
In 2011, the most common mother tongue languages in the province were as follows: (Figures shown are for single-language responses only.)
Following were Creoles (0.8%), Chinese (0.6%), Greek (0.5%), Portuguese (0.5%), Romanian (0.4%), Vietnamese (0.3%), and Russian (0.3%). In addition, 152,820 (2.0%) reported having more than one native language.
English is not designated an official language by Quebec law. However, both English and French are required by the Constitution Act, 1867 for the enactment of laws and regulations and any person may use English or French in the National Assembly and the courts of Quebec. The books and records of the National Assembly must also be kept in both languages. Until 1969, Quebec was the only officially bilingual province in Canada and most public institutions functioned in both languages. English was also used in the legislature, government commissions and courts.
Since the 1970s, languages other than French on commercial signs have been permitted only if French is given marked prominence. This law has been the subject of periodic controversy since its inception. The written forms of French place-names in Canada retain their diacritics such as accent marks over vowels in English text. Legitimate exceptions are Montreal and Quebec. However, the accented forms are increasingly evident in some publications. The Canadian Style states that Montréal and Québec (the city) must retain their accents in English federal documents.
Canada 2011 Census
Quebec has an advanced, market-based, and open economy. In 2009, its gross domestic product (GDP) of US$ 32,408 per capita at purchasing power parity puts the province at par with Japan, Italy and Spain, but remains lower than the Canadian average of US$ 37,830 per capita. The economy of Quebec is ranked the 37th largest economy in the world just behind Greece and 28th for the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.
The economy of Quebec represents 20.36% of the total GDP of Canada. Like most industrialized countries, the economy of Quebec is based mainly on the services sector. Quebec's economy has traditionally been fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and average productivity. The provincial GDP in 2010 was C$ 319,348 billion, which makes Quebec the second largest economy in Canada.
The credit rating of Quebec is currently rated Aa2 according to Moody's rating agency and A+ by S&P. The Quebec economy has changed dramatically in recent years. Between 1995 and 2001, the credit rating of Quebec was rated A2 by Moody's, considered the worst rating in Quebec's history. The provincial debt has reached 47% of GDP in 2011 which represent approximately C$129 billion or C$16 642 per inhabitant. The government of Quebec has announced it will reduce the provincial debt by 25% by 2025.
The Institut national de la recherche scientifique helping to advance scientific knowledge and to train a new generation of students in various scientific and technological sectors. More than one million Quebecers works in the field of science and technology which represents more than 30% of Quebec's GDP.
Quebec's economy has undergone tremendous changes over the last decade. Firmly grounded in the knowledge economy, Quebec has one of the highest growth rates of gross domestic product (GDP) in Canada. The knowledge sector represents about 30.9% of Quebec's GDP. Quebec is experiencing faster growth of its R&D spending than other Canadian provinces. Quebec's spending in R&D in 2011 was equal to 2.63% of GDP, above the European Union average of 1.84% and will have to reaches the target of devoting 3% of GDP to research and development activities in 2013 according to the Lisbon Strategy. The percentage spent on research and technology (R&D) is the highest in Canada and higher than the averages for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G7 countries. Approximately 1.1 million Quebecers work in the field of science and technology.
A mockup of a Bombardier CSeries being developed by Bombardier Aerospace. Since 1856, Quebec has established itself as a pioneer of modern aerospace industry. Quebec has over 260 companies which employ about 43,000 people. Approximately 62% of the Canadian aerospace industry is based in Quebec.
Quebec is also a major player in several leading-edge industries including aerospace, information technologies and software and multimedia. Approximately 60% of the production of the Canadian aerospace industry are from Quebec, where sales totaled C$ 12.4 billion in 2009. Quebec is one of North America's leading high-tech player. This vast sector encompassing approximately 7,300 businesses and employ more than 145,000 people.
Approximately 180 000 Quebeckers are currently working in different field of information technology. Approximately 52% of Canadian companies in these sectors are based in Quebec, mainly in Montreal and Quebec City. There are currently approximately 115 telecommunications companies established in the province, such as Motorola and Ericsson . About 60 000 people currently working in computer software development. Approximately 12 900 people working in over 110 companies such as IBM, CMC, and Matrox. The multimedia sector is also dominated by the province of Quebec. Several companies, such as Ubisoft settled in Quebec since the late 1990s.
The mining industry accounted for approximately 6.3% of Quebec's GDP. It employs approximately 50,000 people in 158 different companies.
The pulp and paper industries generate annual shipments valued at more than $14 billion. The forest products industry ranks second in exports, with shipments valued at almost $11 billion. It is also the main, and in some circumstances only, source of manufacturing activity in more than 250 municipalities in the province. The forest industry has slowed in recent years because of the softwood lumber dispute. This industry employs 68,000 people in several regions of Quebec. This industry accounted for 3.1% of Quebec's GDP.
Agri-food industry plays an important role in the economy of Quebec. It accounts for 8% of the Quebec's GDP and generate $19.2 billion. This industry generated 487,000 jobs in agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing of food, beverages and tobacco and food distribution.
In 2010, Quebec exports declined by 0.6% compared to previous years. Exports to the United States have remained fairly stable while those to Europe surged by 46.3% and sales to Asia were down 12.8%.The unemployment rate in Quebec is around 7%.
Several prominent Quebec companies work within the international market: the producers of pulp and paper Cascades and AbitibiBowater, the milk producer Agropur, the manufacturer of transport Bombardier, the company of information technology CGI, the Cirque du Soleil, the convenience stores Couche-Tard, the Garda (security company), the energy distributor Gaz Métro, the marketing firm Cossette Communication Group, the media and telecommunications company Quebecor, the accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, the Saputo empire and the Vachon bakery, the engineering and construction group SNC-Lavalin, etc.
The abundance of natural resources gives Quebec an advantageous position on the world market. Quebec stands out particularly in the mining sector, ranking among the top ten areas to do business in mining. It also stands for the exploitation of its forest resources.
Quebec is remarkable for the natural resources of its vast territory. It has about 30 mines, 158 exploration companies and fifteen primary processing industries. Many metallic minerals are exploited, the principals are gold, iron, copper and zinc. Many other substances are extracted including titanium, asbestos, silver, magnesium, nickel and many other metals and industrial minerals. However, only 40% of the mineral potential of Quebec is currently known. In 2003, the value of mineral exploitation reached Quebec 3.7 billion Canadian dollars. Moreover, as a major centre of exploration for diamonds, Quebec has seen, since 2002, an increase in its mineral explorations, particularly in the Northwest as well as in the Otish Mountains and the Torngat Mountains.
The vast majority (90.5%) of Quebec's forests are publicly owned. Forests cover more than half of Quebec's territory, for a total area of nearly 761,100 square kilometres (293,900 sq mi). The Quebec forest area covers seven degrees of latitude.
More than a million lakes and rivers cover Quebec, occupying 21% of the total area of its territory. The aquatic environment is composed of 12.1% of fresh water and 9.2% of saltwater (percentage of total QC area).
Tourism plays an important role in the economy of Quebec. Tourism represents 2.5% of Quebec's GDP and nearly 400,000 people are employed in the tourism sector. Nearly 30,000 businesses are related to this industry, of which 70% are located outside of Montreal and Quebec City. In 2011, Quebec welcomed 26 million foreign tourists, most of them from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Japan.
The province of Quebec has 22 tourist regions, each of which presents its geography, its history and culture. The capital, Quebec City, is the only fortified city in North America and has its own European cachet. The oldest Francophone city in North America, Quebec City was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 and has celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008. Montreal is the only Francophone metropolis in North America and also the second largest Francophone city after Paris in terms of population. This major centre of 3.6 million inhabitants is a tapestry of cultures from the world over with its many neighbourhoods, including Chinatown, the Latin Quarter, the Gay Village, Little Italy, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, the Quartier International and Old Montreal. Montreal has a rich architectural heritage, along with many cultural activities, sports events and festivals.
The province of Quebec has over 400 museums including the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, which is the oldest museum in Canada and one of the most important art institutions. It is Montreal's largest museum and is amongst the most prominent in Canada.
Quebec is also a religious tourism destination. The Basilique Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal are the most popular religious site in the province. In 2005, the Oratory was added to the List of National Historic Sites of Canada on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. Quebec has over 130 church and Cathedrals. All of which bear witness to the many origins that colonized the region.