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Quebec is the largest province in Canada (in terms of area) and the second most populous, after Ontario, with a population of 7,598,100 (Statistics Canada, July 2005). This represents about 24% of the Canadian population. Quebec's official language is French; it is the only Canadian province where English is not an official language. The capital is Quebec City (Québec or la ville de Québec in French) and the largest city is Montreal.

A resident of Quebec is called a Quebecer (also spelled Quebecker) in English, and in French, un(e) Québécois(e), the latter also sometimes used in English.



The province occupies a vast territory (nearly three times the size of France), most of which is very sparsely populated. More than 90 percent of Quebec's area lies within the Canadian Shield and includes the greater part of the Labrador peninsula. The addition of parts of the vast and scarcely populated District of Ungava of the Northwest Territories between 1898 and 1912 created the modern Province of Quebec. Quebec is bordered by the province of Ontario, to the west, the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia to the east, the United States (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York) to the south and Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay to the north.

Montreal, North America's francophone Metropolis

The most populated region is the St. Lawrence River valley in the south, where the capital, Quebec City, and the largest city, Montreal, are situated. North of Montreal are the Laurentians, a range of ancient mountains, and to the east are the Appalachian Mountains which extends into the Eastern Townships and Gaspésie regions. The Gaspé Peninsula juts into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the east.

The northern region of Nunavik is subarctic or arctic and is mostly inhabited by Inuit. A major hydro-electric project is found on the La Grande and Eastmain rivers in the James Bay region (the La Grande Complex) and on the Manicouagan River, north of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

10 largest municipalities by population

Municipality 2001 1996
Montreal 1 812 723 1 774 846
Quebec City 532 329 504 605
Longueuil (Part of Greater Montreal) 348 091 373 009
Laval (Part of Greater Montreal) 343 005 330 393
Gatineau (Part of Ottawa-Gatineau) 226 696 217 591
Saguenay 148 050 153 476
Sherbrooke 146 689 135 501
Trois-Rivières 122 395 124 417
Lévis (Part of Greater Quebec City) 121 999 118 344
Terrebonne (Part of Greater Montreal) 80 531 75 110


The Lieutenant Governor represents Queen Elizabeth II as 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 Council of Ministers is appointed.

Until 1968, the Quebec legislature was bicameral, consisting of the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly. In that year the Legislative Council was abolished, and the Legislative Assembly was renamed the National Assembly. Quebec was the last province to abolish its legislative council.

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 St. Lawrence River Valley is a fertile agricultural region, producing dairy products, fruit, vegetables, foie gras, maple syrup (Quebec is the world's largest producer), and livestock.

North of the St. Lawrence River Valley, the territory of Quebec is extremely rich in resources in its coniferous forests, lakes, and rivers—pulp and paper, lumber, and hydroelectricity are still some of the province's most important industries.

High-tech industries are very important around Montreal. It includes the aerospace companies like jet manufacturer Bombardier, the jet engine company Pratt & Whitney, the flight simulator builder CAE and defence contractor Lockheed Martin, Canada. Those companies and other major subcontractors make Quebec the fourth biggest player worldwide in the aviation industry. Quebec's separatist debate has influenced many corporations to move their Canadian headquarters from Montreal to Toronto.


Château Frontenac, the world's most photographed hotel, is iconic to the province of Québec.

Quebecers comprise the largest French-speaking society in the Americas. Most French Canadians live in Quebec, though there are other concentrations of French-speakers throughout Canada with varying degrees of ties to Quebec. Montreal is the vibrant cosmopolitan cultural heart of Quebec. History made Quebec a place where cultures meet, where people from all over the world experience America, but from a little distance and through a different eye. Often described as a crossroads between Europe and America, Quebec is home to a people that are connected to the strong cultural currents of the United States, France, and the British Isles all at the same time.

Quebec is also home to 11 aboriginal nations and to a large English-speaking minority of approximately 600,000 people.


Quebec's fertility rate is now among the lowest in Canada. At 1.48, it is well below the replacement fertility rate of 2.1. This contrasts with the fertility rate before 1960 which was among the highest of the industrialized countries.

Although Quebec represents 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.

Quebec has a high-school dropout rate of 16%, the second highest such percentage in all of Canada.


The majority of the population are of French descent, approximately 80% of the population. There are also significant numbers of Irish, English, Italians, and Portuguese.

Ethnic origins

  • Québécois (French-Canadian) — + 82%
  • Irish — 4.1%
  • Italian — 3.5%
  • English — 3.1%
  • Scottish — 2.2%
  • North American Indians — 1.8%
  • German — 1.2%
  • Haitian — 1.0%

Religious groups

  • 83.3% Roman Catholic
  • 4.7% Protestant
  • 1.5% Muslim
  • 1.4% Orthodox
  • 1.2% Jewish
  • 0.8% other Christian
  • 7.1% non-religious


Quebec is the only Canadian province where French is the only official language. In 2001 the population was:

  • French speakers: 82.0%
  • English speakers: 7.9%
  • Others: 10.1% (Italian 5.2%, Spanish 2.3%, Arabic 1.9%, and others)


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