Quebec (pronounced "keh-BECK" or "kwe-BECK"; French: le Québec) is a Canadian province with a population of 7,487,200 (Statistics Canada, 2003), primarily speakers of the French language making up the bulk of the Francophone population in North America. The capital is Quebec City and the largest city is Montreal. A resident of Quebec is called a Quebecer (also spelled Quebecker) or, in French, un(e) Québécois(e).
The province's three largest hydro-electric projects are built on La Grande Rivière. The extreme north of the province, now called Nunavik, is subarctic or arctic and is home to part of the Inuit nation.
After 1627, King Louis XIII of France introduced the seigneurial system and forbade settlement in New France by anyone other than Roman Catholics, ensuring that welfare and education was kept firmly in the hands of the church. New France became a royal province in 1663 under Louis XIV and the intendant Jean Talon.
In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act that allowed Quebec to maintain the French Civil Code as its judicial system and sanctioned the freedom of religious choice, allowing the Roman Catholic Church to remain.
During the 1960s a marginal terrorist group known as the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) launched a decade of bombings, robberies and attacks on government offices. Their activities culminated in events referred to as the October Crisis when James Cross, the British trade commissioner to Canada, was kidnapped along with Pierre Laporte, a provincial minister and Vice-Premier, who was murdered a few days later. It has been discovered that under Trudeau's demand, some RCMP agents infiltrated the group and even pushed them into terrorist actions, so as to turn the public opinion against an aspiration shared by most francophones in Quebec.
On October 30, 1995, in a second referendum the vote for Quebec independence was rejected by an extremely slim margin (50.6% NO to 49.4% YES). The federal Liberal Party under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien came under sharp criticism for mishandling the "No" side of the referendum campaign.
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.
The St. Lawrence River Valley is a fertile agricultural region, producing dairy products, fruit, vegetables, maple sugar (Quebec is the world's largest producer), and livestock.
Quebec is at once a North American society and the main French-speaking society on the continent. Montreal, the vibrant cosmopolitan metropolis of Quebec, is the second largest francophone city after Paris. 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 has the privilege of being 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 cultures and that of an Anglophone 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 is sometimes referred to as "La Belle Province" which means "The Beautiful Province". Until the late 1970s, this phrase was
displayed on Quebec licence plates. It has since been replaced by the province's official motto: "Je me souviens" which means "I remember".