Quebec is the largest of the Canadian provinces at over 643,000 square miles. That is more than three times the size of France!
Nearly half the province is forested and nearly 10% of its surface area is made up of water by the 750,000 lakes and 130,000 rivers.
One of the major rivers is the St. Lawrence River, one of the most important navigable waterways in the world. Not only does it connect the Great Lakes with the Atlantic but, for part of its course, it also forms the border between the US and Canada.
Its strategic value made it the source of fierce fighting between the French and British and the French influence is still felt today. Whilst the name Quebec comes from an Algonquin word for “where the river narrows” it was the French who became the first Europeans to explore and then colonise the region.
French is the first language of more than 80% of the population. It is the official language and one used most frequently in official, business and cultural situations.
To help integrate immigrants into the francophone society, those who do not speak the language are assisted through French courses and online courses to help those abroad.
It should be noted that successive governments have passed laws to ensure that the French language remains central and integral to Quebec’s identity whilst guaranteeing the English-speaking minority the use of its language and institutions.
Modern Quebec has abundant natural resources including a huge natural supply of water that, today, allows some 75% of Quebec’s power energy needs to be met by hydroelectric power. It is also a major producer of metallic minerals which supports over 16,000 direct and 14,000 indirect jobs.
Huge softwood and hardwood forests support over 80,000 jobs and generates around one in six of all jobs in outlying regions. For many municipalities, the forest industry is the mainstay of the local economy.
Quebec also benefits from its close proximity to the US market, where around 70% of its exports go. Europe and Asia take over 15% and 6% respectively.
Whilst the Provincial Capital is Quebec City, the largest and best known city is Montreal.