There has been human habitation in Alberta for at least 8,000 years, when the first Paleo-Indians migrated into the area. Native groups lived in the region for the next several thousand years with little change until the mid-18th century, when European explorers, probably Frenchman Pierre La Vérendrye or his sons, began to travel into the interior to extend the fur trade. Settlements, generally under the auspices of the Hudson's Bay Company or the French North West Company, began to appear in the area to expand the fur trade. The French interception of furs at posts in Alberta and Manitoba negatively impacted the Hudson's Bay Comapany, which had officially been granted much of the region as part of the massive Rupert's Land in 1670. Fierce and occasionally violent competition continued between the two companies until they merged under the Hudson's Bay name in 1821. The Hudson's Bay Company maintained a monopoly of the region until 1868, when they ceded all of their territorial holdings, now all conglomerated as the Northwest Territories, to the newly-formed Dominion of Canada. This spurred massive immigration to the area by white Canadians moving into the interior from the provinces. This in turn lead to rising tensions between the immigrants and native populations, who found themselves increasingly encroached upon and marginalized. To control the growing lawlessness and chaos the North-West Mounted Police were created in 1873, and made their way into Alberta by 1874, establishing numerous fort strongholds from which to enforce law and order. This stability brought increased settlement to the area, as did the trans-continental railway being required to pass through the region to reach the Pacific Ocean. In 1882 the District of Alberta was officially created as an administrative district within the Northwest Territories. In 1885 the North-West Rebellion broke out, lead by Louis Riel, and extended through modern-day Saskatchewan and Alberta. The partially completed Canadian Pacific Railway was used to transport Ontarian troops to Alberta to put down the rebellion. Following this a massive influx of immigrants from Canada and the United States poured into the region, and eventually immigration from Europe was also encouraged. The region flourished through the late 19th and into the twentieth century, particularly through the growth of the cattle industry.
At the start of the twentieth century Albertans began to lobby for provincial status. On September 1st, 1905 Alberta and neighbouring Saskatchewan were granted provincehood. In the run-up to the First World War, immigration increased massively and Alberta's population swelled. During the 1920s the province suffered economic instability that worsened massively as the rest of the country entered the Great Depression. This lead to the creation of numerous militant social reformist groups that dominated politics in the region for some time, until collapsing after proving unable to actually mitigate most of the troubles facing Albertans. The area remained massively depressed until around the time of the Second World War, when they began to develop their massive oil resources. Oil and gas production made the province prosperous, and were developed extensively through the 1940s and 1950s, and continue to provide wealth to this day. The province underwent massive urbanization throughout the remainder of the twentieth century. In 1991 the oil fields hit their peak, but oil from the oil sands and natural gas are still strong. In 2013 massive flooding hit much of the province, prompting numerous declarations of a state of emergency by various regions.
Alberta is one of the Prairie provinces in Canada. It is bordered to the north by the Northwest Territories, to the east by Saskatchewan, to the south by Montana, and to the west by British Columbia. The capital of Alberta is Edmonton, while its largest city is Calgary.
There are just over 3,645,000 people living in Alberta, making it the most populous of the prairie provinces. A small majority of the population claims English ancestry, with just over 27% claiming this ancestry. Other major ethnic groups include German, Canadian, Scottish, Irish, French, and Ukrainian. There are also smaller populations that do not exceed 10% of the total population. Christianity is the dominant religion, with over 71% of the population claiming adherence to some denomination. About 24% of the population claims no religion. Other populations of religious affiliations such as Muslim, Buddhist, and Sikh do not individually exceed 2% of the total population.
A majority of the population speaks English, with about 80% of the population claiming it as their mother tongue. About 2% of the population speaks Canada's other official language, French, as a mother tongue. Populations of other languages, such as Chinese, German, and Punjabi, do not exceed 5% of the population.