There has been human habitation in Manitoba for over 10,000 years, with consistent aboriginal presence throughout the region. In 1611 the first European explorer reached the area, when Henry Hudson was abandoned on the shores of Hudson Bay by his crew. It wasn't until the following year that exploration of the region began in earnest with the arrival of Sir Thomas Bolton at Lake Winnipeg. Sporadic exploration of the region continued through the 17th century, with the Hudson's Bay Company gaining control of a vast swathe of the North American interior, including modern-day Manitoba, which was referred to as Rupert's Land, in 1670. The area was vastly exploited for trade, particularly the fur trade, though the 18th century. Efforts were made by French traders to expand into the region, but these efforts were largely halted following the 1763 cessation of the Seven Years' War and subsequent cession of all French holdings in North America to the British. Permanent agrarian settlements began to appear in the region in 1812, which caused a great deal of conflict with native populations who had gotten on fairly well with the largely itinerant fur traders up until this point. There was also occasional violent conflict between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, rival fur traders who eventually conglomerated in 1821.
In 1869 the Hudson's Bay Company ceded Rupert's Land to the newly-formed Dominion of Canada, and it became attached to the vast existing administrative division of the North-West Territories. That same year the Red River Rebellion occurred. Lead by the Métis Louis Riel who sought more attention for Métis rights and issues, the rebellion resulted in the 1870 passage of the Manitoba Act, and subsequent creation of the province of Manitoba. Riel was soon forced from the region, and the Canadian government failed to honour promises to the Métis. Loss of land coupled with an influx of white settlers drove many Métis residents further west into modern-day Saskatchewan and Alberta. Treaties with native populations established a reserve system in the province. Originally quite small in size, Manitoba gradually obtained more land, reaching its modern dimensions in 1912. The province underwent a population boom in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but growth had slowed by 1914. Radical sentiment began to emerge and take hold following the First World War, due to economic discontent amongst labourers and farmers. This culminated in the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 which lasted a little over a month and spurred violent clashes between strikers and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In 1929 Manitoba, like the rest of the country, was hit by the Great Depression. Like other Western provinces, Manitoba was particularly hard struck, and these hard times lead to the creation of social reformist groups, such as the New Democrats, in the 1930s. The arrival of the Second World War in 1939 helped Manitoba to recover from the Depression, and it entered a period of post-war prosperity. The capital city was flooded in 1950, which lead to decades of flood prevention and diversion construction in the province that has proven largely successful. In 1990, Manitoba's failure to unanimously assent to the Meech Lake Accord, which attempted to persuade Quebec to endorse the Canada Act 1982, caused the accord to fail.
Manitoba is one of the Prairie provinces in Canada. It is bordered to the north by Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, to the northeast by Hudson Bay, to the east by Ontario, to the south by North Dakota and Minnesota, and Saskatchewan to the west. The capital of Manitoba is Winnipeg, which is also its largest city.
There are just over 1,208,000 people in Manitoba, 60% of whom live in Winnipeg. The most commonly reported ethnic origin is English, with 22% of the population claiming that origin. Other common ethnic origins include German, Canadian, French, Native, and Métis. Manitoba is also home to the largest population of Icelandic descent outside of Iceland. Christianity is the dominant religion, with over 87% of the population claiming adherence to some denomination. Just over 18% of the population claims no religious affiliation.
Manitoba is officially bilingual, however a majority of the population speaks English, with 75% claiming it as their mother tongue and almost 90% of the population claiming fluency only in English. Manitoba has also officially recognized seven Aboriginal languages.