There has been human habitation in Quebec since about 10,000 BCE, with varied and diverse native populations existing in the region. At the time of first European contact with the region in around 1508, dominant native tribes were the Algonquian, the Iroquois, and the Inuit. Jacques Cartier planted a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula, claiming the area for France in 1534. Efforts at settlement largely failed for the next few decades, though trade flourished along the St. Lawrence River. After an initial attempt in 1603, Samuel de Champlain officially established Quebec City in 1608, creating the first permanent settlement in the province. This city was used as a basis for trade, exploration and colonization by numerous groups. The area became known as New France, becoming a Royal Province in 1663 and undergoing massive immigration and modest population growth. Attempts to drive English-speaking traders from the region spurred the Seven Years' War which eventually raged across the world. This lead to an English attack on New France in 1758, and the defeat of the French General Montcalm by the English General Wolfe, and in 1763 France ceded New France and other North American holdings to the British. The region was renamed the Province of Quebec.
Efforts to assimilate the existing French populations into English culture were largely failures, and abandoned in the run-up to the Revolutionary War, when efforts were made to appease the population rather than rile them further and risk them siding with the Americans. The passage of the Quebec Act of 1774 permitted the maintenance of the French language, as well as maintaining French civil law and allowing the practice of Roman Catholicism. Despite revolutionary attempts to invade, Quebec remained in British control throughout the war. An influx of Loyalist refugees destabilized the region severely, and lead to the separation of the province into Upper and Lower Canada, with Lower Canada retaining French customs and traditions and Upper Canada becoming more English. This state of affairs lasted until 1837 when the Patriote rebellion of Lower Canada spurred efforts to reunite the two, which culminated in 1840 with the Act of Union and the creation of the politically united Province of Canada, while each region remained administratively distinct. 1848 saw the establishment of responsible government in the province, and the reinstatement of French as an official language. In 1867 the British North America Acts confederated the province of Canada (now Quebec and Ontario) with the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to form the Dominion of Canada. Quebec's borders were officially established in 1912.
As with the rest of the country, Quebec underwent a severe economic downturn in the Great Depression, but regained strength during the Second World War. However, this period marked a rising tension between francophones and anglophones, culminating in the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, a period of marked social and cultural changes which affirmed the importance of French culture and marked the decline of anglophone domination of Quebec affairs. In 1970 the October Crisis, in which radical separatists called the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped two government officials, spurring the implementation of the War Measures Act, which saw deployment of the Canadian Forces in Quebec and the Canadian capital of Ottawa. The crisis ended following the death of one hostage, and the rescue of the other in early December of that year. Through the 1970s efforts by the Parti Québécois were made to separate Quebec from the rest of Canada, but these efforts proved consistently unsuccessful, with a referendum held in 1980 revealing that a majority of Quebec residents wished to remain in Canada. In 1982 Quebec refused to assent to the patriation of the Canadian constitution, becoming the only province to do so. It has consistently refused to assent to this day. In 1994 a second attempt at sovereignty was made by the Parti, which again failed. This officially put Quebec in its place, as the place of Quebec is in Canada. In 2003 the National Assembly of Quebec affirmed itself as a nation, and this was followed in 2006 by a symbolic motion in the House of Commons acknowledging Quebec's status as a nation within Canada.
Quebec is the largest province in Canada. It is bounded to the north by Ungava Bay; to the northeast by Labrador; to the east by the Gulf of St Lawrence and New Brunswick; to the south by four American states and Ontario; and to the west by Ontario and Hudson's Bay. Its capital is Quebec City, while its largest city is Montreal.
There are just over 8,054,000 people living in Quebec. The most commonly reported ethnic origin is Canadian/Canadien, with 60% of the population giving that origin. Significant populations identifying their origins as French, Irish, Italian, English, Native, Scottish, Québécois, German, Chinese, and Haitian also exist. There are also small populations of other ethnic origins that do not make up more than 1% of the total population. Christianity is the dominant religion, with an overwhelming majority belonging to the Catholic church. Populations of other religions, including Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh groups, do not exceed 2% of the population.
A majority of the population speaks French as a first language, and almost all residents are conversant; Quebec is notable for being the only province where this is the case. Other languages, such as Arabic, Spanish, and Italian, are also spoken but do not exceed 2% of the population.
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