Saturday, 7 January 2012

Quebec, Canada

Heather visited Canada last year and sent me some truly wonderful postcards from there. This is one of them and possibly my favourite - I love cartoon maps like this!

Quebec is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario, James Bay and Hudson Bay, to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay, to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. It is bordered on the south by the US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

Quebec is Canada's second most populous province, after Ontario. Most inhabitants live in urban areas near the Saint Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City, the capital. English-speaking communities and English-language institutions are concentrated in the west of the island of Montreal but are also significantly present in the Outaouais, Eastern Townships, and Gaspé regions. The Nord-du-Québec region, occupying the northern half of the province, is sparsely populated and inhabited primarily by Aboriginal peoples.

Sovereignty plays a large role in the politics of Quebec, and the official opposition social democratic Parti Québécois advocates national sovereignty for the province and secession from Canada. Sovereignist governments have held referendums on independence in 1980 and 1995; both were voted down by voters, the latter defeated by a very narrow margin. In 2006, the Canadian House of Commons passed a symbolic motion, the Québécois nation motion, recognizing the "Québécois as a nation within a united Canada."

While the province's substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry also play leading roles. These many industries have all contributed to helping Quebec become the second most economically influential province, second only to Ontario.

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