Capital: Québec City
Motto: Je me souviens (Let us remember)
Flower: Fleur-de-Lys (Madonna Lily)
Population (1998): 7,334,094
From north to south, Quebec takes in three main geographical regions: the Canadian Shield, the St. Lawrence Valley and the Appalachian Mountains. Extending from the shores of the Canadian Arctic and including the Laurentians, Québec’s Canadian Shield covers about 60 percent of the land mass and contains some of the world's oldest rocks. Permafrost reigns in the northern part of the Shield; only dwarfed black spruce and lichen are able to grow there.
The St. Lawrence River, the dominant geographical feature of Québec's territory, links the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes. The Laurentians and the St. Lawrence Valley are dotted with more than a million lakes and rivers. Quebec's forests are equal in area to those of Sweden and Norway combined. To the south, the foothills of the Appalachians separate Quebec from the United States.
Québec exports 40 percent of its total production, mainly from the forest industry (printing, lumber and paper), mining (aluminum and iron ore) and transportation equipment manufacturing. Québec also exports electricity, engineering know-how, electronic products and telecommunications equipment. International exports now account for 20 percent of the province's gross domestic product.
Of a total population of over 7 million, roughly 6 million Francophones are descended from colonists who came from France in the 16th and 17th centuries. English-speaking residents of Quebec are descended mainly from British and Irish immigrants of the late 17th and 18th centuries, but also from other ethnic groups seeking a better life in North America. At present, there are some 590 000 Anglophones in Québec, most in the Montréal area.
*Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Copyright (c) 2003.