Quebec (pronounced [kʰwəˈbɛk] or [kʰəˈbɛk]) or, in French, Québec (pronounced [kebɛk]) is a province in Canada. As of 2006, the Canadian House of Commons recognized "that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada" although there is considerable debate and uncertainty over what this means.
Affectionately known as la belle province ("the beautiful province"), Quebec is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario, James Bay and Hudson Bay. To the north are the Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay, to the east the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, and to the south the United States (the states of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine). It also shares maritime borders with the Territory of Nunavut and the provinces of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is the second most populated province, and most of its inhabitants live along or close to the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. The central and north portion of the province is sparsely populated and inhabited by the aboriginal peoples of Canada. Quebec operates North America's largest and most extensive civil service.
The official language of Quebec is French; it is the sole Canadian province whose population is mainly French Canadian, and where English is not an official language at the provincial level. Quebec has a strong and active nationalist movement, and has had controversial referendums on independence in 1980 and 1995. While the province's substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, Quebec has renewed itself to function effectively in the knowledge economy: information and communication technologies, aerospace, biotechnology, and health industries.