Quebec is the largest Canadian province in area and the second largest in population. Bordered on the Southeast by the United States and New Brunswick, on it’s Southwest by Ontario, on it’s West and North by Hudson Bay, and on it’s Northeast by Newfoundland. Quebec is a mainly French-speaking society. Québec has more than 1 million lakes and waterways. The Saint Lawrence River, one of the most beautiful stretches of water in North America, crosses Québec from west to east, for 1000 km.
Québec’s economy is highly industrialized and diversified. The province itself is home to the 38th largest economy in the world. Quebec’s advanced manufacturing sector produces a wide variety of products for export, such as air traffic control equipment, software, subway trains, helicopters, compact disks, air purifiers, and toys. Montreal, the province’s commercial capital, has developed competitive industries in space and aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, energy, transportation, and finance. Montreal has also recently become known for its software startups, most notably with regards to the entertainment industry and follows Vancouver as a major movie-production center. In addition, the Province of Quebec is very rich in natural resources. Quebec produces more than a third of Canada’s pulp and paper products and a large percentage of its soft lumber. The state-owned energy sector produces and sells large quantities of hydro-electricity to neighboring provinces and the United States.
Quebec is home to one of the most affordable and comprehensive educational systems in North America. The province has the highest rate of private school attendance of any Canadian province. Quebec has a public school system that is unique within Canada. While most Canadian provinces offer publicly funded schools through to the end of Grade 12, Quebec’s secondary school students receive their diplomas after Grade 11. After completing secondary school, Quebec students may attend free pre-university or vocational programs through the province’s CEGEP (Collège d’Enseignement Général et Professionel) system. These schools offer, with free tuition, either 2 year pre-university programs or 3 year vocational programs for diplomas. Quebec chose this structure for their educational system in order to ensure that at least some amount of post-secondary education is universally accessible.
The system of universities in Quebec includes a network of institutions that offer world-class education in both official languages. Montreal itself is home to four sizable universities, giving it the highest percentage of university students in its population of any major North American city except Boston. Most notably, McGill University and L’Université de Montreal are well renowned around the world for their scholarship and research, producing numerous Nobel prize winners. In addition, Concordia University and Bishop’s University, and L’école des Hautes Etudes Commerciales and L’Université de Laval offer competitive and well-respected educational programs. The average yearly tuition paid by Quebec students is the lowest in Canada, and the province offers a number of generous student aid-programs.