Established by French in the 17th century, Quebec has been enriched by successive waves of immigrants throughout its history. Initially, colonists settled on the shores of the St Lawrence River.
Almost all of them came from Europe. Today, new residents come from around the world, and they contribute to the diversification and development of the society. Québec selects the applicants through Québec immigration services located on several continents. Moreover, when geopolitical conditions create pools of potential immigrants likely to want to come to Québec, the government sends immigration counsellors to areas where no permanent offices are maintained for newcomers who seek a better life in Quebec.
The province chooses immigrants most likely to successfully establish themselves here. The Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities of Quebec provides information on requirements and procedures with respect to immigration.
Today, Quebecers are meeting the challenge of living in French and maintaining a French-speaking society in North America, which is home to hundreds of millions of English-speakers. Still, while Quebec is mainly a French-speaking society, many English-speaking Quebecers, descended mainly from British immigrants, but also from other ethnic groups, live here. The first English-speaking immigrants left the United States after the American War of Independence, out of loyalty for the Great Britain. At present, about 600 000 English-speakers live in Québec.
They live above all in the Greater Montreal Area. Obviously, they enjoy recognized rights, such as an English-language school system from kindergarten up to and including university, a hospital network, legal system, means of communication and so on.
There are also some 90, 000 Native peoples in Québec, descendants of North America's first inhabitants. Of this number, about 80, 000 are Amerindians and 10,000 are Inuit.
Note than in 1991, some 75 % of the Quebec population claimed to be of French origin. Today, the relative importance of individuals of French origin decline.