Quebec blends cultural heritage
QUEBEC has become one of Canada's most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors every year.
From vast tracts of untamed wilderness to bustling metropolis, the province has something for everyone. Its fascinating history, cosmopolitan culture and world-class cuisine make it unlike any other place in the world.
French culture is the essential ingredient in its unusual culture, which blends its French, Amerindian and British heritage, with that of its newer migrants.
The province is home to a number of internationally acclaimed festivals that mark its four seasons.
Summer is the time for open-air festivals such as the the Festival D'ete de Quebec, which runs from July 8 to 18, with street parades, fetes and a variety of free entertainment.
Winter brings a variety of snow-related carnivals such as the Winter Carnival which includes skating, and downhill and cross-country skiing championships.
In Quebec, it seems any reason is a good reason to celebrate.
The migration of snow geese, hot-air balloon competitions, whale watching on the St Lawrence River and blueberry picking are just a few occasions that warrant revelry.
The province's two major cities, Montreal and Quebec City, are the initial attraction for visitors.
Designated a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), each building and street of the capital, Quebec City, represents a page of history.
The enchanting combination of old and new, woven together by winding cobblestone streets, gives it a distinctly French flavour.
Montreal is the business hub of the province. It has combined high technology with history, where church spires and skyscrapers stand side by side.
One of Montreal's more unusual features is underground. Because of the extreme winters, which are too cold for the residents to brave above ground, there is an entire city composed of shopping complexes, transportation and entertainment facilities in almost 30 kilometres of underground passages.
Outside of the cities, the province boasts some of the most spectacular countryside in the world. More than half of Quebec's 1.6 million square kilometres is covered by forests, lakes and streams which are home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Realising the importance of protecting its natural resources, the citizens of Quebec have taken positive steps to improve the quality of their environment and to conserve their wildlife heritage.
In 1990, the Government devoted $300 million to a five-year programme for environmental research and technology. By 2000, there will be more than 100 nature reserves in the province.
Its rapidly expanding high technology sector, encompassing communications, aerospace, aeronautics and bio-medical science, has made the economy one of the most open in the world.
On the doorstep to North America, Quebec is the perfect launching pad for business ventures, providing easy access to the world's wealthiest market.
One of the first Canadian provinces to set up business links with Hongkong, relations between the two have flourished in recent years.