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Quebec: Location and Land

Location

The name Québec comes from "Kebec" in the Algonquin language. It means: "There where the river narrows," - referring to the narrowing of the St. Lawrence River off what is currently Québec City. Quebec is almost entirely surrounded by water: by Hudson Strait to the north, the St. Lawrence River and Gulf to the south, and James Bay and Hudson Bay to the west. It is bordered by Ontario to the west, New Brunswick and Labrador (the mainland portion of the province of Newfoundland) to the east. To the south, the foothills of the Appalachians separate Québec from the United States.

Landmass

Québec is Canada's largest province, it covers an area of 1,667,926 km2 (643,819 sq. mi.). From south to north, Québec extends over slightly more than 17 degrees of latitude and more than 22 degrees of longitude. Québec has abundant water resources. Groundwater covers 10% of its territory. Québec's coastline is roughly 9 000 km in length.

The Land

Known as 'la belle province' Québec is the only officially French-speaking province in Canada and has over 400 years of history. It is a land of vast wilderness, teeming resources and modern cities imbued with old-world charm.

From north to south Québec takes in three main geographical regions:

  • Canadian Shield
    The Canadian Shield covers about 60 percent of the land mass and is the world's oldest mountain range.
  • St. Lawrence Lowlands
    The St. Lawrence Lowlands are dotted with more than a million lakes and rivers.
  • Appalachian Mountains
    The Appalachians extend from the shores of the Canadian Arctic to the Laurentians,

The St. Lawrence River, the province's dominant geographical feature, links the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes.

Rivers

There are more than 130,000 rivers and 1 million lakes and waterways in Québec:

The Saint Lawrence River,

The Saint Lawrence River is one of the most important waterways in North America. The St. Lawrence crosses southern Québec from west to east, Covering 1,000 km, before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. From its source in the Great Lakes, it flows through a vast estuary and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the Atlantic. Roughly 1,200 km in length, it is one of the leading navigable waterways of the world and the main river route in North America.

The Saint Lawrence is 65 km wide in its estuary. It is a key gateway to the interior of the North American continent and marks the boundary between the United States and Canada over a distance of about 200 km.

In Canada, the river is navigable over its entire length. The Saint Lawrence Seaway links the Atlantic Ocean and the huge Great Lakes basin, thus opening up 3 800 km of navigable waterway. Moreover, it makes it possible to reach the Prairies in the west and leading industrial centres in Canada and the United States. The river can be divided into three main sections:

  • the river itself (from Lake Ontario to Lac Saint-Pierre)
  • the estuary (up to Pointe-des-Monts)
  • the gulf (up to the Cabot Strait)

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