Quebec (French: Québec), also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City (French: Ville de Québec), is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec. As of 2011, the city has a population of 1,033,244, and the metropolitan area has a population of 1,531,412, making it the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about 233 km (145 mi) to the southwest.
The narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River proximate to the city's promontory, Cap-Diamant (Cape Diamond), and Lévis, on the opposite bank, provided the name given to the city, Kébec, an Algonquin word meaning "where the river narrows". Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) are the only remaining fortified city walls that still exist in the Americas north of Mexico, and were declared a World Heritage Site in 1985 as the "Historic District of Old Québec".
According to the federal and provincial governments, Québec is the city's official name in both French and English, although Quebec City (or its French equivalent, Ville de Québec) is commonly used, particularly to distinguish the city from the province. The city's most famous landmark is the Château Frontenac, a hotel which dominates the skyline. The National Assembly of Quebec (provincial legislature), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec), and the Musée de la civilisation (Museum of Civilization) are found within or near Vieux-Québec.
Most jobs in Quebec City are concentrated in public administration, defense, services, commerce, transport and tourism. As the provincial capital, the city benefits from being a regional administrative and services center: apropos, the provincial government is the largest employer in the city, employing 27,900 people as of 2007. CHUQ (the local hospital network) is the city's largest institutional employer, with more than 10,000 employees in 2007. In 2008, the unemployment rate in Quebec City was 4.5%, well below provincial and national averages (7.3% and 6.6%, respectively).
Around 10% of jobs are in manufacturing. Principal products include pulp and paper, processed food, metal/wood items, chemicals, electronics and electrical equipment, and printed materials. The city hosts the headquarters of a variety of prominent companies, including: fashion retailer La Maison Simons, engineering firms BPR and Roche Ltd, Consulting Group; investment fund Cominar; Industrial Alliance, La Capitale, Promutuel, SSQ Financial Group, and Union Canadienne in the insurance sector; Beenox, Frima Studio, Sarbakan and Ubisoft in the computer games industry; AeternaZentaris and DiagnoCure in pharmaceuticals; Amalgame, Cossette and Vision 7 in marketing and advertising; Institut National d'Optique (INO), EXFO, OptoSecurity in technology not forgetting the Desjardins Group, the area's largest employer in the financial sector.
The security and defense industries are quite prominent, and have given birth to an industrial pole: Technopôle Defence and Security.
Quebec City is located in the Saint Lawrence River valley, on the north bank of the Saint Lawrence River near its meeting with the St. Charles River. The region is low-lying and flat. The river valley has rich, arable soil, which makes this region the most fertile in the province. The Laurentian Mountains lie to the north of the city.
Upper Town lies on the top of Cap-Diamant (Cape Diamond) promontory. A high stone wall surrounds this portion of the city. The Plains of Abraham are located near the edge of the promontory. Lower Town is located at shore level, below Cap-Diamant.
The climate of Quebec City is classified as humid continental (Köppen climate classification Dfb).
Quebec City experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and occasionally hot, with periods of hotter temperatures which compounded with the high humidity, create a high heat index that belie the average high of 22–25 °C (72–77 °F) and lows of 11–13 °C (52–55 °F). Winters are often cold, windy and snowy with average high temperatures −5 to −8 °C (23 to 18 °F) and lows −13 to −18 °C (9 to 0 °F). Spring and Fall, although short, bring chilly to warm temperatures. Late heat waves as well as "Indian summers" are a common occurrence.
On average, Quebec City receives 1,190 millimeters (46.85 in) of precipitation, of which 899 millimeters (35.39 in) is rain and 303 millimeters (11.93 in) is the melt from 316 centimeters (124.4 in) of snowfall per annum. The city experiences around 1,916 hours of bright sunshine annually or 41.5% of possible sunshine, with summer being the sunniest, but also slightly the wettest season. During winter, snow stays on ground from about December to April.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Quebec City was 36.1 °C (97 °F) on July 17th 1953. The coldest temperature ever recorded was -36.7 °C (-34 °F) on January 10th 1890, and January 14th 2015.