Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Thursday, 26 January 2012

Timeline: Canada

A chronology of key events:

1497 - Italian-born navigator John Cabot reaches the coasts of Newfoundland and Cape Breton.

Skaters on Rideau Canal, Ottawa
Canada's capital Ottawa, known as "Silicon Valley North"
1855: Settlement of Bytown rechristened Ottawa
Name has Indian origins
Population: 774,000

1534 - Jacques Cartier explores the St Lawrence river, claims the shores of the Gulf of St Lawrence for France.

1583 - Newfoundland becomes England's first overseas colony.

1600s - Fur trade rivalry between the French, English and Dutch; the Europeans exploit existing rivalries between Indian nations to form alliances.

1627 - Company of New France established to govern and exploit "New France" - France's North American colonies.

1670 - Hudson's Bay Company established by London traders. The company holds trading rights for regions whose rivers drain into Hudson Bay.

1701 - Thirty-eight Indian nations sign a peace treaty near Montreal with the French, ending 20 years of diplomacy.

British gains

1756 - Seven Years' War begins, between New France and the larger and economically-stronger British colonies. After early French successes, the settlement of Quebec falls in 1759 and the British advance on Montreal.

1763 - Under the Treaty of Paris, Britain acquires all French colonies east of the Mississippi including New France, which becomes the colony of Quebec.

1774 - The Quebec Act recognises the French language and the Roman Catholic religion in the colony.

1776 onwards - Loyalist refugees from the American War of Independence settle in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario.

Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver
Named after British explorer George Vancouver
Incorporated 1886
Population (metro area): 2 million