Québec is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in the province after Montreal, which is about 233 kilometres (145 mi) to the southwest. As of the 2006 Canadian Census, the city has a population of 491,142, and the metropolitan area has a population of 715,515.
The narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River approximate to Quebec City 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 in the Americas north of Mexico, and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 as the 'Historic District of Old Québec'.
Quebec City is internationally known for its Summer Festival, Winter Carnival, and the Château Frontenac, a hotel which dominates the city skyline. The National Assembly of Quebec (provincial parliament), the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (National Museum of Fine Arts), and the Musée de la civilisation (Museum of Civilization) are found within or near Vieux-Québec. Among the other attractions near the city are Montmorency Falls and the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in the town of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
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.
Quebec City has a humid continental climate characterized by cold and snowy winters, warm and rather humid summers, and ample precipitation throughout the year. Quebec City is one of the snowiest cities in Canada and is almost guaranteed a white Christmas. The prolonged winter season and ample snowfall led to the idea of establishing the Quebec Winter Carnival. The transitional seasons, spring and autumn, are rather short, although autumn produces spectacular foliage colours. The summer is the sunniest, and paradoxically, the wettest time of year.