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The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day.
Prior to European colonization, the lands encompassing present-day Canada were inhabited for millennia by Indigenous peoples, with distinct trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and styles of social organization.
The Norse, who had settled Greenland and Iceland, arrived around the year 1000 and built a small settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland (carbon dating estimate 990 – 1050 CE) Under letters patent from King Henry VII of England, the Italian John Cabot became the first European known to have landed in Canada after the time of the Vikings.
Records indicate that on 24 June 1497 he sighted land at a northern location believed to be somewhere in the Atlantic provinces.
The colony of New France was established in 1534 and was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 after the French defeat in the Seven Years' War.
The now British Province of Quebec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791 and reunified in 1841.
Ice Age hunter-gatherers of this period left lithic flake fluted stone tools and the remains of large butchered mammals.
The North American climate stabilized around 8000 BCE (10,000 years ago).
The new dominion expanded by incorporating other parts of British North America, finishing with Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.
After the Constitution was patriated in 1982, the final vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament were removed.
Canada currently consists of ten provinces and three territories and is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.
After 1497 Cabot and his son Sebastian Cabot continued to make other voyages to find the Northwest Passage, and other explorers continued to sail out of England to the New World, although the details of these voyages are not well recorded.
João Álvares Fagundes and Pêro de Barcelos established fishing outposts in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia around 1521 CE; however, these were later abandoned, with the Portuguese colonizers focusing their efforts on South America.