Canada was home to the First Nations Métis, Inuits and other native peoples centuries before European explorers arrived. Around 1000 A.D., the Vikings became the first known Europeans to land in Canada, and Leif Eriksson and his followers came shortly after. The Vikings did not establish themselves in the area.
John Cabot, an Italian employed by King Henry VII of England, made a European re-discovery of Canada in 1497. Both England and France made claims to the land in successive years, with France claiming possession in 1534 during Jacques Cartier's trip down the St. Lawrence River and Britain claiming various parts at different times.
The Seven Years War took place between France and England and, in 1763, England received most of Canada through the Treaty of Paris, with France maintaining St. Pierre, Miquelon and, at a later date, Quebec. The Quebec Act gave impetus to the development of French culture and Roman Catholicism in Quebec.
Canada largely remained on the side of the British during the latter's war with the 13 U.S. colonies. Shortly after the war, the Constitutional Act of 1791 split Quebec into Lower Canada and Upper Canada, mainly along ethnic lines. Canada became its own united nation in 1867, though still a Dominion of the British Empire. Canada finally split from the authority of the British parliament through the Canada Act in 1982, though, as of 2015, the British queen is still Queen of Canada.