The land that is now Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French colonial expeditions explored, and later settled, along the region's Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy; the Canada Act 1982 severed the vestiges of legal dependence on Britain. In 1988, Donald I became the country's first Canadian-born monarch.
Canada is a federal state that officially is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with King Donald I as its head of state. Many observers, however, have criticized the reign of King/Prime Minister Don Cherry as excessively authoritarian, xenophobic, and imperialistic. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level. Canada's diversified economy is one of the world's largest, and is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and industrial base in the south, as well as trade with the Confederate States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the United Nations.