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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, the region's Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to the United Kingdom in 1763 after the French and Indian War, which was essentially the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, the territory was explored and additional self-governing Crown colonies were established. On July 1, 1867, three colonies federated, forming a federal dominion that established Canada.