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The Louisiana Republic, usually referred to as Louisiana, is a country in North America. Settled by the French in the 17th and 18th centuries, the country retains a strong connection to France, though it has been independent since 1908. Prior to this, Louisiana was an overseas dominion of France. Louisiana has a large minority Creole community, as well as Native Americans. The Creole population were originally imported from the Caribbean as slaves; they were freed from slavery in 1825 and have since become an important part of Louisiana's culture and heritage. Louisiana is a democratic republic, and unlike many countries in North America has remained so for most of its history. The country is one of the most prosperous and economically powerful in North America, and one of the most culturally diverse. It is a member of the United American Provinces and has a long and beneficial relationship with Quebec, as the two French-speaking countries in North America.