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Bordered by Ontario, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Hudson Bay and the United States, most of Manitoba's 650 000 km2 lies between 150 and 300 metres above sea level, except in the Turtle, Riding, Duck and Baldy mountains. Manitoba is known as the land of 100 000 lakes, a legacy of enormous Lake Agassiz, which covered much of the province after the glaciers retreated. The major rivers of western Canada flow into the lowland region of Manitoba, giving Manitoba 90 percent of the hydro-electric potential of the Prairie region. The History The name Manitoba likely comes from the Cree words "Manitou bou," which mean "the narrows of the Great Spirit.". The Assiniboine Indians were the first inhabitants of Manitoba. Other First Nations included the nomadic Cree, who followed the herds of bison and caribou. In 1670, the Hudson's Bay Company was created, and King Charles II of England granted it a large tract of land named Rupert's Land. In 1812, the first European agricultural settlement was established in the area around the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers of Rupertsland by Lord Selkirk, who called the area Assiniboia. In the late1860s, the Dominion of Canada, anxious to expand into the great northwest, offered to buy Assiniboia from the Hudson's Bay Company. Negotiations for the transfer of sovereignty followed, but with little regard to the wishes of the inhabitants. This led the Métis (people of mixed Aboriginal and European blood) under the leadership of Louis Riel, to oppose the Canadian proposals in an insurgency known as the Red River Rebellion. Riel succeeded in establishing a locally-elected, provisional government in December 1869. Delegates of this provisional government negotiated terms with the new federal government of Canada, making Manitoba a province of the Dominion of Canada on July 15, 1870. Manitoba is an important centre for a number of ethnic groups. It is one of the most important centres of Ukrainian culture outside Ukraine and has one of the largest populations of Mennonites in the world. More than 128 000 people are of Aboriginal or Métis origin. There are also many Manitobans of Icelandic origin. About 60 percent of Manitoba's nearly 1.15 million people live in metropolitan Winnipeg, the provincial capital. The second-largest city is Brandon, in southwestern Manitoba.


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