British Columbia

Splendour without diminishment

Where is it?





Western Canada.
total: 944,735 sq km (364,764 sq mi)
land: 925,186 sq km (357,216 sq mi)
water: 19,549 sq km (7,548 sq mi)
coastline: 25,725 km (15,988 mi)
Bordering Provinces:
Northwest Territories, Yukon Territories, Alberta
Elevation extremes:
highest point: Mount Fairweather 4,663m (15,299 ft)
British Columbia is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west side, by the American state of Alaska to the northwest and parts of the west, on the north by Yukon and the Northwest Territories, on the east by the province of Alberta, and on the south by the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The current southern border of British Columbia was established by the 1846 Oregon Treaty, although its history is tied with lands as far south as California. British Columbia's land area is 944,735 square kilometres (364,800 sq mi). British Columbia's rugged coastline stretches for more than 27,000 kilometres (17,000 mi), and includes deep, mountainous fjords and about 6,000 islands, most of which are uninhabited. British Columbia's capital is Victoria, located at the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island. Only a narrow strip of the Island, from Comox to Victoria, is significantly populated. Much of the western part of Vancouver Island and the rest of the coast is covered by thick, tall and sometimes impenetrable temperate rainforest. The province's most populous city is Vancouver, which is located at the confluence of the Fraser River and Georgia Strait, in the southwest corner of the mainland (an area often called the Lower Mainland). By land area, Abbotsford is the largest city. Vanderhoof is near the geographic centre of the province




4,400,057 (2011)
Largest City:
Vancouver: 603,502 (2011)




The arrival of Paleoindians from Beringia took place between 20,000 to 12,000 years ago. Hunter gatherer families were the main social structure from 10,000 to 5,000 years ago. The nomadic population lived in non-permanent structures foraging for nuts, berries and edible roots while hunting and trapping larger and small game for food and furs. Around 5,000 years ago individual groups started to focus on resources available to them locally. Thus with the passage of time there is a pattern of increasing regional generalization with a more sedentary lifestyle. Theses indigenous populations evolved over the next 5,000 years across a large area, into many different groups with shared traditions and customs. To the northwest of the province are the peoples of the Na-Dene languages, which include the Athapaskan-speaking peoples and the Tlingit, who lived on the islands of southern Alaska and northern British Columbia. The Na-Dene language group is believed to be linked to the Yeniseian languages of Siberia. The Dene of the western Arctic may represent a distinct wave of migration from Asia to North America. The Interior of British Columbia was home to the Salishan language groups such as the Shuswap (Secwepemc), Okanagan and Athabaskan language groups, primarily the Dakelh (Carrier) and the Tsilhqot'in. The inlets and valleys of the British Columbia Coast sheltered large, distinctive populations, such as the Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth, sustained by the region's abundant salmon and shellfish. These peoples developed complex cultures dependent on the western red cedar that included wooden houses, seagoing whaling and war canoes and elaborately carved potlatch items and totem poles. Contact with Europeans brought a series of devastating epidemics of diseases from Europe that the people had no immunity to. The result was a dramatic population collapse, culminating in the 1862 Smallpox outbreak in Victoria that spread throughout the coast. European settlement did not bode well for the remaining native population of British Columbia. Colonial officials deemed that colonists could make better use of the land than the first nations people, and thus the land territory be owned by the colonists. To ensure colonists would be able to settle properly and make use of the land, natives were relocated onto reserves, which were often too small to support their way of life. By the 1930s, over 1500 reserves were located within British Columbia.




July 20, 1871
State Tree:
Western Red Cedar
State Bird:
Steller's jay
State Flower:
Pacific dogwood
The Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, Judith Guichon, is the Queen of Canada's representative in the Province of British Columbia. During the absence of the Lieutenant-Governor, the Governor General in Council may appoint an administrator to execute the duties of the office. In practice, this is usually the Chief Justice of British Columbia. British Columbia has an 85-member elected Legislative Assembly, elected by the plurality voting system, though in recent years there has been significant debate about switching to a single transferable vote system.




British Columbia has a history of being a resource dominated economy, centred on the forestry industry but also with fluctuating importance in mining. Employment in the resource sector has fallen steadily as a percentage of employment, and new jobs are mostly in the construction and retail/service sectors. It now has the highest percentage of service industry jobs in the west, comprising 72% of industry (compared to 60% Western Canadian average). The largest section of this employment is in Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Corporate Management. Many areas outside of metropolitan areas, however, are still heavily reliant on resource extraction. With its film industry known as Hollywood North, the Vancouver region is the third-largest feature film production location in North America, after Los Angeles and New York City.