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British Columbia

British Columbia
(In Detail) (In Detail)
Motto: Splendor Sine Occasu (Splendour without diminishment)
Capital Victoria
Largest city Vancouver

 - Total
 - % fresh water
5th largest
(3rd lgst prov.)

944 735 km²

 - Total (2004)
 - Density

Ranked 3rd

4 168 123

Admittance into Confederation

 - Date
 - Order

Colony of B.C.
joined Confed.


Time zone UTC -8 & -7
Postal information

Postal abbreviation
Postal code prefix

ISO 3166-2 CA-BC


 Seats in the House
 Seats in the Senate



Premier Gordon Campbell (BC Liberal)
Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo
Government of British Columbia

British Columbia, or simply B.C. (French: la Colombie-Britannique) is the westernmost of Canada's provinces. It was the sixth province to join the confederation of Canada (in 1871). As of 2004, the population was 4,168,123 (British Columbians).



Its capital is Victoria, at the southeast of Vancouver Island. Its most populous city is Vancouver, which is in the southwest corner of the mainland of Canada (the city is not on Vancouver Island). Other major cities include Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, New Westminster in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and Kelowna and Kamloops in the "Interior." Prince George is in the north of the province.

British Columbia is on the extreme west of Canada, on the Pacific coast. It is bound on the northwest by the U.S. state of Alaska, directly north by Yukon and the Northwest Territories, on the east by Alberta, and on the south by the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The southern border of British Columbia was established by the 1846 Oregon Treaty.

The Canadian Rockies and the Inside Passage's fjords provide some of British Columbia's renowned and spectacular scenery, which forms the backdrop and context for a growing outdoor adventure and ecotourism industry. The Okanagan region is one of the premier wine-growing regions in Canada. The small rural towns of Penticton, Oliver , and Osoyoos have some of the warmest summer climates in Canada and provide hospitality to visitors from around the world.

Much of Vancouver Island is covered by a temperate rain forest, one of a mere handful of such ecosystems in the world (notable others being on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state and in Chile.


British Columbia contains seven of Canada's national parks:

BC also contains a large network of provincial parks, run by BC Parks of the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection.


BC has a 79-member elected legislature.

British Columbia has been traditionally very divided between right and left, with little middle ground. Currently it is governed by the more conservative Liberal Party of British Columbia under Gordon Campbell. However, for a decade before, it was led by the left-wing NDP. Before that, the government was led by the right-wing Social Credit Party for many years, but in the early 1990s the party collapsed due to scandal.

See also:


Main article: History of British Columbia

From 1818 to 1846, British Columbia south of 5440′ and west of the Rocky Mountains was part of the Oregon Country. The land was under the control of the Hudson's Bay Company, and was divided into the departments of Columbia (south of the Columbia River) and New Caledonia (north of the river).

In 1846, the Oregon Treaty divided the territory along the 49th parallel to Georgia Strait, with the area north of this boundary (and all of Vancouver Island) becoming exclusively British territory. Vancouver Island became a Crown colony in 1849

In 1858, in response to the Fraser Canyon gold rush, the mainland portion of the former Oregon Country was organized into the colony of British Columbia. The Cariboo region ("Central Interior") of British Columbia experienced a gold rush in the years 1862 to 1865. This created a rapid influx of miners and settlers, about 30,000 in all. The colonial authorities feared the gold rush might spread beyond B.C.'s northern border (5440′ north), so the Stikine Territory was created in 1862. However, the following year this new territory was disestablished, most of its area going to B.C., whose northern limit was increased to its current location, 60 north.

This period in the province's history is acknowledged today in the Gold Rush Trail: historic and other sites along the route from Lillooet to Barkerville and beyond. Some of the towns along this route are numbered according to their distance from the end of the navigable part of the Fraser River at Lillooet. Best known of these is the town of 100 Mile House which, along with the residential hub of 108 Mile Ranch, forms a substantial trading, tourism, and population centre for this region.

After the mainland's gold rushes collapsed and the colony almost went bankrupt from building roads in its interior, the two colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia agreed to merge and share the debt. The merger was effected in 1866, with the name British Columbia being applied to the newly united colony.

Several factors played in the decision of British Columbia to join the Dominion of Canada in 1871. These included fear of annexation to the United States, the overwhelming debt created by rapid population growth, the need for government-funded services to support this population, and the economic depression caused by the end of the gold rush.

The decision to join Canada was made largely because the Canadian government offered to link British Columbia to the more settled parts of Canada via the Canadian Pacific Railway and offered to pay off the $1,000,000 British Columbian debt. On July 20, 1871, British Columbia became a member of the Dominion of Canada.

The completion of the CPR was a huge boost to Vancouver, the line's terminus, and it rapidly grew to become one of Canada's largest cities. The province became a centre of fishing, mining, and especially of logging throughout the twentieth century.

In 1907, British Columbia's territory shrank somewhat after the Alaska Boundary Dispute awarded part of northwestern B.C. to the Americans.

B.C. has long taken advantage of its Pacific coast to have close relations with East Asia. This has also caused friction however with frequent feelings of animosity towards Asian immigrants. This was most manifest during the Second World War when many people of Japanese descent were interned in the interior of the province.

The post-World War II years saw Vancouver and Victoria also become cultural centres as poets and artists flocked to the beautiful scenery and warmer temperatures. Tourism also began to play an important role in the economy. The rise of Japan and other Pacific economies was a great boost to the B.C. economy.

(public domain Mercator map)

See also

Regional Districts of British Columbia

Alberni-Clayoquot | Bulkley-Nechako | Capital | Cariboo | Central Coast | Central Kootenay | Central Okanagan | Columbia-Shuswap | Comox-Strathcona | Cowichan Valley | East Kootenay | Fraser Valley | Fraser-Fort George | Greater Vancouver | Kitimat-Stikine | Kootenay Boundary | Mount Waddington | Nanaimo | North Okanagan | Northern Rockies | Okanagan-Similkameen | Peace River | Powell River | Skeena-Queen Charlotte | Squamish-Lillooet | Stikine | Sunshine Coast | Thompson-Nicola

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45