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British Columbia
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British Columbia

British Columbia
(In Detail) (In Detail)
Motto: Splendor Sine Occasu (Splendour without diminishment)
CapitalVictoria
Largest cityVancouver
Area

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

944 735 km²
2.1%
Population
 - Total (2001)
 - Density
Ranked 3rd
4 095 900
4.34/km²
Admittance into Confederation
 - Date
 - Order
Colony of B.C.
joined Confed.

1871
7
Time zoneUTC -8 & -7
Postal information
Postal abbreviation
Postal code prefix
 
BC
V
ISO 3166-2CA-BC
Parliamentary
representation

 Seats in the House
 Seats in the Senate
 

34
6
PremierGordon Campbell (BC Liberal)
Lieutenant-GovernorIona 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 2001, the population was 3,907,738 (British Columbians).

Table of contents
1 Geography
2 Politics
3 History
4 See also

Geography

Its capital is Victoria, at the south-east of Vancouver Island. Its most populous city is Vancouver, which is in the south-west 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 Inland 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 (others being on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state and in Chile..

Parks

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.

Politics

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. For many years the right-wing alternative was the Social Credit Party, but in the early 1990s the party collapsed due to scandal.

See also:

History

''Main article:
History of British Columbia

British Columbia started as two British colonies, New Caledonia (created in 1846) and Vancouver's Island (created in 1849). New Caledonia was renamed British Columbia in 1858. After the sparsely populated Caledonia almost went bankrupt from building roads in the interior of the provinces, the two colonies agreed to merge and share the debt. The merger was effected in 1866, agreeing upon the name British Columbia for the newly created political region.

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. 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. The colonial authorities feared the gold rush might spread beyond B.C.'s northern border (54°40′ north), so the Stickeen 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.

Several factors played in the decision of British Columbia to join the Dominion of Canada in 1871. These were the fear of annexation to the United States, the overwhelming debt created by rapid population growth and the need for government-funded services to support this population, and the slight 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 (British Columbia itself is today served by CN and Canadian Pacific, Canada's largest railroads). 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 shrank considerably after the Alaska Boundary Dispute awarded 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-war 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


Provinces and territories of Canada
Provinces: British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario | Quebec | New Brunswick | Prince Edward Island | Nova Scotia | Newfoundland and Labrador
Territories: Yukon | Northwest Territories | Nunavut

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