- Canada’s westernmost province
- has over 27,000 km of coastline
- third largest province, occupying 10% of Canada’s land surface
- larger than Washington, Oregon and California combined
- about the size of France, Germany and the Netherlands combined
- one of few places in the world with a temperate rainforest
- Vancouver Island is the largest island off the coast of the Americas
- Mount Robson 3,954 m is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies
- provincial capital Victoria
- provincial flower Pacific Dogwood
- provincial tree Western Red Cedar
- provincial bird Stellar’s Jay
- most of the province is in the Pacific Time Zone, with the far southeastern corner in the Mountain Time Zone
British Columbia (BC) is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Yukon and Northwest Territories to the north, with the panhandle of Alaska forming about half of the western boundary. On the east is Alberta, and to the south the US states of Washington, Idaho and Montana. BC is a distinct geographical region in Canada. Where the Pacific Ocean reaches the continent, it meets a chain of islands running from north to south known as the Inside Passage which extends from the Juan de Fuca Strait at the southern end of Vancouver Island, north to Alaska. The rugged coastline includes deep, mountainous fjords and about 6,000 islands, many of them uninhabited.
Geography – Much of the western part of Vancouver Island and the rest of the coast is covered by temperate rain forest. This region is one of a mere handful of such temperate rain forest ecosystems in the world. The BC Interior changes dramatically from north to south. In the extreme northeast a small corner is an extension of the Great Plains. The Cariboo plateau is a series of high plateaus and rolling ranchland, while the southern Okanagan interior is made up of fertile valleys that produce fruits and vegetables. The far south of the province is a small section of arid desert. Sixty percent of the province is forested, about 5% is arable, and 75% is mountainous; Coastal Mountains rise 3000-4000m above sea level; the Insular Mountains form the backbones of the offshore islands; The Rocky Mountains form almost half of the province’s eastern boundary; the interior ranges are the Purcell, Selkirk,Monashee and Caribou mountains.
Climate – The mild coastal region receives from 130 to 380 cm of rain a year. Along the coast temperatures are also milder, averaging about 16°C (60°F) in July and 4°C (39°F) in January. Some parts of the Interior are nearly desert, with an annual rainfall of less than 250 millimetres. The valleys of the Columbia-Kootenay region have a dry climate, with an annual rainfall of 450 to 500 millimetres. The Okanagan area has some of the warmest and longest summer climates in Canada, although their temperature ranges are exceeded by the even-warmer Fraser Canyon, where summer shade temperatures often surpass 40°C (104 °F) but with very low humidity. Temperatures in the far northern section of the Interior System may range from below -57° C in the winter to above 38° C (100° F) in the summer. In the southern section and in the north eastern Peace River country, winter temperatures are less severe.
National Parks – British Columbia Canada has seven national parks. Kootenay and Yoho National Parks are located on the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, and border Alberta parks. Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks are located in the sub-alpine interior.
Pacific Rim National Park is situated on the western coast of Vancouver Island, while Gulf Islands Park covers the islands in the Straight of Georgia, between Vancouver Island and the mainland. The remote Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site lies within the Queen Charlotte Islands.