British Columbia is Canada's westernmost province and one of North
America's most mountainous regions. B.C. is bordered by the province of
Alberta, the Yukon Territory and several U.S. states, including Alaska.
Given its location, British Columbia is a gateway to the Pacific and
Asia. Sometimes simply categorized as part of Canada's "West," the
province is actually a distinct region both geographically and
The variety of its landscape is the main reason for B.C.'s
distinctiveness: its 947 800 km2 offer remarkable topographical
contrasts. Where the Pacific Ocean reaches the continent, it meets a
chain of islands, large and small, running from north to south. Some of
these islands are nestled in fiords carved in the majestic Coastal
Mountains, which rise more than 2000 m above sea level.
To the east of the Coastal Mountains lies a rolling upland of forests,
natural grasslands and lakes. Farther east, the Rocky Mountains (with
peaks more than 4000 m high) separate B.C. from neighbouring Alberta. In
the north, a small corner of the province is occupied by the Great
The province's climate equals its topography for variety. For example,
the mild coastal region receives abundant precipitation - from 130 to 380
cm of rain a year - while the interior has a continental climate. Other
parts of the province are almost desert-like, with very hot summers
followed by very cold winters.
Pop. 3 282 061 (12.0%).