British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada. It fronts on the Pacific Ocean and shares land boundaries with the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories. Alberta, and the states of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. British Columbia is mainly a wilderness of great natural beauty. Although the first Europeans came to the region some 150 years ago, only a small part of the province has been developed or settled. Snowcapped mountain ranges, high rugged plateaus, vast forests, and deep, narrow river valleys create some of the most spectacular scenery in North America. The land also yields abundant natural resources, which form the basis of a prosperous and rapidly expanding economy.

British Columbia'sBritish Columbia's provincial bird is the Steller's jay.
British Columbia in brief
General information
Entered the Dominion: July 20, 1871, the 6th province.
Provincial abbreviation: BC (postal).
Provincial capital: Victoria, the capital of British Columbia since it became a province in 1871.
Provincial motto: Splendor Sine Occasu (Splendor Without Diminishment).
Symbols of British Columbia
Provincial flag and coat of arms: The provincial flag, adopted in 1960, has the same basic design as the shield in the coat of arms. The coat of arms was first adopted in 1906 and was revised in 1987. Its royal lion, crown, and Union Jack all symbolize the province’s link with the United Kingdom. The wavy blue bars and setting sun reflect the province’s western location near the Pacific Ocean. The deer and sheep represent Vancouver Island and British Columbia as former British colonies.
Floral emblem: Pacific dogwood.
Land and climate
Area: 365,900 mi2 (947,800 km2), including 6,980 mi2 (18,070 km2) of inland water.
Elevation: Highest—Mount Fairweather, 15,300 ft.
(4,663 m) above sea level. Lowest—sea level along the Pacific coast.
Coastline: 15,985 mi (25,725 km).
Record high temperature: 112 °F (44 °C) at Lytton, Lillooet, and Chinook Cove on July 16 and 17, 1941.
Record low temperature: –74 °F (–59 °C) at Smith River on Jan. 31, 1947.
Average July temperature: 61 °F (16 °C).
Average January temperature: 18 °F (–8 °C).
Average yearly precipitation: 33 in (84 cm).
People
Population: 4,113,487 (2006 census).
Rank among the provinces: 3rd.
Density: 11 per mi2 (4 per km2), provinces average 13 per mi2 (5 per km2).
Distribution: 85 percent urban, 15 percent rural.
Largest cities and towns: Vancouver (578,041); Surrey (394,976); Burnaby (202,799); Richmond (174,461); Abbotsford (123,864); Coquitlam (114,565).
Economy
Chief products
Agriculture: nursery products, dairy products, beef cattle, chickens, fruits and vegetables.
Fishing industry: salmon.
Forestry: fir, pine, spruce, hemlock.
Manufacturing: wood products, paper products, processed foods and beverages.
Mining: natural gas, coal, copper.
Government
Provincial government
Premier: term of four years.
Members of the Legislative Assembly: 79; terms of four years.
Federal government
Members of the House of Commons: 36.
Members of the Senate: 6.
Sources of information
For information on tourism in British Columbia, write to: Tourism BC, Box 9830, Station Provincial Government, Suite 300 - 1803 Douglas Street, Victoria, BC V8W 9W5. Tourism BC's Web site at http://www.hellobc.com also provides tourist information. The British Columbia government's Web site at www.gov.bc.ca/bvprd/bc/home.do is also a useful resource.