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British Columbia - Canada's Beautiful Western Province

British Columbia is one of the most picturesque provinces that Canada has to offer. Located at the far West, it is bordered by Alberta to the East, Alaska and Yukon to the North, and the American States of Washington, Montana and Idaho to the South. The Western coast of British Columbia however meets the Pacific Ocean and gives rise to huge tourist attractions, such as whale watching and world renowned salmon fishing.

The Rocky Mountain range cuts through the province and is another source of British Columbia’s plethora of breathtaking scenery. The year-round snow capped mountains of Whistler, are a must see and must ski, located just over 100 km outside of Vancouver, the provinces largest metropolitan region.

The capital of British Columbia is not Vancouver which is a common mistake that people but it is rather Victoria. Victoria is the fifteenth largest metro area in Canada but the largest in British Columbia is Vancouver, which is the third largest metro area in the whole of Canada. According to a 2006 census, the population of BC was estimated at over 4 million. However, BC is growing at a fast pace whereby nearly 50,000 immigrants settle in British Columbia annually.

British Columbia has one of the highest concentration of bears in the world, and the highest concentration of spirit bears. British Columbia’s dense forest and pristine wilderness make it an ideal habitat for bears. As a result, the spirit bear became the provincial mammal in 2006. Contrary to popular belief, the spirit bear is not white because it is albino, rather it gets its white fur from a genetic abnormality and the spirit bear is actually a black bear.

British Columbia’s 900 plus protected regions and provincial parks allow for a great diversification of wild life from birds to bears to moose. Because of British Columbia’s beautiful wilderness, there are over 25 million visits to its provincial parks every year, which is an important source of revenue for the country. Realizing that there is great revenue to be made from the wilderness and the intrinsic obligation to protect nature, British Columbia has protected over 1.5 million hectares of land. Consequently, almost 14% of the province is within the protected area to ensure the continued survival o f its temperate rainforests and continued tourism. It was estimated that in 2005, British Columbia will receive $10 billion in tourism revenue.

British Columbia occupies almost 11% of Canada’s total area and has a surface area of almost 100 million hectares. This makes British Columbia a huge land mass with only 30 countries being larger in size. With respect to British Columbia’s natural resources, it is Canada’s third largest producer of hydro-electric power, a huge source of timber which supplies the entire world and BC is also experiencing large growth in its oil industry as patches are continually being discovered in its northern region.

The whole world’s eyes will be on Vancouver in February and March of 2010, when it will host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter games. The Olympics are expected to bring in a huge amount of revenue for the province and the BC has already begun preparing for the influx of tourists by building many hotels. The Olympics will put BC on the world stage and the beautiful province will certainly not disappoint.