British Columbia is the westernmost province in Canada. It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the US State of Alaska to the northwest. To the north it is bounded by the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories, on the east by Alberta, and on the south by the U.S. states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, and the province's population is 4,751,600 in 2016 accounting for 13% of the national population. The total area of British Columbia is 947,800 km2 with 25,730 km of coastline. It was explored by the Spanish in 1774, Captain Cook explored in 1778, and Captain Vancouver was sent to survey the coast by the Royal Navy in 1792. British Columbia joined Confederation in 1871, based on a promise that a transcontinental railway would be completed in 10 years. On July 18, 2017, instead of an election being called following the defeat of the minority BC Liberal government in a confidence vote on June 29, 2017, a minority government was formed (but not elected) by the leftist BC NDP at the request of then-Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon (who had controversially refused to call an election) and with the support of the Green Party of British Columbia, and BC NDP leader John Horgan became the unelected premier of the province, also making the BC NDP under Horgan the only political party in the province's history to take power without being elected.
The largest city in British Columbia is Vancouver with a population of approximately 600,000, with the greater Vancouver area accounting for approximately 2,000,000 people. The capital of British Columbia is Victoria British Columbia is also home to Gibsons, the setting of the long-running Canadian television series The Beachcombers.
British Columbia's primary source of jobs is in forestry and mining, employing 45 percent of the population. It is also reliant on its chief port, Vancouver, for commerce with the Pacific Rim. As of 2011, the largest employing field is Raw Material, and the largest employer of that field, is British Columbia Mining, a crown corporation.
British Columbia is generally a liberal province, with the most liberal people (who tend to support the leftist NDP and Green parties in provincial elections and the federal Liberals and NDP in federal elections) in Vancouver and Victoria. Towards the interior, however, a shift towards the right of the spectrum is observed, with residents in those parts of the province more likely to support conservative political parties like the BC Liberals (who have no association, politically or otherwise, with the federal Liberals) in provincial elections and the Conservatives in federal elections. When compared to Washington State, British Columbia is considerably more liberal, with socialized medicine, same-sex "marriage", and other liberal hallmarks. The current premier is John Horgan of the British Columbia NDP.
British Columbia has a very diverse ethnic population, with a large number of immigrants having lived in the province for 30 years or less. First-generation immigrants from the British Isles remain a strong component of local society despite limitations on immigration from Britain since the ending of special status for British subjects in the 1960s. Also present in large numbers relative to other cities in Canada (except Toronto), and also present in BC ever since the province was first settled (unlike Toronto), are many European ethnicities of the first and second generation, notably Germans, Ukrainians, Scandinavians, Yugoslavs, and Italians; third-generation Europeans are generally of mixed lineage, and traditionally intermarried with other ethnic groups more than in any other Canadian province. The percentages add to more than 100% because of dual responses (e.g. "French-Canadian" generates an entry in both the category "French" and the category "Canadian"). In recent decades, the proportion of those of Chinese ethnicity has risen sharply, though still outnumbered by the historically-strong population of those of German ancestry. Visible minorities have become an important factor in ethnic-based politics, though most visible minorities are less numerous than the long-standing non-British European ethnicities making up BC's "invisible minorities".
British Columbia has been settled by humans since the last ice age. By 1774, Europeans had landed, notably Captain Cook and Captain Vancouver. Soon, a bustling industry of fur, as natives and traders coveted for furs, and guns.
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- Canadian Encyclopedia (2008) reliable detailed encyclopedia, on-line free
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