Travel Guide Canada: British Columbia
Canada's province British Columbia, located on the Pacific Coast in the western part of the country, is primarily characterised by pristine natural landscapes and abundant wildlife populations. Learn more in the following blog
British Columbia is a Canadian province located on the Pacific coast between Canada's provinces of Yukon and Alberta and the United States. Vancouver is the largest city and at the same time the largest economic centre.
First and foremost, forests dominate wide parts of British Columbia. The abundance of species that can be found here attracts countless travellers every year. Bears, elks, lynxes, wolves, pumas and an abundance of other wildlife can be seen with a bit of luck in the midst of breathtaking wilderness – the perfect destination for every nature and outdoor enthusiast.
British Columbia's pristine natural landscapes will be your home during your educational adventure in Canada.
Southwest Canada, at the Pacific Ocean
approx. 944,735 km²
Best travel time
May to end of September
British Columbia is a unique natural paradise; highlights are certainly the Rocky Mountains, the city of Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the island chain Haida Gwaii or Whistler Blackcomb
Visiting British Columbia
Location, geography and climate of British Columbia
The province of British Columbia borders the US state of Alaska to the northwest, the Canadian territories of Yukon and the Northwest Territories to the north, the province of Alberta to the east and the US states of Washington, Idaho and Montana to the south. The western border is formed by the Pacific Ocean.
British Columbia has a coastline of about 7,000 km due to its rugged coast with numerous fjords and offshore islands. With an area of 32,000 km², Vancouver Island is the largest island separated from the mainland by three straits. A total of 11,890 islands belong to British Columbia.
The province is also characterized by its numerous lakes: A total of 241,576 lakes can be found here, covering an area of about 22,500 km². However, most of them are quite small: only 16 of the lakes are larger than 100 km². The northern and southern borders of British Columbia are formed by latitudes: the 49th latitude is the border to the USA, the 60th the border to Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
Different mountain ranges run through a large part of British Columbia. Thus in the eastern half of the province there are four parallel mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains; to the west the central highlands and the Coast Mountains on the Pacific coast. The Saint Elias Range with Mount Fairweather – with 4663 m the highest mountain of the province – lies in the extreme northwest.
The northern part of British Columbia's mainland is influenced by the Arctic climate, so the winters there are cold and snowy. The southern areas and Vancouver Island, on the other hand, have a warm temperate climate, with the west coast very rainy. The inland, which lies in the lee of high mountain ranges, often becomes very hot and dry in summer. There are even desert-like areas in the southern central highlands. There is little rainfall and in summer it can get up to 40°C hot.
Flora and fauna in British Columbia
British Columbia stands for pure nature. Forests are particularly dominant in British Columbia, as only a fraction of the area – in the south and along the rivers – is suitable for agricultural use. On the west coast of Vancouver Island and the coastal region of the mainland there are temperate rainforests. The northern hinterland, on the other hand, is home to various spruces, firs and larches.
In the north and in parts of the Rocky Mountains, the Caribou lives in large herds, whose populations are declining. It is also home to moose, snow goats, bison, wapitis and various predators such as wolves, grizzly bears, pumas, coyotes, lynxes and orcas. Also many rodents like squirrels and beavers as well as over 300 bird species are to be found in British Columbia.
Highlights in British Columbia
By far the largest city in the province, it is one of the most spectacular and attractive cities in the world and always worth a visit. In addition to many opportunities for outdoor activities, Vancouver also offers its visitors all the advantages of a cosmopolitan city. Whether climbing, hiking or whale watching or rather a leisurely day in the numerous museums and gardens of the city is entirely up to you. Also worth seeing are the landmarks in memory of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which took place in Vancouver in 2010.
Haida Gwaii is a group of islands off the coast of British Columbia and is characterized by the ancient culture of the Indian tribe – called First Nations – Haida. The impressive rainforests are home to rare animal and plant species that can only be found on these islands, such as the American black bear. Three parks are maintained here, e.g. the Gwaii Haanas National Park, which has an impressive landscape and extraordinary cultural treasures, or the Naikoon Provincial Park with its 100 km long beach.
Whistler Blackcomb is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. North America's largest ski resort was one of the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The two mountains that are open for winter sports are Whistler Mountain with 2182 m and Blackcomb Peak with 2440 m altitude. One of the highlights is certainly the impressive PEAK 2 PEAK gondola, which connects the two mountain peaks. But even those who can't do much with winter sports will get their money's worth: hikers, mountain bikers, golfers and café lovers can enjoy themselves in the car-free village centre in summer.
Canadian Rocky Mountains
The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks on the border of British Columbia and Alberta have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. There is plenty to discover in this stunning landscape: snow-capped peaks, lonely mountain lakes and thundering waterfalls in Yoho National Park, Mount Robson, the highest mountain in the Rocky Mountains at 3,954 m, and lots of wild animals along the highways.