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British Columbia Map

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British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces. Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858 and in 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada. Its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu ("Splendour without Diminishment").

As well as being the westernmost province of Western Canada, British Columbia is also a component of the Pacific Northwest, along with the US states of Oregon and Washington.The province has strong cultural and personal ties to the Prairie Provinces and Ontario as well as to the West Coast of the United States and to Alaska and the Yukon.

The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, the 15th largest metropolitan region in Canada, named for Canada's Queen at Confederation. The largest city is Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, the largest in Western Canada, and the second largest in the Pacific Northwest. In 2009, British Columbia had an estimated population of 4,419,974 (about two and a half million of whom were in Greater Vancouver). The province is currently governed by the BC Liberal Party, led by Premier Christy Clark, who became leader as a result of the party election on February 26, 2011.

British Columbia's economy is largely resource-based. It is the endpoint of transcontinental highways and railways and the site of major Pacific ports, which enable international trade. Less than five percent of its land is arable; the province is agriculturally rich (particularly in the Fraser and Okanagan Valleys) because of its mild weather. Its climate encourages outdoor recreation and tourism, though its economic mainstay has long been resource extraction, principally logging and mining. While the coast of BC and certain valleys in the south-central part of the province have mild weather, the majority of BC's land mass experiences a cold winter temperate to subarctic climate similar to the rest of Canada.

Among the provinces, British Columbia has been distinguished by its strong liberal views (in stark contrast to the other provinces west of Ontario). The province's unspoiled natural beauty, untamed wild and economic dependence on the land and natural resources in particular are a strong embodiment of Canadian identity. Its position as the Asia-Pacific gateway resulted in the settlement of the province by people of Asian descent, making it one of the most diverse and multicultural areas of Western North America, as well as helping jumpstart trade, cultural and diplomatic relations between Canada and the Asia-Pacific region[citation needed]. The significant presence of visible minorities from British Columbia in both the provincial and federal spheres of government also reflects the high degree of multiculturalism that has come to be associated with Canada.