BC Quick Facts

Gateway to the Pacific

  • British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's 10 provinces.
  • Washington State, Idaho and Montana border B.C. to the south, Alberta to the east, the Northwest and Yukon territories to the north, and Alaska to the northwest.
  • Click here for a map of British Columbia. 

Official Symbols of British Columbia

British Columbia's Provincial Flag
Adopted in 1960, the flag duplicates the design of the shield of arms of the province. Its proportion is five by length and three by width. Please note that electronic images of the flag must never be electronically or mechanically altered.  It should never be condensed, expanded, re-arranged, or in any other way distorted electronically.  Resizing of the whole, intact image is permitted as long as horizontal and vertical scales are maintained in correct proportions.  The Provincial flag is public domain and not protected by the Provincial Symbols and Honours Act.
Legislative Assembly
The website for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia contains historical references about our province as well as informational resources. You can read the Assembly debates or view current or archived Legislative proceedings on Hansard Television. You can also access Revised Statutes or current bills, and take a virtual tour of British Columbia’s Parliament Buildings through Discover your Legislature; an award winning interactive educational CD that has been included as a link on the website. Read the Speaker’s Welcome message and meet the Members of the 40th Parliament.
Spirit Bear - Provincial Mammal
The Spirit Bear (also known as the Kermode Bear) was added to the list of B.C.’s official symbols in April 2006. The greatest concentration of Spirit Bears can be found on the Central Coast and North Coast of British Columbia. The Spirit Bear is not albino, but rather it is a black bear that has white fur due to a rare genetic trait.
Pacific Dogwood - Provincial Flower
The Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) was adopted in 1956 as British Columbia's floral emblem. This small to medium-sized deciduous tree grows six to eight metres high and flowers in April and May. In the autumn, it is conspicuous for its cluster of bright red berries and brilliant foliage.
British Columbia's Coat of Arms
The shield of the province of British Columbia was originally granted by King Edward VII in 1906; the remaining elements of the Coat of Arms were subsequently granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on October 15, 1987. The Union Jack on the shield symbolizes our colonial origins. Our geographic location between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains is represented by the wavy blue and silver bars and the setting sun. The supporters, the stag and the ram, represent the former colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. The royal crest (the crowned lion standing on the crown), wears a collar of dogwood flowers, and sits atop the golden helmet of sovereignty. Traditional heraldic elements of a wreath and mantling are in Canada's colours. Our provincial flower, the dogwood, appears a second time entwining the motto which translates as Splendour without diminishment. A person, other than the Lieutenant Governor, a member of the Executive Council, a member of the Legislative Assembly or a judge of the Supreme Court, a County Court or the Provincial Court, must not, without the permission of the minister, assume, display or use the Coat of Arms of British Columbia or a design so closely resembling it as to be likely to deceive.
Steller's Jay - Provincial Bird
The Steller's jay (Cyanacitta stelleri) became the province's official bird on December 17, 1987. Coloured a vibrant blue and black, it is found throughout the province. This lively, smart and cheeky bird was voted most popular bird by the people of British Columbia.
Jade - Provincial Gemstone
Jade became the official mineral emblem in 1968. Consisting mostly of nephrite, B.C. jade is prized by carvers of fine jewellery and sculptures at home and particularly in the Orient. It is mined in many parts of British Columbia.
Western Red Cedar - Provincial Tree
The western red cedar (Thuja plicata Donn) was adopted as the official tree of the province on February 18, 1988. Historically, the tree has played a key role in the lives of west coast aboriginal people, and continues to be a valuable resource for the province.

British Columbia's Provincial Tartan
The provincial tartan has five colours, each with its own significance: blue for the ocean; white for the dogwood; green for the forests; red for the maple leaf; and gold for the crown and sun on the shield and flag. The tartan was adopted in 1974.


Pacific Salmon – Provincial Fish
The Pacific Salmon was added to the list of B.C.'s official symbols in February 2013 as the Fish Emblem. The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations establishing a symbol to represent Pacific Salmon.
“Pacific Salmon” means the following species of the genus taxonomically known as Oncorhynchus:

(a) Oncorhynchus clarkii commonly known as cutthroat trout;
(b) Oncorhynchus gorbuscha commonly known as pink salmon;
(c) Oncorhynchus keta commonly known as chum salmon;
(d) Oncorhynchus kisutch commonly known as coho salmon;
(e) Oncorhynchus mykiss commonly known as steelhead;
(f) Oncorhynchus nerka commonly known as sockeye salmon;
(g) Oncorhynchus tshawytscha commonly known as chinook salmon.


It's Official

  • B.C. entered Canadian confederation in 1871.
  • Our provincial motto is "splendor without diminishment."
  • Our capital is Victoria on Vancouver Island.
  • The Honourable Judith Guichon was sworn-in as the 29th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia on November 2, 2012. Learn more
  • Our premier is Christy Clark, leader of the B.C. Liberal Party. She is the province's 35th premier. Click here for a list of all the premiers of British Columbia, from 1871 to today.

People of British Columbia

  • B.C.'s population was 4.62 million people as of December 2012.
  • British Columbia is home to people of many different origins, cultural traditions, languages, ethnicities, and religions.
  • B.C. is home to a diverse population of Aboriginal people, including approximately 200 First Nations, such as the Gitxsan, Haida, Nisga'a and Squamish.
  • The top 10 languages spoken are now (according to the 2011 Census): English, Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin), Punjabi, German, Tagalog, French, Korean, Spanish, and Farsi.
  • Each year, over 34,000 immigrants from around the world arrive in B.C.

One Big Province

  • B.C.'s total land and freshwater area is 95 million hectares, larger than France and Germany combined. Only 30 countries are larger. British Columbia occupies about 10 per cent of Canada's land surface.

The Great Outdoors

  • B.C. has 1,030 provincial parks and protected areas, attracting about 20 million visits every year.
  • Since 2001, the provincial government has established 84 new parks, 156 conservancies, two ecological reserves and 13 protected areas. B.C. has also expanded more than 75 parks, six ecological reserves, three protected areas and is protecting more than 2.3 million hectares (an area over four times the size of Prince Edward Island.)
  • This includes 200,000 hectares of habitat for the world-famous Spirit Bear, B.C.'s official mammal.
  • Today, 14.7 per cent (or more than 13.9 million hectares) of British Columbia is protected – more than any other province in Canada.
  • To find which provincial parks are closest to where you live, click here.
  • To reserve a campsite online, click here.
  • For more information about B.C.’s provincial parks, please visit: www.bcparks.ca.

Natural Resources

  • British Columbia is Canada's third-largest generator of hydro electricity, providing some of the lowest power costs in North America.
  • The province is Canada's second-largest natural gas producer, and the oil and gas industry continues to see tremendous growth in the northeast.

Your Government

  • The B.C. Liberals were re-elected for a fourth term in 2013.
  • B.C. residents are represented by 85 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
  • Do you know who your MLA is? Click here to find out.
  • Nationally, the 308-seat House of Commons and 104-seat Senate in Ottawa include 36 elected Members of Parliament (MPs) from B.C. and six B.C. senators appointed by the federal government.

Doing Business in British Columbia

  • Small businesses make up over 98 per cent of the province's businesses, and provide jobs for 56 per cent of all British Columbians working in the private sector.
  • In 2008 the B.C. government cut the small business tax rate from 4.5 to 2.5 per cent, the third lowest in Canada.
  • Since 2001, the B.C. government has reduced regulatory requirements by 42 percent and met its goal of net zero new regulations in 2012.
  • Our corporate income tax rates are among the lowest in the country, and combined with federal tax reductions, the general corporate income tax rate in B.C. is among the lowest of the G7 nations.
  • B.C. currently has the lowest provincial personal income taxes in Canada for individuals earning up to $122,000 a year.

Hollywood North

  • British Columbia is North America’s fourth-largest film and television production centre.
  • The film industry is now a $1.2 billion industry in B.C. and directly employs about 25,000 people. Indirect jobs generated by the industry fuel the construction, tourism, and small business sectors.
  • B.C. offers two distinct tax credit programs for the film and television industry: the Production Services Tax Credit and the Film Incentive B.C. Tax Credit. These labour-based incentives provide refundable tax credits to eligible production companies.
  • Government also offers a labour-based B.C. Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit.

Tourist Haven

  • Tourism contributed $13.4 billion to the provincial economy in 2011, up 39 per cent since 2001.
  • As set out in the Tourism sector strategy, "Gaining The Edge" the B.C. government is targeting revenue growth to $18 billion by 2016.
  • The tourism industry provides a job for roughly 1 in 15 employed British Columbians, and has been identified as a key growth sector in The BC Jobs Plan.
  • To plan a trip to British Columbia, please visit: http://www.hellobc.com/

We're Game

  • B.C. was host to the biggest sporting event in 2010 - the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler.
  • Vancouver is B.C.'s biggest city and is home to the NHL Canucks. Other pro sports teams in the city include: B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League, and a new Major League Soccer Franchise the Whitecaps.
  • Over the last eight years, B.C. has developed an international reputation for sport hosting and have attracted, among other events, the:
    • 2011 Grey Cup Championship
    • 2010 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships
    • 2009 World Police & Fire Games (Burnaby)
    • 2008 North American Indigenous Games (Cowichan)
    • 2008 World Women’s Curling Championships
    • 2007 FIFA Under 20 World Cup Soccer
    • 2006 World Junior Hockey Championships (Kamloops, Kelowna, Victoria & Vancouver)
    • 2005 Grey Cup Championship (Vancouver)
  • Click here for more information on sports in B.C.

Post-Secondary Education Tops

  • British Columbia has a number of world recognized post-secondary institutions. From the University of B.C. to University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University.
  • This school year, more than 440,000 students are expected to enrol in at least one course at British Columbia’s 25 public post-secondary institutions – taking classes at one of 130 campuses, satellite or learning centres across the province.
  • Since 2001 more than 32,000 student seats, and seven new public university campuses have been added to the public post-secondary system – 2,500 new graduate student spaces have been funded in the last five years.
  • There are currently more than 33,000 apprentices in the trades training system, more than double the number of apprentices registered in 2004. In addition, there are over 9,000 industry employers currently sponsoring apprentices throughout the province.
  • In May 2012, B.C. released its International Education Strategy to promote the two-way global flow of students, educators and ideas between countries.
  • Our high-quality education system has been very successful in attracting students from around the world – the latest figures show more than 100,000 international students in B.C.