British Columbia , also commonly referred to by its initials BC (, C.-B.), is a province located on the west coast of Canada. British Columbia is also a component of the Pacific Northwest, along with the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington. The province’s name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858, reflecting its origins as the British remainder of the Columbia District of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada. Its Latin motto is Splendor sine occasu (“Splendour without Diminishment”). The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, the fifteenth-largest metropolitan region in Canada, named for the Queen who created the Colony of British Columbia. 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 October 2013, British Columbia had an estimated population of 4,606,371 (about 2.5 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 a leadership convention vote on February 26, 2011, and who led her party to an election victory on May 14, 2013. British Columbia evolved from British Colonies that were established in what is now BC by 1871. First Nations, the original inhabitants of the land had a history of at least 10,000 years in the area. The policy of ignoring First Nations rights and taking over without any kind of treaty or arrangement has been consistently raised by First Nations. Today there are few treaties and the question of Aboriginal Title, long ignored, has become an important legal and political question as a result of recent court actions. Notably, the Tsilhqot’in Nation has established Aboriginal title to a portion of their territory as a result of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision (Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia). British Columbia’s economy is largely resource-based. It is the endpoint of transcontinental railways and the site of major Pacific ports that enable international trade. Though less than 5% of its vast land is arable, the province is agriculturally rich (particularly in the Fraser and Okanagan valleys) because of milder weather near the coast and in certain sheltered southern valleys. Its climate encourages outdoor recreation and tourism, though its economic mainstay has long been resource extraction, principally logging, farming, and mining. Vancouver, the province’s largest city and metropolitan area, also serves as the headquarters of many of the western-based natural resource companies. It also benefits from a strong housing market and a per capita income well above the national average. While the coast of B.C. and certain valleys in the south-central part of the province have mild weather, the majority of B.C.’s land mass experiences a cold-winter-temperate climate similar to that of the rest of Canada. The Northern Interior region has a subarctic climate with very cold winters.
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