The history of beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia has been traced back 10,000 years to the aboriginal tribes who first called it home. Nestled in the Pacific Ocean, just off the western coast of British Columbia, Canada, the Island was later named after the British explorer who literally put it on the map: Captain George Vancouver.
Today, the Vancouver Island is a popular tourist destination. The island's beach resorts, including Tofino, offer visitors the opportunity to go whale watching, SCUBA diving, enjoy water sports, or simply swim or sunbathe. For visitors who prefer land-bound pursuits, there is a rainforest on the western side of the island. Vancouver Island's close proximity to the North Shore Mountains also allows visitors the option to go skiing or hiking, and the quaint villages, such as Chemainus or Cowichan Bay, are perfecting for soaking up the scenery while strolling around.
Another benefit to holidaying on Vancouver Island is its proximity to the city of Vancouver. Many people mistakenly think the city is actually located on the island, but in fact, the city lies on the mainland just across from Vancouver Island. The two are separated by the Straight of Georgia. The city boasts a vast array of cultures and neighborhoods, including Little Italy, Punjabi Market, and a big Chinatown. The city has a trendy, cosmopolitan vibe with an international film festival each September, an annual Gay Pride Parade, and hundreds of chic restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. For culture vultures, the city is home to a number of museums and art galleries, including the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
The island is very large; almost 300 miles in length and up to 50 miles wide. In fact, Vancouver Island is the largest island east of New Zealand, and it is ranked number 43 in terms of the world's largest islands. Despite this, Canada still has ten other islands bigger than Vancouver Island.
Just over 700,000 residents were reported to live on the island in 2008, with almost half of those living in Greater Victoria, which is the largest city. Other major cities include Parksville, Nanaimo, and Port Alberni. Tourism plays a major part in Vancouver Island’s economy, but other important industries include logging, fishing, and technology – more than 800 IT companies are based in Victoria. Tourists may benefit from the vibrant IT industry – free WiFi is available across almost the entire island.
Tourists will also be pleased to learn that the island has the mildest temperatures in Canada. Three of its cities - Victoria, Nanaimo, and Duncan – have the warmest average winter temperatures; it rarely falls below 0°C, even in the heart of winter, although it does snow on some of the higher mountain peaks. During the summer, visitors will enjoy the dry, sunny weather, which is usually in the range of 28°C to 33°C.
From admiring the beautiful scenery, to engaging in healthy outdoor pursuits, to enjoying the sophistication of its cosmopolitan cities, Vancouver Island, British Columbia has something to offer everyone.
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