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British Columbia (BC) is Canada's westernmost province. BC is bordered by on the west by the Pacific Ocean; on the north by Alaska, Yukon, and Northwest Territories; on the east by Alberta; and on the south by Washington, Idaho, and Montana. It covers a land area of 947,796 square kilometers (365,946 square miles), making it the 3rd largest province, and roughly about four times the size of the United Kingdom, or about the size of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana combined. BC is a very mountainous region, including both the Rocky Mountains and Coastal Mountain ranges. BC has a population of about 3.7 million (1996 census), with the largest cities being Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Richmond, Abbotsford, and Victoria (the provincial capital). BC enjoys a rich cultural heritage, from its First Nations and English roots, and its many immigrants, with the largest number from the United Kingdom, China, India, Germany, and the Netherlands. Principal industries include fisheries, forestry, tourism, and agriculture. Aboriginal peoples developed a rich culture in what is now BC. In the eighteenth century, Spain and Russia had competing claims to what is now BC's Pacific coast. The first permanent colony (present day Victoria) was established by Britain in 1843. In 1871, the promise of a trans-Canada railway prompted British Columbia to become the sixth province to join Canada.


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