The 10 Biggest Cities In British Columbia

Vancouver skyscrapers overlooking False Creek inlet.
Vancouver skyscrapers overlooking False Creek inlet.

The province of British Columbia is located in western Canada and borders both the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains. It covers an area of 364,764 square miles, which ranks as the fifth largest province in Canada in terms of area. British Columbia is Canada’s third most populous province, with an estimated population of 4,648,055 in 2016. British Columbia contains 52 cities, the largest and smallest of which are Vancouver and Greenwood, respectively. Vancouver has a population of 631,486, while Greenwood has a population of only 708. Abbotsford is the largest city in the province by land area (375.55 square km), while Duncan is the smallest (2.07 square km).

The Five Biggest Cities in British Columbia

1. Vancouver

Vancouver is the most populous city in British Columbia, with a population of 631,486 in 2016. Vancouver is a coastal seaport city and is one of the country’s most ethnically and linguistically diverse. It is designated as a Beta global city and is considered to be among the world’s best cities in terms of quality of life. Forestry and tourism are the biggest industries in Vancouver. The city is also one of North America’s largest film production centers, and is therefore often nicknamed "Hollywood North." Additionally, given its location on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Port Metro Vancouver is the third biggest port by tonnage in North Americas.

2. Surrey

With a population of 517,887 in 2016, Surrey is the second biggest city in British Columbia. The city is situated south of the Fraser River and is part of the Metro Vancouver metropolitan area. Surrey is one of the biggest industrial centers in the province and features thriving health, education, agriculture, clean energy, and manufacturing sectors. Surrey has a fast-growing technology sector, while its health care and agriculture sectors are already well-established. Much of the food consumed in Surrey is grown locally.

3. Burnaby

Burnaby is British Columbia’s third largest city, with a population of 232,755. The city is located east of Vancouver and is part of the Metro Vancouver metropolitan area. Incorporated in 1892 and designated a city in 1992, Burnaby is home to many technology firms including Telus and Electronic Arts. Additionally, heavy industry companies like Petro-Canada and Chevron Corporation also operate in the city. Burnaby has many business parks, film production studios, and technology research institutes.

4. Richmond

With a population of 198,309, Richmond is British Columbia’s fourth largest city. Located on Lulu Island at the mouth of the Fraser River, the city is part of the Metro Vancouver metropolitan area. Approximately 100,000 jobs exist in the city, many of which are in sectors such as services, retail, light manufacturing, government, and aviation. Richmond has also emerged as a center for high-tech and communications corporations, including Norsat and Sierra Wireless.

5. Abbotsford

Abbotsford has a population of 141,397, making it the fifth largest city in British Columbia. Located near the Fraser River, Abbotsford is near but not part of the Metro Vancouver metropolitan area. The city has a very diversified economy that is focused on industries such as agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and transportation.

Capital of British Columbia

Victoria is the provincial capital of British Columbia and is located on the southern end of Vancouver Island. It had a population of 85,792 in 2016, which does not rank within the province's 10 most populous cities. However, Greater Victoria, its metropolitan area, is the 15th biggest metropolitan area in Canada, with a population of 367,770. 

The 10 Biggest Cities in British Columbia by Population

RankCityPopulation (2016)
4Richmond 198,309
6Coquitlam 139,284
8Langley Township 117,285
9Saanich 114,148
10Delta 102,238

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