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British Columbia

British Columbia Geography

Larger than every U.S. State, with the exception of Alaska, British Columbia is dominated by major mountain ranges, including the Coast Mountains, Cassiar Mountains, Columbia Mountains and Canadian Rocky Mountains. Each of these mountain ranges have a wide variety of sub ranges too numerous to mention.

The beautiful and rugged Coast Mountains are heavily forested on their western exposures, with many snow-capped, glaciated peaks. The impressive Rockies, with a much lower tree line, are also heavily glaciated and topped with toothy-edged peaks.

The Canadian Rockies' highest point within British Columbia is Mt. Robson, as it rises to 3,954 m (12,972 ft). British Columbia's highest point, Mt. Fairweather, stands within the glaciers and ice fields of the St. Elias Mountains on the northwest border with Alaska; it rises to 4,663 m (15,299 ft.)

The Pacific Ring of Fire, a ring of volcanic in origin mountains that loop around the Pacific Ocean, contain some of British Columbia's highest mountains. One of them, dormant Mt. Waddington in the Coast Mountains, stands at 4,019 m (13,186 ft.).

Because of ancient volcanic activity, much of the British Columbia coastline (including Vancouver Island) is a jagged expanse of hundreds of islands and dozens of long, deeply indented fjord-like recesses.

Vancouver Island itself, the largest island along the Pacific coastline of North America, is dissected by a wide variety of lower mountain ranges, scattered lakes and a few glaciers within Strathcona Provincial Park.

The tree-covered Queen Charlotte Islands, a group of some 150, are frequently the subject of earthquakes. The most recent significant activity occurred in 2008.

The Fraser River, rising in the Rocky Mountains, is the longest river in the province. It drains much of the central and southern areas before flowing into the Strait of Georgia at the city of Vancouver.

Additional rivers of note include the Columbia, Kootenay, Nass, Peace, Skeena and Stikine. Williston Lake is the province's largest, while dozens of finger-like lakes are scattered across the interior mountain valleys.

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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This page was last updated on July 14, 2016.