Welcoming more than 40,000 newcomers a year, British Columbia is Canada’s most westerly province, sandwiched between the Pacific and the Rocky mountains.
Covering an area more than four times that of Great Britain, it is one of the most iconic provinces, containing much of the beautiful scenery that is associated with Canada (around 75% of the province is mountainous).
It is also proud of the fact that it is the only place where you can ski and play golf in the same day!
Of the total population of around 4.5 million, making it the third most populated province, some two million live relatively close to the metropolitan area of Vancouver (making it the third largest in Canada after Toronto and Montreal) in the south, where the winters are more temperate. Vancouver itself has a population of nearly 800,000. Vancouver dominates the Province as the next biggest cities are Victoria, the capital (359,000) and Kelowna (188,000).
British Columbia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1778, of whom Churchill might just have said
“never, in the field of human history, has so much land been
explored and charted by just one man”
Today, like much of the rest of Canada, British Columbia is home to migrants from all over the world. In 2010, 28% reported having a non-official mother tongue, including 8.3% (Chinese) and 4.5% (Punjabi) although English is still the dominant language spoken throughout the province. It is the third most popular destination for immigrants, with nearly 35,000 settling here in 2011. Of these, nearly 10,000 were skilled workers and 3,800 were investors.
Around half of the population claim English or Scottish ancestry and nearly a quarter are of Chinese or German extraction.
The Pacific coast location significantly boosts the access to Asia’s booming markets as well as to the United States and Mexico. Around 43% of the exports go to the USA, 15% to China and around 14% to Japan.
Agrifoods are an important part of the economy, with the province producing $10.9billion worth of agricultural and seafood products in 2013, exporting $2.7 billion.
It is also one of the world’s leading Forestry products exporter as some 60% of the total land base is productive forest land. The province also has a strong mining sector and is actually Canada’s largest exporter of coal (the world’s third largest by volume).
There are also significant natural gas reserves, estimated at some 150 years of current production and with the strong growth of demand for shale LNG, production has been growing rapidly.
Over the next decade or so, there is expected to be strong demand for labour. With nearly half a million jobs and over 600,000 retirements expected, total job openings will be nearly 1.2 million.