Island (pop., 2001: 705,000) off southwestern British Columbia, Canada. It is the largest island (12,079 sq mi [31,285 sq km]) on the Pacific coast of North America. It has several peaks of more than 7,000 ft (2,100 m), as well as several fine harbours. The chief city is Victoria. It was inhabited by coastal Indians for several millennia before it was visited by early Spanish and English explorers, including Capt. James Cook in 1778. It was surveyed in 1792 by George Vancouver and was held by the Hudson's Bay Co. until it was made a British crown colony in 1849. It united with British Columbia in 1866. The island's main industries include lumbering, fishing, agriculture, and tourism.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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