Where is Vancouver Island and how was it formed?

Where is Vancouver Island and how was it formed?

Vancouver Islands location in relation to the Canadian mainland

Vancouver Island is in the North-Eastern Part of the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Canada. It is part of the Canadian Provence of British Columbia and is separated from the United States by the Juan De Fuca Strait which is between 10 and 18 miles wide. Separating Vancouver Island from mainland Canada is the Strait of Georgia and Queen Charlotte Strait. The Strait of Georgia is 20 km wide at its narrowest whilst Queen Charlotte straight is 26 km wide at its narrowest.

Transfer from the mainland is possible by air and sea. There quickest air route is from Vancouver on the mainland into the YYJ international airport at Greater Victoria. The ferry services run between the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal at Vancouver to Swartz bay which is a 40 minutes drive from Victoria. Greater Victoria is the capital city of Vancouver with 344,000 inhabitants. The total population of the Island is 760,000 according to the 2011 census.

The population of Vancouver Island is a combination of the indigenous with the European settlers who came to this part of Canada in the late 18th century. The indigenous people have been on the Island for thousands of years. The Kwakwaka’wakw are made up of 17 tribes and live mainly on the North of the Island. The Nuu-chah-nulth live mainly on the west coast. On the southern side of the Island live the Coast Salish People with them being split into distinct nations. In the 18th century there was a battle for the Island between the Spanish and the British with the two coming close to war. This was kept at bay with the Nootka Convention in 1790 where both sides recognised the others’ rights to the area. As time progressed Spain’s interest in the Island waned until in 1846 the Oregon Treaty was signed between America and Great Britain making it a British settlement.

The Golden Hinde, the highest point on the island at 2195 metres

It remained in the hands of the British until 1866 when it was returned to the state of British Columbia with Canada taking full control when it gained control in 1871. The physical geographical lay out of the country is due to a combination of factors. The Vancouver Island Ranges run almost entirely along the length of the 460 kilometres separating the east coast from the west coast. The mountains were formed 55 million of years ago when the land was lifted when the Kula plate sub-ducted under the North American plate as well as volcanic activity occurring, the area was subjected to earthquake activity. In 1946 the largest every earthquake was recorded on the Forbidden Plateau in the east of the Ranges registering 7.3 on the Richter scale.

These mountains contain a number of glaciers in the centre within Strathcona Provincial Park, with the largest being the Comox Glacier. The effects of glaciation also resulted in Vancouver Island being separated from the rest of Canada. Both the Strait of Georgia and Queen Charlottes Straight are fine examples of fjords. This is where rising sea levels have drowned huge U-shaped valleys and in this case, have combined to cut off the island from the rest of the mainland. The mountains have also produced a rain shadow so that the west of the Island receives more annual rainfall than the east of the Island. The climate is generally mild and despite variations in rainfall this has led to it being a natural temperate forest biome. Along with many fast-flowing rivers these physical factors combine to make the Island a fantastic location for backpackers to explore the natural wonders that these rich ecosystems have to offer.

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