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The interior of the island has many lakes Kennedy Lake , north of Ucluelet , is the largest and rivers.

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There are a number of rivers draining the island, some of which though short are large in volume. Vancouver Island's major population centre and only metropolitan area is Greater Victoria. There are also six census agglomeration areas as defined by Statistics Canada , including Nanaimo which has a population over , and as of is eligible to become a CMA. These metropolitan and agglomeration areas' populations in were as follows:. However, the rain shadow effect of the island's mountains, as well as the mountains of Washington 's Olympic Peninsula , creates wide variation in precipitation.

The west coast is considerably wetter than the east coast.

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Average annual precipitation ranges from 6, millimetres Precipitation is heaviest in the autumn and winter. Snow is rare at low altitudes but is common on the island's mountaintops in winter. Only in the extreme north of the island near Port Hardy is the rainfall of the driest summer month as much as one fifth that of the wettest months from November to March. West coasts of other continents at similar latitudes have a practically even distribution of rainfall through the year.

Vancouver Island is mostly made up of volcanic and sedimentary rock which was formed offshore on the now disappeared Kula oceanic plate. Around 55 million years ago, a microplate of the Kula Plate subducted below the North American continental margin with great strain. A volcanic arc on the surface of the Kula Plate was thus accreted and fused onto the western edge of North America.

These terranes were subjected to extreme warping from continued subduction of the Kula plate, leading to the formation of the distorted Insular Mountains. Much of the central mountainous region around Strathcona Park is part of the Karmutsen Formation , which is a sequence of tholeiitic pillow basalts and breccias. Since Vancouver Island has become an accretionary wedge on the North American continent, the Kula Plate has fully subducted beneath it and the remnants of the Farallon Plate , the Juan de Fuca Plate , are now subducting below the island.

This process has led to Vancouver Island being one of the most seismically active regions in Canada. The subduction zone off the coast of the island forms a section of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

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The area has been known to host megathrust earthquakes in the past, the last occurring in In , the Forbidden Plateau in the east of the Vancouver Island Ranges was the epicentre of an earthquake that registered 7. Vancouver Island was the location of the observation of the episodic tremor and slip seismic phenomenon.

Vancouver Island lies in the temperate rainforest biome. On the southern and eastern portions of the island, this is characterized by Douglas fir , western red cedar , arbutus or madrone , Garry oak , salal , Oregon grape , and manzanita ; moreover, Vancouver Island is the location where the Douglas fir was first recorded by Archibald Menzies. This southeastern portion of the island is the most heavily populated region of Vancouver Island and a major area for recreation.

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The northern, western, and most of the central portions of the island are home to the coniferous "big trees" associated with British Columbia's coast — western hemlock , western red cedar , Pacific silver fir , yellow cedar , Douglas fir , grand fir , Sitka spruce , and western white pine. It is also characterised by bigleaf maple , red alder , sword fern , and red huckleberry.

The fauna of Vancouver Island is similar to that found on the mainland coast, with some notable exceptions and additions.

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For example, mountain goats , moose , porcupines , chipmunks , and numerous species of small mammals, while plentiful on the mainland, are absent from Vancouver Island. Grizzly bears are absent from the island, where black bears are prevalent, but in a pair of grizzlies were sighted swimming between smaller islands off the coast near Port McNeill. The island's rivers, lakes, and coastal regions are renowned for their fisheries of trout , salmon , and Steelhead.

It has the most concentrated population of cougars in North America. Wolves are also present on this island.

After near-total extirpation by fur traders in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, sea otters Enhydra lutris were protected by international treaty in Despite protection, the remnant population off Vancouver Island died out with the last sea otter taken near Kyuquot in From to , 89 sea otters were flown or shipped from Alaska to the west coast of Vancouver Island. This population expanded to over 3, as of [update] , and their range on the island's west coast expanded from Cape Scott in the north to Barkley Sound to the south. Within the island's largest city, Victoria , there is a significant IT and technology industry.

High Speed Internet is delivered to the island by Shaw Communications , Telus , and various local providers with their own networks. Wireless Internet connections can be found all over the island, many free for public use. While the island does generate much of its own power at several hydroelectric stations, increased demand required the construction of several high-voltage power cables, both HVDC and AC, connecting to the Canadian Mainland.

See power lines connecting Vancouver Island with Canadian Mainland. Outside of Victoria, Vancouver Island's economy is largely dominated by the forestry industry. Many of the logging operations are for export, although, historically, were for sawn lumber and pulp and paper operations. Recently, rotations are much shorter than the historical 80 years. Logging operations involving old-growth forests such as those found in Clayoquot Sound are controversial and have gained international attention through the efforts of activists and environmental organizations.

Another source of controversy all over the island are logging operations occurring in community watersheds. Fishing plays a large role in the lives of many islanders. Commercial fishing vessels operate out of the island's ports and harbours, and coastal fish farms produce many tons of Atlantic salmon yearly. In recent years the government of British Columbia has engaged in an advertising program to draw more tourists to beach resorts in places such as Tofino and Ucluelet.

Sport fishing, whale-watching , hiking, SCUBA diving , surfing, and skiing are just a few things for which tourists visit Vancouver Island. Visitors also come to see Victoria's nineteenth-century architecture, and the many villages which line the coast such Cowichan Bay , Chemainus , and Qualicum Beach. Consumer food products companies also exist in the various cities and towns on Vancouver Island.

Bakeries, dairies, food processing plants, breweries, wineries, of varying size and scope are found all along the island. Some of these organizations have international customer reach. Vancouver Island is home to a handful of universities, several colleges and trade-schools, hundreds of public schools, and a few dozen private schools including Montessori and Waldorf schools.


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There are 11 school districts on Vancouver Island with several elementary, junior high, and high schools in each. Three school districts are in the Greater Victoria area and the other eight cover the rest of the island to the north.

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