Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia and Western Canada’s oldest city. The city itself encompasses an area of just under 20 square kilometers, with a population of about 77,400, according to 2005 estimates.
Greater Victoria, with a population of approximately 330,000, comprises the City of Victoria, as well as the surrounding municipalities and townships: Saanich, Oak Bay, View Royal, Esquimalt, Colwood, Langford, Highlands, Metchosin, Sooke, and East Sooke.
The Capital Regional District includes Greater Victoria as far west as Goldstream, the Saanich Peninsula north to Sidney, and the Southern Gulf Islands, and has a population of approximately 351,000.
Greater Victoria is the largest urban area on Vancouver Island and the southernmost urban area in western Canada, located below the 49th parallel.
Victoria is located on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is 69 km or 90 minutes by highway and ferry south of the City of Vancouver and mainland British Columbia.
Victoria is a major tourist destination for visitors to British Columbia because of its charm, natural beauty and comfortable climate. The city is a cultural centre with theatre, opera, ballet and a symphony readily available, but it does’n take very long to get from the city to nearby oceans, lakes, or wilderness areas.
The economy of Greater Victoria is primarily based on government, tourism and services industry, but also includes a rapidly growing technology and research sector as well as forestry and fishing resource industries. The township of Esquimalt, part of Greater Victoria, is the base for the Pacific Fleet of the Canadian Forces.
The City is also noted for a number of educational institutions, including the University of Victoria, Camosun College, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (one of only six in the world operated by United World Colleges), and Royal Roads University, located at the Hatley Park National Historic Site.
Victoria has once again been rated among the best cities in the Americas by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Victoria ranked as the third best city in the Americas in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards, tied with Quebec City.