Vancouver Island forms part of British Columbia, lying off the W. coast of North America, from which it is separated by the Gulf of Georgia, Johnstone Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound, and the Strait of Fuca. Having a length of 275 miles, a maximum breadth of 85 miles, and an area of 16,000 square miles, it presents a deeply-indented coast-line, with Nootka and Barclay Sounds to the W., and Victoria, Esquimault, and Nanaimo Harbours to the E. Traversed by a central ridge, 2,000 feet high, the country slopes down on either side to the sea, and has on its lower levels wooded hills enclosing rich pastures and fertile valleys. Though rivers are scarce, the climate is moist, and both wheat and vegetables grow readily. Coal is worked, and recent discoveries of gold have stimulated immigration. Fish is plentiful on the coast and in the rivers. Victoria, the capital, is at the S.E. extremity. First colonized in 1781, Vancouver Land was united with British Columbia in 1866.