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Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria is a Canadian city, and the provincial capital of British Columbia.

It is near the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Greater Victoria has a population of approximately 326,000. It is the largest city on the island. The chief industry is tourism. The township of Esquimalt, which forms part of greater Victoria, is the base for the Pacific Fleet of the Canadian Forces.

Founded in 1843 as Fort Camosun, a Hudson's Bay Company post, the city was later called Fort Victoria. When Vancouver Island became a crown colony, a town was laid out on the site and made the capital of the colony. With the discovery of gold on the British Columbia mainland in 1858, Victoria became the port, supply base, and outfitting centre for miners on their way to the Cariboo gold fields. In 1866 when the island was politically united with the mainland, Victoria remained the capital of the colony and became the provincial capital in 1871.

Victoria's climate is reasonably temperate, with very few daily temperatures above 30C (86F) or below 0C (32F). In January, the average daily high and low temperatures are 6.9C (44.4F) and 0.7C (33.3F), respectively. In July, Victoria enjoys considerably warmer temperatures, averaging a daily high of 21.9C (71.4F) and low of 10.8C (51.4F). The record daily high temperature was 36.1C (97.0F) on July 16, 1941, and the record daily low temperature was -15.6C (3.9F) on January 28, 1950.

Concerning precipitation, Victoria is fairly wet during the winter, but suffers from several weeks of drought-like conditions during the summer. In July, Victoria only receives an average of 19.5 mm (0.8 inch) of rain. In January, Victoria receives an average of 121.8 mm (4.9 inches) of rain, but only an average of 15.2 cm (6.1 inches) of snow, a figure skewed by the Great Blizzard of 1996, where Victoria was buried under 120 cm (4 feet) of snow and received 64.5 cm (25.8 inches) of snow in one day. However, with a mean snow depth of 1 cm in December and January only, Victoria is called by many the "Land of No Snow", where people phone up their relatives on the Prairies and in Ontario and Quebec to make a joke about how they are digging themselves out of six feet of snow while Victorians bike to work and play outdoor sports.

It is the seat of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory and the University of Victoria. The oldest Chinatown in Canada is also within Victoria.

See also: Canada, Canadian provinces and territories, Canadian cities