Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada, and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 80,017, while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, has a population of 344,615, making it the 15th most populous Canadian urban region.
Victoria is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from BC's largest city of Vancouver on the mainland. The city is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Seattle by airplane, ferry, or the Victoria Clipper passenger-only ferry which operates daily, year round between Seattle and Victoria and 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Port Angeles, Washington, by Coho ferry across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, in particular its two most famous landmarks, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings (finished in 1897 and home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia) and the Empress hotel (opened in 1908). The city's Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco's.
Known as the "The Garden City", Victoria is an attractive city and a popular tourism destination with a thriving technology sector that has risen to be its largest revenue-generating private industry. Victoria is in the top twenty of world cities for quality-of-life, according to Numbeo.
The city has a large non-local student population, who come to attend the University of Victoria, Camosun College, Royal Roads University, the Victoria College of Art, the Sooke Schools International Programme and the Canadian College of Performing Arts.
Victoria is very popular with boaters with its beautiful and rugged shorelines and beaches. Victoria is also popular with retirees, who come to enjoy the temperate and usually snow-free climate of the area as well as the usually relaxed pace of the city.
Thanks to the rain shadow effect of the nearby Olympic Mountains, Victoria is the driest location on the British Columbia coast, with much lower rainfall than other nearby areas.
Total annual precipitation is just 608 mm (23.9 in) at the Gonzales weather station in Victoria compared with 1,589 mm (63 in) in Vancouver and 970 mm (38.2 in) in Seattle. Port Renfrew, located just 80 km (50 mi) away on the more exposed southwest coast of Vancouver Island, receives 3,671 mm (144.5 in) of precipitation annually, six times as much as Victoria.
Even the Victoria Airport, 25 km (16 mi) north of the city, receives about 45% more precipitation than the city proper. Victoria's mild climate can support some palm trees, including the Chinese Windmill Palm.
One of the most striking features of Victoria's climate is that it has distinct dry and rainy seasons.
Nearly two-thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the four wettest months, November to February.
Precipitation in December, the wettest month (109 mm or 4.3 in) is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month (14 mm or 0.55 in).
Victoria experiences the driest summers in Canada (outside of the extreme northern reaches of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut).