Vancouver is surrounded by water on three sides and overlooked by the Coast Range - mountains that rise abruptly to more than 1,500 m. Its climate is one of the mildest in Canada. Temperatures average 3°C in January and 18°C in July. Vancouver's average annual precipitation is 1,219 mm. Most rainfall occurs in winter.
Archaeological evidence shows that coastal Indians had settled the Vancouver area by 500 B.C. British naval captain George Vancouver explored the area in 1792. Vancouver was founded as a sawmill settlement called Granville in the 1870s. The city was incorporated in 1886 and renamed after Captain Vancouver.
With a present population of about 560,000 (estimated), Vancouver lies in a region of more than 2 million people. Vancouver is the largest city in the province and the third largest in Canada. It covers an area of 113 sq km.
Vancouver is a major port and probably leads the world in grain exports. As the main western terminus of Canada's transcontinental highway and rail routes, it is the primary city of western Canada, as well as one of the nation's largest industrial centers.
Vancouver's Central Area has 60% of the region's office space and is home to headquarters of forest products and mining companies as well as branches of national and international banks, accounting and law firms. In recent years, Vancouver has expanded as a centre for software development and biotechnology, while film studios and the streets provide a backdrop for the developing film industry. Two of the Port of Vancouver's container docks are located in the city. The Fraser River has barge and log traffic serving forestry and other water related industries. Around 1,800 acres of industrial land provide an important range of support services, manufacturing and wholesale premises for businesses throughout the city and region.
Vancouver is a major tourist destination. In addition to the city's scenic location, visitors enjoy beautiful gardens and world-famous Stanley Park, one of more than 180 city parks, and a combination of natural forest and parklands near the city center.