The area of British Columbia is 357,600 sq. m., and its population by the census of 1901 was 190,000. Since that date this has been largely increased by the influx of miners and others, consequent upon the discovery of precious metals in the Kootenay, Boundary and Atlin districts. Much of this is a floating population, but the opening up of the valleys by railway and new lines of steamboats, together with the settlements made in the vicinity of the Canadian Pacific railway, has resulted in a considerable increase of the permanent population. The white population comprises men of many nationalities. There is a large Chinese population, the census of 1901 returning 14,201. The influx of Chinamen has, however, practically ceased, owing to the tax of $500 per head imposed by the government of the dominion. Many Japanese have also come in. The Japanese are engaged chiefly in lumbering and fishing, but the Chinese are found everywhere in the province. Great objection is taken by the white population to the increasing number of "Mongolians," owing to their competition with whites in the labour markets.
The Japanese do not appear to be so much disliked, as they adapt themselves to the ways of white men, but they are equally objected to on the score of cheap labour; and in 1907-1908 considerable friction occurred with the Dominion government over the Anti-Japanese attitude of British Columbia, which was shown in some rather serious riots. In the census of 1901 the Indian population is returned at 25,488; of these 20,351 are professing Christians and 5137 are pagans. The Indians are divided into very many tribes, under local names, but fall naturally on linguistic grounds into a few large groups. Thus the southern part of the interior is occupied by the Salish and Kootenay, and the northern interior by the Tinneh or Athapackan people. On the coast are the Haida, Tsimshian, Kwakiatl, Nootka, and about the Gulf of Georgia various tribes related to the Salish proper. There is no treaty with the Indians of British Columbia, as with those of the plains, for the relinquishment of their title to the land, but the government otherwise assists them.
There is an Indian superintendent at Victoria, and under him are nine agencies throughout the province to attend to the Indians - relieving their sick and destitute, supplying them with seed and implements, settling their disputes and administering justice. The Indian fishing stations and burial grounds are reserved, and other land has been set apart for them for agricultural and pastoral purposes. A number of schools have been established for their education. They were at one time a dangerous element, but are now quiet and peaceable.
The chief cities are Victoria, the capital, on Vancouver Island; and Vancouver on the mainland, New Westminster on the Fraser and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. Rossland and Nelson in West Kootenay, as well as Fernie in East Kootenay and Grand Forks in the Boundary district, are also places of importance.