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Dominion of British Columbia
Major cities: Vancouver WM
Provinces: Vancouver Island, Westminster, Okanagan, Kootenay, Queen Charlotte Islands, Alaska Territory, Yukon Territory
Independence from Great Britain: 1871
Languages: English (official), Cantonese, Japanese, various aboriginal languages
The Dominion of British Columbia gained its independence from Great Britain in 1871, being granted responsibility for the former British territories of Alaska (purchased from Russia in 1867) and the Yukon. The Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s caused disputes with the jealous Dominion of Canada and fears within British Columbia of an American takeover of the Yukon Territory, but British mediation and a strong police presence in the Yukon retained British Columbian control over the territory.
The Dominion of British Columbia is a constitutional monarchy headed by the monarch of Great Britain, represented by a governor-general appointed by the prime minister and approved by the monarch. The head of government is the prime minister (leader of the majority political party), and a two-house legislature is based in Victoria. The provinces are each governed by a lieutenant-general (representing the monarch and appointed by the same process as the governor-general) and a premier (like the prime minister, leader of the majority political party), head of a two-house provincial legislature. The territories are governed by commissioners elected from within the territories and approved by the federal government; the commissioners appoint their own councils to help administer the territories.
The majority of the white population of British Columbia is of British descent. Recent decades have seen an influx of Japanese and Chinese immigrants, predominantly engaged in the salmon-fishing industry. The sizable aboriginal population is also engaged in this industry, and for the most part retains its various traditional lifestyles in the interior and the less-populated northern coasts. The Alaska and Yukon Territories are a mix of aboriginal peoples and white migrants, the latter a mixture of American, Russian, Asian, and various Commonwealth migrants left over from the gold rush of the 1890s.
Following the burning-out of the gold rush by the early part of the century, salmon fishing and logging dominate the British Columbian economy. The Pacific ports of Vancouver and Victoria are vital links in the Pacific Ocean trade, passing on goods south down the coast to the American Pacific ports or east via rail to Canada and Alberta.
The Pacific squadron of the Royal Navy maintains a base at Vancouver, on loan from the British Columbian government until 1970. British Columbia contributes several small and medium-sized ships to the Royal Navy's Pacific squadron. The standing army of British Columbia is the limited to the British Columbian Rangers, essentially a border security force which maintains the country's largely isolated borders. The gold rush scare of the 1890s produced the North West Police, a federal police force commissioned to maintain peace and government control in the Alaska and Yukon Territories.