Victoria is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It lies at 123 degrees 22′ west longitude, and 48 degrees 25′ north latitude. Its latitude is about the same as Dijon, France; Zurich, Switzerland; Budapest, Hungary and Rostov, Russia in the northern hemisphere and the southern end of New Zealand in the southern hemisphere. Greater Victoria covers an area of 695 square kilometres (432 square miles).
The area consists of rolling lowlands, out of which granite rises to heights of up to 300 metres (985 feet). There are 48 regional, provincial and federal parks in Greater Victoria, totaling more than 7,600 hectares (22,724 acres). Old deltas and marine shorelines in the Langford, Metchosin and the Saanich area of Greater Victoria show signs of past glacial activity where the land has risen 90 metres (295 feet) above the present sea level. In parts of Victoria’s north and west shorelines, waves cut into layers of glacial till and delta material to produce cliffs, spits and lagoons.
The largest island off the west coast of North America, Vancouver Island is located next to the mainland coast of British Columbia and the north shore of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.
Vancouver Island is actually closer to the United States than mainland Canada and occupies an area roughly the size of Holland. It stretches 500 kilometres (320 miles) southeast to northwest with an area of 3,175,000 hectares (9,493,171 acres) and 3,460 kilometres (2,150 miles) of coastline. It is separated from Vancouver, B.C. by the Strait of Georgia to the east and from Washington State by the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south and southeast.
A mountainous spine runs the length of the island and breaks into long mountain fjords on its west coast. The Alberni Inlet cuts more than halfway through the island ending at the community of Port Alberni. The Saanich Inlet in the Victoria area is one of the few fjord inlets on Vancouver Island’s east coast. Along its southern half, the terrain is so rugged that the Malahat Mountain section of the Island Highway climbs to an elevation of more than 335 metres (1,099 feet) above the inlet’s waters.
The west coast of the island is sprinkled with small communities, notably Ucluelet and Tofino, located on either side of the world-renowned Pacific Rim National Park. The open Pacific Ocean allows for storm watching while expanses of sandy beaches attract visitors from around the world.