Geography And Climate

The original vegetation of most of Vancouver and its suburbs was dense temperate rain forest, consisting of conifers with scattered pockets of maple and alder, as well as large areas of swampland (even in upland areas, due to poor drainage).

The conifers were a typical coastal British Columbia mix of Douglas-fir, Western red cedar and Western Hemlock; thought to have been the greatest concentration of the largest of these trees on the entire British Columbia Coast. Only in Seattle's Elliott Bay did the trees rival those of Burrard Inlet and English Bay in size. The largest trees in Vancouver's old-growth forest were in the Gastown area, where the first logging occurred, and on the south slopes of False Creek and English Bay, especially around Jericho Beach. The forest in Stanley Park is mostly second and third growth, and evidence of old-fashioned logging techniques such as springboard notches can still be seen there.

A diverse collection of plants and trees were imported from other parts of the continent and from points across the Pacific, and can be found growing throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Various species of palm trees have proven hardy in this climate and are an occasional sight, as are large numbers of other exotic trees such as the monkey puzzle tree, the Japanese Maple, and various flowering exotics such as magnolias, azaleas, and rhododendrons. Many rhododendrons have grown to immense sizes, as have other species imported from harsher climates in Eastern Canada or Europe. The native Douglas Maple can also attain a tremendous size. Many streets in the city, covering whole areas, are lined with flowering varieties of Japanese cherry trees that were donated by Japan, starting in the 1930s, and flowering for weeks at the opening of spring each year. Other areas have streets lined in flowering chestnut, horse chestnut. and other decorative shade trees. Certain areas of West Vancouver that have the right soil requirements are home to the Arbutus menziesii, Canada's only broad-leaved evergreen tree.

Vancouver has an area of 114 square kilometres (44 sq mi), including both flat and hilly ground. Vancouver is adjacent to the Strait of Georgia, a body of water that is shielded from the Pacific Ocean by Vancouver Island. It is in the Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8) and the Pacific Maritime Ecozone. The city itself forms part of the Burrard Peninsula, lying between Burrard Inlet to the north and the Fraser River to the south. Vancouver is not on nearby Vancouver Island. However, both the island and the city (as well as Vancouver, Washington) are named after Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver.

Vancouver is renowned for its scenery and has one of the largest urban parks in North America, Stanley Park. The North Shore Mountains dominate the cityscape, and on a clear day scenic vistas include the snow-capped volcano Mount Baker in the State of Washington to the southeast, Vancouver Island across the Strait of Georgia to the west and southwest, and the Sunshine Coast to the northwest.

Vancouver's climate is unusually temperate by Canadian standards; its winters are the fourth warmest of Canadian cities monitored by Environment Canada after nearby Victoria, Nanaimo, and Duncan, all of which are on Vancouver Island. Vancouver has daily minimum temperatures falling below 0 °C (32 °F) on an average of 46 days per year and below −10 °C (14.0 °F) on only two days per year. The average annual precipitation is about 1,219 millimetres (48.0 in), though this varies dramatically throughout the city due to the topography. Summer months are quite sunny with moderate temperatures, tempered by sea breezes. The daily maximum averages 22 °C (72 °F) in July and August, with highs occasionally reaching 30 °C (86 °F). The summer months are often very dry, resulting in moderate drought conditions a few months of the year. In contrast, winter is a rainy season with more than half of all winter days receiving measurable precipitation. On average, snow falls on only eleven days per year, with only three days receiving 6 centimetres (2.4 in) or more.

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