How big is Vancouver Island?
Bigger than entire countries, states, and provinces. It’s so big, you could spend several weeks exploring Vancouver Island and not see it all.
Located in the Canadian province of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is 31,285 km² (12,079 mi²). This makes it the largest island on the west coast of North America.
This, of course, means nothing if you have no basis for comparison. Using MapFrappe (a free map comparison tool that factors in map projection distortion), I created a series of maps to put its size into perspective.
First, here’s the island roughly outlined in blue:
Vancouver Island is 3x bigger than the island of Hawai’i (10,430 km²) and bigger than all the Hawai’ian islands combined (28,311 km²).
American states of VT, NH, MA, CT
It’s bigger than the states of Vermont (24,905 km²), New Hampshire (24,214 km²), Massachusetts (27,363 km²), and more than twice the size of Connecticut (14,357 km²).
It’s only slightly larger than Belgium (30,528 km²).
It’s almost 1.5x bigger than Israel (20,770 km²).
It’s only slightly smaller than Taiwan (36,193 km²).
It’s 3/4th the size of Switzerland (41,285 km²)… but practically just as mountainous!
Vancouver Island’s about half the size of the Australian state of Tasmania (68,401 km²).
It looks even tinier compared to New Zealand (270,467 km²), which is 12x larger.
Vancouver Island’s almost 3x as large as Jamaica (10,991 km²).
It’s almost 4x bigger than the Greek island of Crete (8,336 km²).
Prince Edward Island
It’s 5.5x larger than the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island (5,660 km²).
The African island nation of Madagascar looks absolutely enormous when you compare it. It’s 19x larger (587,041 km²).
It’s approximately half the size of Sri Lanka (65,610 km²), the island nation off the southeast coast of India.
The island could fit 12x into Japan (377,930 km²).
It’s about a third the size of South Korea (99,678 km²).
When you compare the island of Ireland to Vancouver Island, you see that Ireland’s almost 3x bigger (84,421 km²).
Isle of Man
Vancouver Island dwarfs the tiny Isle of Man (572 km²) in the UK by 55x!
It’s also 1.5x larger than Wales (20,800 km²).
And if it was placed over Great Britain, it would span from the Welsh island of Anglesey in the north to Brighton in the south. London would be at the approximate location of the city of Nanaimo. Brighton would be Sooke. Anglesey would be Port Hardy.
While it’s obvious that it’s much smaller than Great Britain, Tasmania, and Ireland, it helps to think of Vancouver Island in that same sort of scale. Vancouver Island is not only big, it is surprisingly diverse.
Needless to say, you can’t see Vancouver Island in one day.
Loved this! I’ve put it on my favourites list! People are always asking.
Thanks for checking it out, Geri!
That’s cool. Makes me proud of the place.
SO why wasn’t it made another province like PEI ?
Well, it kind of used to be. Vancouver Island was once its own separate colony from 1849 to 1866. It then merged with the mainland to become the colony of British Columbia, which ultimately became a Canadian province in 1871. Victoria was the capital of the Colony of Vancouver Island, while New Westminster was the original capital of BC.
I love Vancouver Island. Have been there 3x and would love to live there.
My children immigrated to Chemainus in June 2017 ! I wished I could join them…
Vancouver Island’s a pretty special place. You’re lucky that you’ve been three times! Hopefully you have many more visits in your future, and who’s to say… maybe one day Chemainus will be home to you too. 🙂
You should have mentioned that Vancouver Island’s population will soon be pushing one million. Worthy of being called “a province?”
I mean, who’s to say what will happen in the future, but before BC joined Confederation and became a Canadian province, Vancouver Island was a separate colony called the Colony of Vancouver Island. But that was shortlived. I’m not sure anyone’s making an argument for Vancouver Island to be its own separate province.
Let us make it a sovereign country, though granting dual citizenship to all current Canadians so that if someone were to be convicted for terrorist activities, they can be stripped of their Canadian citizenship and be left with only a Vancouver Island citizenship for the purposes of not not rendering the criminal stateless.
Such interesting information! I do love Vancouver Island – have visited there as my brother is Canadian!
I would love to follow you and all of your posts.
I was born and raised on Vancouver Island. Born in Duncan, lived in Buckley Bay for a short time, then found our forever home in Union Bay. We left briefly to Gold River, as Dad was leaving his logging business and needed a job. At the time the Pulp Mill in Gold River was thriving, so without selling our house we moved up North West. I left after 5 years, finished High School and then hit the road to Edmonton, where there were good fullbtime jobs. If I wanted to stay on the island I would have to resign myself to working some crappy retail job or go to University or College, and my family did not encourage that as we were working class people with no money for post secondary schooling. So I settled in to living in Edmonton and quite loved it, loved the big city..
My parents returned to what now is called the Comox Valley, but specifically it was back to the old house in Union Bay. They owned the lot beside our old house and within a couple years went ahead and built a brand new house. Everyone was very happy to see them move out of the old place as it was OLD and crusty and then they moved into the shiny new place, a little higher on McLeod Road, so their view of the ocean was even better than before. It was an incredible view too. We all spent many summer time hours sitting out on the deck, watching boats come and go and just enjoying the summer breezes.. Love You Dad,
(Stanley James McKay) for always providing for your family. ♥️
I was raised down at little river which is about a mile and half towards the Powell River ferry dock or in other direction 1.5 miles from the Air Base when it was very active. Our trailer seemed to be right on the flight path. I remember the Voodoo’s flying right over top and the buffalo’s and T-Birds. at least that’s what we called them as kids. they had the bright orange fuel tanks at the end of their wings.. I remember going oyster picking at union pay. I worked for one of the oyster places. I loved your article. I new the Island was big but didn’t have a reference or comparison now I do thank You.
Just wanted to add we walked th West Coast Trail when I was on an outward Boundish type thing. Wasn’t busy like now. For some reason the town of Bamfield has always stuck in my mind. Sorry for the P.S.
Great article! I really enjoyed the comparisons. Just a heads up, Looks like the math was off on the new Zealand comparison, 270,467 divided by 31,285 is 8.6 or almost 9 times bigger you could say.
Really interesting to learn even though we’re from here Robyn. I never really thought about just how large it actually is although driving all over here I should have guessed better. It’s an incredible place and I hope it always keeps its charm.
Increⅾible quest there. What occurred after?
Would you be able to compare Vancouver Island to Sweden for me? I used to live on Malcolm Island, upp close to Pt Hardy, but now I live in Sweden and I’ve always wondered how Van isl compares to this country. I’ve not got the computer suavy to figure it out like you have though! Thanks in advance
yes it is large and getting more and more populated. My pet peeve: we need to renew our railway and extend it to the northern Island for all to enjoy. And our highways need to have alternative routes
I’ve traveled to Vancouver Island twice for filming work including a drive event for the 2017 Honda CR-V (link copied here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_BTM0RlrbI) and have loved what I’ve seen. Sadly though I haven’t made if further north yet than Nanaimo and I know there is much more to see. I do hope that I’ll get a chance at some point to see the island top to bottom as it’s well worth the effort getting there! Interesting post!
I grew up in Little River a tiny fishing camping resort area beside the powell River ferry Dock and 1.5 miles from the Base. We lived right on the flight path. The Voodoo Jets would scream right over our trailer sometimes low enough to rattle the windows and always low enough to clearly see the pilot. I was raised in several foster homes, one at Point Holmes, One in Cumberland and two in Courtenay. My natural mother worked at the Mayfair Grill where the old PCL bus station was on the main street back then. We also only had the one bridge and there was no by-pass. I loved growing up there. I did the west coast trail as part of an Outward Bound project. Went over the medicine bowls on a rope and accompanied the B.C. Lions football team to Stokum Falls many years as they were always using the main park by the CRA for their spring training facility and they stayed at the Mexicana Inn at the bottom of Ryan Rd. Hill. What it’s called today if it’s even still there I have no Idea. I have taken my family to visit the Island many times and always go through Cathedral Forest and on to Tofino and Long Beach. Camped in the summers as a teen on Hornby Island. But liked Denman Island better was quieter and less people. If I get the chance I would move back in a heartbeat..I sorely miss the ever present Black Berry’s
Thanks for the information. It is fascinating. My grandson is posted to Esquimalt. I want to know everything about Vancouver Island. Unfortunately I will never be able to visit. I watch Knowledge network to see all the programs about B.C.
Why is it not compared to the Philippines with similar shape?
I’ve been living on Vancouver Island for nearly 49 years and absolutely love it!
I was surprised by some of the comparisons in the above, very interesting!
This is awesome work which I shared with freinds. I note comments about the islands history which is fascinating but know one ever talks about who owns it. The British Monarchy of course. As they do all of Canada.
What a great post Robyn! That’s 19 new fast facts I didn’t know. Very share-worthy :o)
Haha, thanks Kyle! Glad you enjoyed this. 🙂
I am a 6 generation of Victoria and I love this island. I have travelled north, east west and always head south to home.
Would be a nice motorcycle ride.How much paved road and could you ride tip to tip in a day
It’s pretty much all paved, except the logging roads. You could ride the length of the Island in one long day, maybe 8 hours.
Thanks for this article. Would you believe, someone actually asked me this morning “How big is Vancouver Island?”! (I live in Australia but my two daughters both live on V.I.)
I replied, “About half the size of Tasmania, I think, but stretched out diagonally.” Turns out I was right.
So, I decided to compare poulations. In 2016 the population of V.I. was 775,347, whereas Tasmania’s was only two thirds as much: 518,500.
(You never know, this might come up as a trivia night question one day. )
What can I add??? I grew up in Edmonton and my parents retired to Victoria in the late 60’s. When I finished my education I followed and have never looked back. V.I. is a wonderful environment and seems to give us distance as we somehow feel removed from many of the world’s troubles.
I read somewhere that Denman Island is almost exactly the some size as Manhattan. can you verify this ? Your site is very interesting !
We often tell people, “We get to live on a Pacific island. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
A few years ago we were trying to explain Canada to a friend in the Netherlands, so we drew a quick map, drew a circle around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and said, “This is the Netherlands. Now, THIS is Canada.”
Marcia and Mike.
P.S. PEI (the ‘other’ coast) is under 5700 km2. But in comparison, Mike used to run a field study in eastern Ontario that was nearly 40K km2
[…] of all, you should know that Vancouver Island is big. Like, really big! The island is a little bigger than Belgium and much bigger than Israel. […]
My 2 best friends live on Vancouver Island & just love it. I’m sure I will too, when I visit this spring.
We ve lived on this beautiful Island for 5 yrs now whos with me let separate and be the 11 prov of canada Vote YES to separation
Born in Prince Rupert or Kaen Island surrounded by gorgeous mountains and one of the deepest natural harbours on the West coast of North America slightly north of Vancouver Island (lol) what can I say B.C. is the Jewell of Canada regardless where you are. Living in Ontario and miss my province sorely.
Written in 2014 by Elzien
There is a place I know where the weather is mild and the scenery spectacular . Where the water meets land with a force so great it creates huge waves that is the envy of many surfers . Sandy beaches that stretch for miles . You feel the mist as the ocean crashes to shore leaving your face damp and the breeze tugs at your hair and you feel fresh and exhilarated . Forests with gigantic trees that are hundreds of years old . Draped in moss of all colours and textures . Pathways and trails with large ferns and vegetation of all kinds . Misty and mysterious with the scent of cedars and decaying wood . There are beautiful gardens with so many plants and flowers that simply take your breath away . The mixed aromas are intoxicating .
The birds are a wonderful mix of seabirds and songbirds . I have seen the large Blue Heron and the majestic Bald Eagle and the tiny energetic Hummingbird .
There are Sea lions , Seals , Salmon and Dolphins and of course the Killer whales .
We have Bears , Cougars , Wolves and Elk and many Deer ! Sail boats , Tug boats , Fishing boats and The BC Ferries . Farms and Wineries and Artists of all kinds .
We are so blessed to live here .
Where is this place you ask ?
It’s Vancouver Island ! It’s Home !
Your awesome. Exactly what I was looking for plus what I didn’t know but possibly would have one day.
We always tell people, “We live on a Pacific island. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
In terms of scale, in trying to explain our home to a friend in the Netherlands we drew a quick map of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and said, “This is the size of the Netherlands. Now, THIS is Canada.”
On the other hand, I used to run a field study that covered 40,000 sq km of eastern Ontario (but we also have the rest of BC to explore…
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