Vancouver Island, located in British Columbia, Canada, is the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand. Originally called Quadra and Vancouver Island after Spanish navigator Juan de la Bodega y Quadra and British navy officer George Vancouver, the island was first explored by British and Spanish expeditions in the late 18th century. The former's name was eventually dropped and has since been known solely as Vancouver Island. It is one of several North American locations named after this British Royal Navy officer who explored the Pacific Northwest coast of North America between 1791 and 1794. While the city of Vancouver is located on the North American mainland, Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, is located on the island. Along with the minor islands near its southern portion, it is the only part of British Columbia that is south of the 49th Parallel.
The island is 460 kilometers (290 mi) in length, 80 kilometers (50 mi) in width at its widest point, and 32,134 km2 (12,407 square miles) in area. It is the largest island on the western side of North America, the world's 43rd largest island, Canada's 11th largest island, and Canada's second most populous island after the Island of Montreal. The current population is nearly 1.6 million people. Nearly half of these (~800,000) live in Greater Victoria. Other notable cities and towns on Vancouver Island include Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Parksville, Courtenay, and Campbell River.
The island was originally named Quadra's and Vancouver's Island in commemoration of the friendly negotiations held by Spanish Commander of the Nootka Sound settlement Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, and British Naval Captain George Vancouver on Nootka Sound in 1792, to find a solution to the Nootka Crisis.