Okanagan Valley Information
The Okanagan, also known as the Okanagan Valley and sometimes as Okanagan Country is a region located in the Canadian province of British Columbia defined by the basin of Okanagan Lake and the Canadian portion of the Okanagan River. As of 2011, the region's population is approximately 341,818.
The primary city in the Okanagan Valley is Kelowna. The name derives from the Okanagan language place name ukʷnaqín. An alternate explanation from Washington proposes "People living where you can see the top", ostensibly of Chopaka Peak in the Lower Similkameen.
The region is known for its dry, sunny climate, dry landscapes and lakeshore communities and particular lifestyle. Like much of Southern British Columbia, the Okanagan receives a mild climate, although the Okanagan is considerably drier than many other areas. Areas in the north end of the valley receive more precipitation and cooler temperatures than areas to the south. Generally, Kelowna is the transition zone between the drier south and the wetter north. Vegetation also ranges from cactus and sagebrush in the south, to Cedar and Hemlock trees in the North. The Okanagan Valley receives hot summers and fairly mild winters. Areas near Osoyoos and Oliver are part of Canada's only desert and daytime highs in that region occasionally surpass 40 degrees in the Summer months.
The service industry employs the most people in Kelowna, the largest city in the tourist-oriented Okanagan Valley. In summer, boating, golf, hiking and biking are popular, and in winter, both Alpine skiing and Nordic skiing are favourite activities at the nearby Big White and Silver Star ski resorts.
Kelowna produces wines that have received international recognition. Vineyards are common around and south of the city where the climate is ideal for the many wineries. Notable vineyards in the area include the Mission Hill Winery (in West Kelowna), specifically for its unique architectural design. At least two major wineries were damaged or destroyed (now rebuilt) in 2003 due to the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire. Kelowna is also the home of Sun-Rype, a popular manufacturer of fruit bars and juices.
Okanagan College and University of British Columbia are the predominant centres for post-secondary education. Over 5000 full-time students attend Okanagan College. In addition to vocational training and adult basic education, the college offers a highly regarded university transfer program. University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus has a student population of over 8000 full-time students, enrolled in diverse undergraduate and graduate programs.
The valley stretches from Sicamous, (where it merges with the Shuswap), to the US Border, where it continues as Okanogan County. The Okanagan Region often includes the Boundary Country, Similkameen Country and Shuswap, as well as the Okanagan Valley itself.
Kelowna is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley, in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. Its name derives from a Okanagan language term for "grizzly bear". Kelowna ranks as the 22nd largest metropolitan area in Canada.
Nearby communities include the district of West Kelowna (a separate political entity from Kelowna) to the west across Okanagan Lake, Lake Country and Vernon to the north, as well as Peachland to the southwest and, further to the south, Summerland and Penticton.
Kelowna is the third largest metropolitan area in the province and ranks as the 22nd largest in Canada, with a population of 179,839 in 2011.