Language

English and French are the official languages of the Canadian government, thus government services across the country are provided in both languages.

Most Vancouver residents speak English as a first language.

When best to go

Despite Canada’s reputation for heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, Vancouver’s coastal climate is relatively mild.

There is plentiful rainfall between October and March, but this decreases significantly in the warmer months. Temperatures peak in July, August and September, and are pleasant and warm rather than scorching hot. This is a great time to be in the city, as the beaches are lively and sun-kissed, there are festivals galore and people are in the mood to party. If you’re visiting for the nearby ski slopes, late December to February is a good bet for great powder. Whenever you visit, bear in mind that Vancouver’s weather is unpredictable and can change at a moment’s notice, so it is best to come prepared for all eventualities.

Local customs

As a relaxed beach city, Vancouver places very few restrictions on visitors in terms of dress or activity (there are even options for those with a liberal attitude to clothing, most notably the popular nudist hotspot Wreck Beach near the University of British Columbia).

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The legal age for drinking and smoking is 19, and smoking is banned in a number of public places including beaches, bus stops and many city parks.

Religious demographic

Vancouver is a city with a broadly secular identity, with 42% of the population lacking a religious affiliation.

After this, the largest religious groups are Catholic and Protestant. Significant Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim minorities also exist.

Currency

Canadian dollar (CAD)

Country dialling code

+1

Exchange rate

$1 = 0.9 CAD £1 = 1.6 CAD €1 = 1.4 CAD

Embassy contacts

Consulate of the United States, Vancouver Phone: +1 604 685 4311 Address: 1075 West Pender Street, V6E 2M6 Website: www.vancouver.usconsulate.gov British Consulate, Vancouver Phone: +1 604 683 4421 Address: Suite 800, 1111 Melville Street, V6E 3V6 Website: www.ukincanada.fco.gov.uk

Time zone

GMT-8, except for days between the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November when the time is adjusted to GMT-7 for daylight savings.

Population

2.1 million

24 hour emergency contact

Ambulance, police and fire services: 911

Public holidays

New Year’s Day January 1, 2012

Good Friday April 6, 2012

Easter Monday April 9, 2012

Victoria Day May 21, 2012

Canada Day July 1, 2012

British Columbia Day August 6, 2012

Labor Day September 3, 2012

Thanksgiving Day October 8, 2012

Remembrance Day November 11, 2012

Christmas Day December 25, 2012

Boxing Day December 26, 2012

Business hours

Standard business hours in Vancouver are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. However, banks may close earlier at 4pm and shops may stay open late into the evening.