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They provide the land mass for both Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii.The highest peak on Vancouver Island is the Golden Hinde, at 2,200 m.
The northern end of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State terminates at the Fraser River, and then the high, snow and ice-covered peaks of the Coast Mountains extend northward along the Alaskan Panhandle into the Yukon.
The region is a basin or watershed, because it is surrounded by higher mountains.
Many of the rocks are lavas of Cretaceous and Tertiary (65.5 million to 2.6 million years ago) geological ages with apparently little mineralization except around the plateau edges.
The Fraser River has cut deeply into the bedrock in the southern part of the plateau to form the spectacular Fraser River Canyon. Another upland area of mainly Jurassic lava rocks with some recent volcanoes, the plateau contains the headwaters of the Stikine River.
Both the Interior and Stikine plateaus are about 1,000 m above sea level.
British Columbia is a land of diversity and contrast within small areas.
Coastal landscapes, characterized by high, snow-covered mountains rising above narrow fjords and inlets, contrast with the broad forested upland of the central interior and the plains of the northeast.
The vast interior is dominated by parallel mountain ranges and its population spreads north–south along valleys, notably the Okanagan and the Kootenay.
Population centres are dispersed, as at Kamloops and Prince George in the interior, Prince Rupert and Kitimat on the northern coast, and Dawson Creek and Fort St. Each of these towns are centres of separate sub-regions and depend more on world markets than local markets.
Much of the development of resource-based economic activity in the province has been concerned with linking these separate regions together into a broader provincial economy.
The northern half of the province is virtually uninhabited north of Prince Rupert and is cut off from the Pacific Ocean by the Alaska Panhandle.
The fourth range of the group, the Cariboo Mountains northwest of the Thompson River, is composed of sedimentary rocks of Proterozoic age which appear to have fewer mineral deposits.