Coordinates: 33°51′35.9″S 151°12′40″E / 33.859972°S 151.21111°E / -33
Sydney is the largest city in Australia, and the state capital of New South
Wales. Sydney has a metropolitan area population of approximately 4.34
million and an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometres. Its
inhabitants are called Sydneysiders, and Sydney is often called "the Harbour
City". It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting
its role as a major destination for immigrants to Australia.
The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in
1788 at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, commodore of the First Fleet. The
city is built on hills surrounding Sydney Harbour – an inlet of the Tasman
Sea on Australia's south-east coast. It is home to the iconic Sydney Opera
House, Harbour Bridge and its beaches. The metropolitan area is surrounded
by national parks, and contains many bays, rivers and inlets.
The city is home to many prominent parks, such as Hyde Park, Royal Botanical
Gardens and national parks. This is a major factor, along with Sydney
Harbour that has led to the city's reputation as one of the most beautiful
in the world.
Sydney is considered an alpha+ world city, as listed by the Loughborough
University group's 2008 inventory and is ranked 16th among global cities by
Foreign Policy's 2008 Global Cities Index. According to the Mercer cost of
living survey, Sydney is Australia's most expensive city, and the 66th most
expensive in the world. Sydney also ranks among the top 10 most livable
cities in the world according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting and The
Economist. Sydney is also a significant international financial centre and
has been ranked 14th within the top 50 global financial cities as surveyed
by the Mastercard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index (2007), and 1st within
Sydney has hosted major international sporting events, including the 1938
British Empire Games, 2000 Summer Olympics and the final of the 2003 Rugby
World Cup. The main airport serving Sydney is Sydney Airport.
Radio carbon dating suggests that the Sydney region has been inhabited by
indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years. The traditional Indigenous
inhabitants of Sydney Cove are the Cadigal people, whose land once stretched
from south of Port Jackson to Petersham. While estimates of the population
numbers prior to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 remains contentious,
approximately 4,000–8,000 Aboriginal people lived in the Sydney region prior
to contact with British settlers. The British called the Indigenous people
the "Eora", because being asked where they came from, these people would
answer: "Eora", meaning "here", or "from this place" in their language.
There were three language groups in the Sydney region, which were divided
into dialects spoken by smaller clans. The principal languages were Darug
(the Cadigal, original inhabitants of the City of Sydney, spoke a coastal
dialect of Darug), Dharawal and Guringai. Each clan had a territory, the
location of that territory determined the resources available. Although
urbanisation has destroyed much evidence of these settlements (such as shell
middens), a number of Sydney rock engravings, carvings and rock art remain
visible in the Hawkesbury sandstone of the Sydney basin.
In 1770, British sea Captain Lieutenant James Cook landed in Botany Bay on
the Kurnell Peninsula. It is here that James Cook made first contact with an
Aboriginal community known as the Gweagal. Under instruction from the
British government, a convict settlement was founded by Arthur Phillip, who
arrived at Botany Bay with a fleet of 11 ships on 18 January 1788. This site
was soon determined to be unsuitable for habitation, owing to poor soil and
a lack of reliable fresh water. Phillip subsequently founded the colony
further up the coast, at Sydney Cove on Port Jackson on 26 January 1788. He
named it after the British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney, in
recognition of Sydney's role in issuing the charter authorising Phillip to
establish a colony. The original name was intended to be Albion until
Phillip decided upon Sydney.
In April 1789 a disease, thought to be smallpox, killed an estimated 500 to
1000 Aboriginal people between Broken Bay and Botany Bay. There was violent
resistance to British settlement, notably by the warrior Pemulwuy in the
area around Botany Bay, and conflicts were common in the area surrounding
the Hawkesbury River. By 1820 there were only a few hundred Aborigines and
Governor Macquarie had begun initiatives to 'civilise, Christianise and
educate' the Aborigines by removing them from their clans. Macquarie's
tenure as Governor of New South Wales was a period when Sydney was improved
from its basic beginnings. Roads, bridges, wharves and public buildings were
constructed by British and Irish convicts, and by 1822 the town had banks,
markets, well-established thoroughfares and an organised constabulary. The
1830s and 1840s were periods of urban development, including the development
of the first suburbs, as the town grew rapidly when ships began arriving
from Britain and Ireland with immigrants looking to start a new life in a
new country. On 20 July 1842 the municipal council of Sydney was
incorporated and the town was declared the first city in Australia, with
John Hosking the first elected mayor. The first of several Australian gold
rushes started in 1851, and the port of Sydney has since seen many waves of
people arriving from around the world.
Rapid suburban development began in the last quarter of the 19th century
with the advent of steam powered tramways and railways. With
industrialisation Sydney expanded rapidly, and by the early 20th century it
had a population well of more than a million. The Great Depression hit
Sydney badly. One of the highlights of the Depression era, however, was the
completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. There has traditionally
been a rivalry between [[Sydney and Melbourne since the gold rushes of the
1850s made the capital of Victoria Australia's largest and richest city.
Sydney overtook Melbourne in population in the early years of the 20th
century, and has remained the largest city in Australia since this time.
During the 1970s and 1980s Sydney's CBD with the Reserve Bank and Australian
Stock Exchange clearly surpassed Melbourne as the nation's financial capital
Throughout the 20th century, especially in the decades immediately
following World War II, Sydney continued to expand as large numbers of
European and later Asian immigrants populated the metropolitan area.
The city centre is about a quarter of the way in on the south shore of the
upper inlet, the Parramatta River, directly south of the Sydney Harbour
Sydney's urban area is in a coastal basin, which is bordered by the Pacific
Ocean to the East, the Blue Mountains to the West, the Hawkesbury River to
the North and the Royal National Park to the South. It lies on a submergent
coastline, where the ocean level has risen to flood deep river valleys (ria)
carved in the hawkesbury sandstone. Port Jackson, better known as Sydney
Harbour, is one such ria and is the largest natural harbour in the world.
The Sydney area is not affected by significant earthquakes.
The urban area has around 70 harbour and ocean beaches, including the famous
Bondi Beach. Sydney's urban area covers 1,687 km2 (651 sq mi) as at 2001
 The Sydney Statistical Division, used for census data, is the
unofficial metropolitan area  and covers 12,145 km2 (4,689 sq mi). This
area includes the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, and national parks and
other unurbanised land. This makes Sydney the third largest urban
agglomeration in the world behind Brasília (14,400 km²) and Tokyo (13,500
Geographically, Sydney lies over two regions: the Cumberland Plain, a
relatively flat region lying to the south and west of the harbour, and the
Hornsby Plateau, a sandstone plateau lying mainly to the north of the
harbour and dissected by steep valleys. The parts of the city with the
oldest European development are located in the flat areas south of the
harbour. The North Shore was slower to develop because of its hilly
topography and lack of access across the harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge
was opened in 1932 and linked the North Shore to the rest of the city.
Sydney's central business district (CBD) extends southwards for about 3
kilometres (2 mi) from Sydney Cove to the area around Central station. The
Sydney CBD is bounded on the east side by a chain of parkland, and the west
by Darling Harbour, a tourist and nightlife precinct.
Although the CBD dominated the city's business and cultural life in the
early days, other business/cultural districts have developed in a radial
pattern since World War II. As a result, the proportion of white-collar jobs
located in the CBD declined from more than 60 per cent at the end of World
War II to less than 30 per cent in 2004.
Together with the commercial district of North Sydney, joined to the CBD by
the Harbour Bridge, the most significant outer business districts are
Parramatta in the central-west, Penrith in the west, Bondi Junction in the
east, Liverpool in the southwest, Chatswood to the north, and Hurstville to
The city's metropolitan area is characterised by large areas of urban sprawl
and, on the eastern side, beaches along the Tasman Sea
The extensive area covered by urban Sydney is formally divided into 642
suburbs (for addressing and postal purposes), and administered as 40 local
government areas. There is no metropolitan-wide government, but the
Government of New South Wales and its agencies have extensive
responsibilities in providing metropolitan services.
Economy of Sydney
The largest economic sectors in Sydney, as measured by the number of people
employed, include property and business services, retail, manufacturing, and
health and community services. Since the 1980s, jobs have moved from
manufacturing to the services and information sectors. Sydney provides
approximately 25 percent of the country's total GDP.
The City of Sydney, viewed from Balmain.
The Australian Securities Exchange and the Reserve Bank of Australia are
located in Sydney, as are the headquarters of 90 banks and more than half of
Australia's top companies, and the regional headquarters for around 500
multinational corporations. Of the ten largest corporations in Australia by
revenue, four have headquarters in Sydney: Caltex Australia, the
Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and Woolworths. Of the 54 authorised
deposit-taking banks in Australia, 44 are based in Sydney including nine of
the 11 foreign subsidiary banks in Australia and all of the 29 local
branches of foreign banks. Major authorised foreign banks in Sydney include
Citigroup, UBS Australia, Mizuho Corporate Bank, HSBC Bank Australia and
Shopping locations in the central business district include the Queen
Victoria Building, the pedestrian mall on Pitt Street, and international
luxury boutiques in the quieter, northern end of Castlereagh St. Oxford
Street in Paddington and Crown Street, Woollahra are home to boutiques
selling more niche products, and the main streets of Newtown and Enmore
cater more towards students and alternative lifestyles.
Sydney received 7.8 million domestic visitors and 2.5 million international
visitors in 2004. In 2007, the (then) Premier of New South Wales, Morris
Iemma established Events New South Wales to "market Sydney and NSW as a
leading global events destination". Fox Studios Australia has large film
studios in the city.
The city has the highest median household income of any major city in
Australia (US$42,559 PPP). As of 2004, the unemployment rate in Sydney was 4
9 percent. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit's Worldwide cost
of living survey, Sydney is the sixteenth most expensive city in the world,
while a UBS survey ranks Sydney as 15th in the world in terms of net
earnings. As of 20 September 2007, Sydney has the highest median house
price of any Australian capital city at $9,000. Sydney also has the
highest median rent prices of any Australian city at $450 a week.
Sydney hosts many different festivals and some of Australia's largest social
and cultural events. These include the Sydney Festival, Australia's largest
arts festival which is a celebration involving both indoor and free outdoor
performances throughout January; the Biennale of Sydney, established in 1973
the Big Day Out, a travelling rock-music festival which originated in
Sydney; the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras along Oxford Street; the Sydney Film
Festival and many other smaller film festivals such as the short film
Tropfest and Flickerfest.
Australia's premier prize for portraiture, the Archibald Prize is organised
by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is held
every year at Sydney Olympic Park, the final of Australian Idol takes place
on the steps of the Opera House, and Australian Fashion Week takes place in
April/May and September. Sydney's New Years Eve and Australia Day
celebrations are the largest in Australia.
A survey based on tracking the frequency of words and phrases in the media,
cited Sydney as number 9 on a list of the world's top fashion cities in 2009
The city is the site of the world renowned Rosemount Australian Fashion
Week, which occurs biannually, and is home to many of Australia's premier
fashion houses. Most international designers have a major presence in Sydney
Entertainment and performing arts
Sydney has a wide variety of cultural institutions. Sydney's iconic Opera
House has five halls, including a large concert hall and opera and drama
theatres; it is the home of Opera Australia—the third-busiest opera company
in the world, and the Sydney Symphony. Other venues include the Sydney Town
Hall, City Recital Hall, the State Theatre, the Theatre Royal, Sydney, the
Sydney Theatre and the Wharf Theatre.
The National Institute of Dramatic Art, based in Kensington, boasts
internationally famous alumni such as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann
and Cate Blanchett. Sydney's role in the film industry has increased since
the opening of Fox Studios Australia in 1998.
Sydney's most popular nightspots include Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Darling
Harbour, Circular Quay and The Rocks, which all contain various bars,
nightclubs and restaurants. Star City Casino, is Sydney's only casino and is
situated around Darling Harbour. There are many traditional pubs, cafes and
restaurants in inner-city areas such as Newtown, Balmain and Leichhardt.
Sydney's main live music hubs include areas such as Newtown and Annandale,
which nurtured acts such as AC/DC, Bliss n Eso, Midnight Oil and INXS. Other
popular nightspots tend to be spread throughout the city in areas such as
Bondi, Manly, Cronulla and Parramatta.
In the year ending March 2008, Sydney received 2.7 million international
visitors. The most well-known attractions include the Sydney Opera House and
the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other attractions include Royal Botanical Gardens
Luna Park, some 40 beaches and Sydney Tower.
Sport and outdoor activities
Sport is an important part of Sydney's culture. The most popular sport in
Sydney is rugby league. The NSWRFL (today known as the NRL) began in Sydney
in the 1908 season and is the largest and most prestigious domestic rugby
league competition in the Southern Hemisphere. The city is home to nine
of the sixteen teams currently in the National Rugby League competition: the
Canterbury Bulldogs, Cronulla Sharks, Manly Sea Eagles, Penrith Panthers,
Parramatta Eels, South Sydney Rabbitohs, St George Illawarra Dragons, Sydney
Roosters and Wests Tigers.
Fireworks during the 2000 Summer Olympics closing ceremony
Cricket is the most popular summer sport in Sydney. The Ashes Series between
Australia and England is widely popular among the people. As the state
capital, Sydney is the home of the NSW Blues cricket team in the Sheffield
Shield cricket competition. Sydney Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium here host
cricket matches. This city has also hosted 1992 Cricket World Cup and will
also host the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Sydney Cricket Ground is at present
the only test venue in the city. Plans are going on to accommodate ANZ
Stadium as an international cricket venue for Australia.
Other events in Sydney include the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race,
the Golden Slipper horse race, and the City to Surf race.
Apart from the limited role of the Cumberland County Council from 1945–1964,
there has never been an overall governing body for the Sydney metropolitan
area; instead, the metropolitan area is divided into local government areas
(LGAs). These areas have elected councils which are responsible for
functions delegated to them by the New South Wales State Government, such as
planning and garbage collection.
The City of Sydney includes the central business area and some adjoining
inner suburbs, and has in recent years been expanded through amalgamation
with adjoining local government areas, such as South Sydney. It is led by
the elected Lord Mayor of Sydney and a council. The Lord Mayor, however, is
sometimes treated as a representative of the whole city, for example during
Most citywide government activities are controlled by the state government. These include public transport, main roads, traffic control, policing, education above preschool level, and planning of major infrastructure projects. Because a large proportion of the New South Wales population lives in Sydney, state governments have traditionally been reluctant to allow the development of citywide governmental bodies, which would tend to rival the state government. For this reason, Sydney has always been a focus for the politics of both state and federal parliaments. For example, the boundaries of the City of Sydney LGA have been significantly altered by state governments on at least four occasions since 1945, with expected advantageous effect to the governing party in the New South Wales Parliament at the time.