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About Sydney




Sydney  is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. It is located on Australia's south-east coast along the Tasman Sea and surrounding one of the world's largest natural harbours. Residents are together known as "Sydneysiders" and constitute the most multicultural city in Australia and one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

The area around Sydney has been inhabited by indigenous Australiansfor tens of millennia. The first British settlers arrived in 1788 with Captain Arthur Phillip and founded Sydney as a penal colony. Successive colonial Governors assisted to transform the settlement into a thriving and independent metropolis. Since convict transportation ended in the mid 1800s the city has become a global cultural and economic centre.  The population of Sydney at the time of the 2011 census was 4.39 million. About 1.5 million of this total were born overseas and represent a multitude of different countries from around the world. There are more than 250 different languages spoken in Sydney and about one-third of residents speak a language other than English at home.

Sydney has an advanced market economy with strengths in finance, manufacturing, and tourism. Its gross regional product was $337.45 billion in 2013 making it a larger economy than countries such asDenmark, Singapore, and Hong Kong.[21] There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational corporations in Sydney and the city is promoted as Asia Pacific's leading financial hub. In addition to hosting events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics, millions of tourists come to Sydney each year to see the city's landmarks. Its natural features include Sydney Harbour, the Royal National Park, Bondi Beach, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Man-made attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are also well known to international visitors.





New South Wales


Sydney skyline at dusk - Dec 2008.jpg



The Sydney Opera House and CBD at dusk from Jeffrey St, Kirribilli in December 2008







Traditional owners


The original inhabitants of Sydney were indigenous AustraliansRadiocarbon dating suggests that they have occupied the area in and around Sydney for at least 30,000 years. The earliest British settlers called them Eora people. "Eora" is the term the indigenous population used to explain their origins upon first contact with the British. Its literal meaning is "from this place". Prior to the arrival of the British there were 4,000 to 8,000 native people in Sydney from as many as 29 different clans. Sydney Cove from Port Jackson to Petersham was inhabited by the Cadigal clan. The principal language groups were DarugGuringai, and Dharawal. The earliest Europeans to visit the area noted that the indigenous people were conducting activities such as camping and fishing, using trees for bark and food, collecting shells, and cooking fish.

Urban development has destroyed much of the evidence of ancient indigenous culture, though some rock art and engravings can still be found in places such as Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park  The first meeting between the native people and the British occurred on 29 April 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula and encountered the Gweagal clan. He noted in his journal that they were confused and somewhat hostile towards the foreign visitors. Cook was on a mission of exploration and was not commissioned to start a settlement. He spent a short time collecting food and conducting scientific observations before continuing further north along the east coast of Australia and claiming the new land he had discovered for Britain.




Colonial era

Britain had for a long time been sending its convicts across the Atlantic to the American colonies. That trade was ended with the Declaration of Independence by the United States in 1776. Overrun with prisoners, Britain decided in 1786 to found a new penal outpost in the territory discovered by Cook some 16 years earlier. Captain Arthur Phillip was charged with establishing the new colony. He led a fleet (known as the First Fleet) of 11 ships and about 850 convicts into Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, though deemed the location unsuitable due to poor soil and a lack of fresh water. He travelled a short way further north and arrived at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788. This was to be the location for the new colony. The official proclamation and naming of the colony happened on 7 February 1788. The name was at first to be Albion but Phillip decided on Sydney in recognition of Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney and his role in authorising the establishment of the settlement.

Between 1788 and 1792 about 4,300 convicts were landed at Sydney. The colony was not founded on the principles of freedom and prosperity. Maps from this time show no prison buildings; the punishment for convicts was transportation rather than incarceration, but serious offences were penalised by flogging and hanging. Officers and convicts alike faced starvation as supplies ran low and little could be cultivated from the land.  The region's indigenous population was also suffering. It is estimated that half of the native people in Sydney died during the smallpox epidemic of 1789. Some mounted violent resistance to the British settlers. Lachlan Macquarie became Governor in 1810 and started an initiative to "civilise, Christianise, and educate" indigenous children by removing them from their clans and placing them with British households.


Macquarie did make the most of less than ideal circumstances. His first task was to restore order after the Rum Rebellion of 1808 against the previous Governor. Conditions in the colony were not conducive to the development of a thriving new metropolis, but the more regular arrival of ships and the beginnings of maritime trade (such as wool) helped to lessen the burden of isolation. Macquarie undertook an extensive building programme of some 265 separate works. Roads, bridges, wharves, and public buildings were constructed using convict labour and come 1822 the town had banks, markets, and well-established thoroughfares. Part of Macquarie's effort to transform the colony was his authorisation for convicts to re-enter society as free citizens.


Modern development

The 1840s marked the end of convict transportation to Sydney, which by this time had a population of 35,000.  The municipal council of Sydney was incorporated in 1842 and became Australia's first city. Gold was discovered in the regions around the town in 1851 and with it came thousands of people seeking a new life.  Sydney's population reached 200,000 by 1871.  The Commonwealth of Australia was inaugurated on 1 January 1901 and Sydney, with a population of 481,000, became the capital of New South Wales.  The Great Depression had a severe effect on Sydney's economy, as it did with most cities throughout the industrial world. For much of the 1930s up to one in three breadwinners was unemployed. Construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge served to alleviate some of the effects of the economic downturn by employing 1,400 men between 1924 and 1932. The population continued to boom despite the Depression and reached 1 million in 1925.

Australia entered World War II in 1939 and Sydney experienced a surge in industrial development to meet the needs of a wartime economy. Far from mass unemployment, there were now labour shortages and women becoming active in male roles. Sydney's harbour came under direct attack from Japanese submarines on 1 June 1942. After the war the cultural and economic pillars of Sydney flourished. There were 1.7 million people living in the city by 1950 and almost 3 million by 1975. Sydney's iconic Opera House opened in 1973 and became a World Heritage Site in 2007.  The 2000 Summer Olympics were held in Sydney and became known as the "best Olympic Games ever" by the President of the International Olympic Committee.  A strong rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne that began in the 1850s still exists to this day. Sydney exceeded Melbourne's population in the early twentieth century and remains Australia's largest city.






A Direct North General View of Sydney Cove, by convict artist Thomas Watling in 1794




Aerial view of Sydney from May 2012 looking east

 Satellite image looking west with Botany Bay on the left and Port Jackson on the right

Sydney Harbour in 1932


Urban structure

View of Sydney from Sydney Tower

Sydney CBD panorama from Taronga Zoo, North Sydney





The atrium of 1 Bligh Street, a contemporary example of Sydney's architecture

The residential areas of inner Sydney mostly contain Victorian-style terraces






Hyde Park in 1932



Sydney's central business district, seen from the Balmain wharf at dusk.

Commonwealth Bank Martin Place




Tourism and international education




Sydney hosted over 2.8 million international visitors in 2013 or nearly half of all international visits to Australia.These visitors spent 59 million nights in the city and a total of $5.9 billion The countries of origin in descending order were China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, South Korea,Japan, Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong, and India. The city also received 8.3 million domestic overnight visitors in 2013 who spent a total of $6 billion..Sydney has been ranked amongst the top fifteen cities in the world for tourism every year since 2000.

26,700 workers in the City of Sydney were directly employed by tourism in 2011. There were 480,000 visitors and 27,500 people staying overnight each day in 2012. On average, the tourism industry contributes $36 million to the city's economy per day. Popular destinations include the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour BridgeWatsons Bay ..The RocksSydney TowerDarling Harbour, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Royal National Park, the Australian Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales Taronga ZooBondi Beach, the Blue Mountains, and Sydney Olympic Park.


Sydney is the highest ranking city in the world for international students. More than 50,000 international students study at the city's universities and a further 50,000 study at its vocational and English language schools. International education contributes $1.6 billion to the local economy and creates demand for 4,000 local jobs each year.



Tourists visiting the Sydney Opera House




Science, art, and history



The Australian Museum opened in Sydney in 1857 with the purpose of collecting and displaying the natural wealth of the colony. It remains Australia's oldest natural history museum. In 1995 the Museum of Sydney opened on the site of the first Government House. It recounts the story of the city's development. Other museums based in Sydney include the Powerhouse Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum.  In 1866 then Queen Victoria gave her assent to the formation of The Royal Art Society Of New South Wales. The Society exists "for the encouragement of studies and investigations in science, art, literature, and philosophy". It is based in a terrace house in Darlington owned by The University of Sydney. The  Sydney Observatory building was constructed in 1859 and used for astronomy and meteorology research until 1982 before being converted into a museum.

The Museum of Contemporary Art was opened in 1991 and occupies an Art Deco building in Circular Quay. Its collection was founded in the 1940s by artist and art collector John Power and has been maintained by the University of Sydney. Sydney's other significant art institution is the Art Gallery of New South Wales which coordinates the coveted Archibald Prize for portraiture. Contemporary art galleries are found in Waterloo Surry HillsDarlinghurstPaddington,ChippendaleNewtown, and Woollahra.




 The  Art Gallery of New South Wales, located in The Domain, is the fourth largest public gallery in Australia





Sydney's first commercial theatre opened in 1832 and nine more had commenced performances by the late 1920s. The live medium lost much of its popularity to cinema during the Great Depression before experiencing a revival after World War II.  Prominent theatres in the city today include State TheatreTheatre RoyalSydney Theatre, The Wharf Theatre, and Capitol Theatre.Sydney Theatre Company maintains a roster of local, classical, and international plays. It occasionally features Australian theatre icons such as David WilliamsonHugo Weaving, and Geoffrey Rush. The city's other prominent theatre companies are New Theatre Belvoir St Theatre, and Griffin Theatre Company

The Sydney Opera House is the home of Opera Australia and Sydney Symphony. It has staged over 100,000 performances and received 100 million visitors since opening in 1973.  Two other important performance venues in Sydney are Town Hall and the City Recital Hall. The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is located adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens and serves the Australian music community through education and its biannual Australian Music Examinations Board exams.

Filmmaking in Sydney was quite prolific until the 1920s when spoken films were introduced and American productions gained dominance in Australian cinema. Fox Studios Australia commenced production in Sydney in 1998. Successful films shot in Sydney since then include The MatrixMission: Impossible IIMoulin Rouge!Australia, and The Great Gatsby. The National Institute of Dramatic Art is based in Sydney and has several famous alumni such as Mel GibsonJudy DavisBaz Luhrmann, and Cate Blanchett.

Sydney is the host of several festivals throughout the year. The city's New Year's Eve celebrations are the largest in Australia. The Royal Easter Show is held every year at Sydney Olympic Park Sydney Festival is Australia's largest arts festival. Big Day Out is a travelling rock music festival that originated in Sydney. The city's two largest film festivals are Sydney Film Festival and TropfestVivid Sydney is an annual outdoor exhibition of art installations, light projections, and music. Sydney hosts the Australian Fashion Week in autumn. The Sydney Mardi Gras has commenced each February since 1979. Sydney's Chinatown has had numerous locations since the 1850s. It moved from George Street to Campbell Street to its current setting in Dixon Street in 1980. The Spanish Quarter is based in Liverpool Street whilst Little Italy is located in Stanley Street. Popular nightspots are found at Kings Cross Oxford StCircular Quay, and The Rocks . The Star is the city's only casino and is situated around Darling Harbour.






The  Sydney Conservatorium of Music is one of the oldest and most prestigious music schools in Australia




Education became a proper focus for the colony from the 1870s when public schools began to form and schooling became compulsory.  The population of Sydney is now highly educated. 90% of working age residents have completed some schooling and 57% have completed the highest level of school. 1,390,703 people were enrolled in an educational institution in 2011 with 45.1% of these attending school and 16.5% studying at a university. Undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications are held by 22.5% of working age Sydney residents and 40.2% of working age residents of the City of Sydney.  The most common fields of tertiary qualification are commerce (22.8%), engineering (13.4%), society and culture (10.8%), health (7.8%), and education (6.6%).

There are six public universities based in Sydney: The University of Sydney, the University of Technology,  The University of New South Wales Macquarie University, the University of Western Sydney and the Australian Catholic University. Four public universities maintain secondary campuses in the city: The University of Notre Dame Australia, the University of Wollongong Curtin University of Technology, and the University of Newcastle. 5.2% of residents of Sydney are attending a university. The University of Sydney was established in 1850 and remains the oldest university in Australia. It has been ranked third in Australia and as high as 37 in the world, in the top 0.3%. The city's other universities were all founded after World War II. On the same scale the University of New South Wales ranked 48, Macquarie University ranked 254, and the University of Technology ranked 264.

Sydney has public, denominational, and independent schools. 7.8% of Sydney residents are attending primary school and 6.4% are enrolled in secondary school. There are 935 public preschool, primary, and secondary schools in Sydney that are administered by the New South Wales Department of Education. 14 of the 17 selective secondary schools in New South Wales are based in Sydney. Public vocational education and training in Sydney is run by TAFE New South Wales and began with the opening of the Sydney Technical College in 1878. It offered courses in areas such as mechanical drawing, applied mathematics, steam engines, simple surgery, and English grammar.  The College became the Sydney Institute in 1992 and now operates alongside its sister TAFE facilities the Northern Sydney Institute, theWestern Sydney Institute, and the South Western Sydney Institute. 2.4% of Sydney residents are enrolled in a TAFE course.



The University of Sydney is the oldest university in Australia


The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an important piece of transport infrastructure, carrying trains, buses, other motor vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians


The ANZAC Bridge, spanning Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background

Central Station's main concourse

Sydney Airport is located in close proximity to the city


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