For other meanings, see Sydney (disambiguation), or Sidney.
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Sydney Harbour looking south from the vicinity of the Sydney Harbour Bridge towards the CBD skyline; the Opera House is visible in the background on the left.

Sydney is the capital city of the Australian state of New South Wales and Australia's largest and oldest city (founded in 1788). It is the largest city in the southern hemisphere, in terms of area. With a metropolitan area population of 4.7 million and a population of approximately 170,000 people in the city proper (known as the "city of Sydney"), the Sydney metropolis is the larger of the two main financial, transport, trade and cultural centres of Australia (the other being Melbourne, Sydney's long term rival to the title of pre-eminent Australian city).

Sydney is a significant global and domestic tourist destination and is regularly declared to be one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the world, admired for its harbour, beautiful coastline, warm and pleasant climate and cosmopolitan culture. Sydney significantly raised its global profile in recent years as the host city of the 2000 Summer Olympics. The city's name is pronounced "SID-nee", IPA: . A resident of Sydney is popularly known as a "Sydneysider".



Image of Sydney taken by NASA
Image of Sydney taken by NASA
Location of Sydney in relation to other major Australian cities
Location of Sydney in relation to other major Australian cities

Sydney is located in a coastal basin between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Blue Mountains to the west. Sydney features the largest natural harbour in the world, Port Jackson, and also enjoys more than 70 beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney's urban area of 1,687 sq km is similar in size to Greater London, but has half that city's population. The metropolitan area (Sydney Statistical Division) has 12,145 sq km, but much of this area is national park and other wilderness.

Sydney can be divided into two geographical regions: the Cumberland Plain, a relatively flat or rolling region lying south and west of the harbour, and the Hornsby Plateau, an elevated (up to 200 m) plateau north of the harbour that is dissected by steep, forested valleys. The Cumberland Plain developed first, and the oldest parts of the city are located in the flat areas. The Hornsby Plateau, known as the North Shore, was slower to develop because of its rough topography, and was mostly a quiet backwater until the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built, linking it to the city south of the harbour. Thereafter the North Shore has become widely upper-middle class suburban in character, although it has developed its own high-rise business districts at Chatswood and North Sydney.

The central business district (CBD) extends southwards for about 2 km from the point of first European settlement, Sydney Cove. The CBD is an area of very densely concentrated skyscrapers and other buildings, interspersed by several parks such as Wynyard Park and Hyde Park. The CBD is bounded on the east side by a chain of parkland that extends from Hyde Park through The Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens to Farm Cove on Sydney Harbour. The west side is bounded by Darling Harbour, a popular tourist precinct. Central Station marks the southern end of the CBD. George St is the Sydney CBD's main north-south thoroughfare. The streets run on a slightly warped grid pattern in the southern CBD, but in the older northern CBD the streets are less logical, reflecting their random placement in the early days of the city. (See the City of Sydney article for more detail.)

Although the CBD dominated the city's business and cultural life in the early days, significant other business/cultural districts have developed since World War II, in a radial pattern. As a result of business development in other districts, the proportion of white-collar jobs located in the CBD declined from more than 60% at the end of World War II to less than 30% in 2004. The four most significant other business districts are Parramatta in the central-west, Liverpool to the southwest, Chatswood to the north and Hurstville to the south.

Although Sydney does not suffer from cyclones, and the earthquake risk is considered very low, many areas of Sydney bordering bushland have experienced bushfires, including ones in 1994 and 2002. The city is also subject to infrequent severe hail storms and wind storms (maybe once every 5 to 10 years, although these appear to be increasing). In recent years, the city has also faced water shortages. Warragamba Dam levels are falling to the extent that the state government has imposed a range of prohibitions intended to reduce consumption. The El Nio Southern Oscillation plays an important role in determining weather patterns, with drought and bushfire on the one hand, and storms and flooding on the other being associated with the two opposite phases of the oscillation.


Main article: History of Sydney

The area surrounding Sydney Harbour (called Warrane by the aborigines) has been inhabited by Aboriginal tribes, notably the Eora and Cadigal, for at least 40,000 years. Although urbanisation has destroyed most evidence of these settlements (such as shell middens), there are still rock carvings in several locations. European interest arose with the sighting of Botany Bay (now a southern suburb of Sydney) in 1770 by Captain James Cook. Under instruction from the British government, a convict settlement was founded by Arthur Phillip in 1788. Most convicts came from Ireland and England. A great number were in fact not real criminals but were simply sent to the new colony as a harsh punishment by the ruling aristocracy. (See the First Fleet article for more information.) Phillip first landed at Botany Bay, but found it unsatisfactorily shallow for a permanent settlement. After a brief sail north, Phillip founded the colony at Sydney Cove on Port Jackson (the correct name for Sydney Harbour).

Phillip originally named the colony "New Albion", but for some uncertain reason the colony acquired the name "Sydney", after the (then) British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney (Viscount Sydney from 1789). This is possibly due to the fact that Lord Sydney issued the charter authorising Phillip to establish a colony. Prisoners were quickly set to work to build the settlement and by 1822 the town had banks, markets, well-established thoroughfares and an organised constabulary; by 1847, convicts accounted for only 3.2 per cent of the population.

Each day, ships would arrive from Ireland and England with immigrants looking to start a new life in a new country. The first of several gold rushes was in 1851, since which time the port of Sydney has seen many waves of people from around the world. With industrialisation Sydney expanded rapidly, and by the early 20th century it had a population well in excess of one million. Throughout the 20th century Sydney continued to expand with various new waves of European and (later) Asian immigration, resulting in its highly cosmopolitan atmosphere of the present day.

Historical population

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Sydney's icons: the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

A majority of Sydneysiders are of British and Irish background. More recent arrivals have included Italians, Greeks, Lebanese and Asians.

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The Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminated under New Year Fireworks 2005

Timeline of events

Government and politics

There is no overall governing body for the Sydney metropolitan area, unlike cities of similar sizes, particularly in the United States. There is a directly elected Lord Mayor of Sydney and an elected council, but these are responsible only for the City of Sydney, which takes in the central business area and some adjoining inner suburbs. The Lord Mayor, however, is sometimes treated as a representative of the whole city.

The rest of the metropolitan area is divided into municipalities (see list of regions below). As is common in major metropolitan areas of most Australian states, these municipalities all have elected councils and are responsible for a range of functions delegated to them by the New South Wales state government. 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 fraction of 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 electoral boundary of the City of Sydney local council area (mayoralty) have been significantly altered by state governments on at least four occasions since 1945, with advantageous effect to the governing party in the New South Wales Parliament at the time. As of 2005, the councils of the City of Sydney and the City of South Sydney are merged.


A view of Sydney Harbour, with the Sydney Opera House on the left, the central business district in the image centre and Sydney Harbour Bridge on the right
A view of Sydney Harbour, with the Sydney Opera House on the left, the central business district in the image centre and Sydney Harbour Bridge on the right

The city's most famous landmarks are the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, both of which are located on Sydney Harbour. Sydney's principal river is the Parramatta River, which enters Sydney Harbour from the west. While the Harbour is famous for its racing yachts, the Boxing Day start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and 18ft skiffs, the river is used for dinghy sailing and rowing as well as recreational boating, racing small yachts, recreational fishing, and occasional Dragon Boat racing. Another famous landmark is the Sydney Tower (also known as Centrepoint Tower or the AMP Tower) which is the second tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Darling Harbour is also a popular tourist attraction. Sydney also has an interesting underground railway system (see also CityRail), one of only two in the country (Melbourne has the other). The Sydney Cricket Ground, which retains several beautiful 1920s-era grandstands, hosts several international cricket matches and the Sydney Swans football team. The old adjacent showgrounds, for many years home to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, have been redeveloped as 20th Century Fox's large Sydney studios. Sydney Olympic Park, after holding a large proportion of the major events in the 2000 Olympic Games, now regularly hosts sporting and cultural events, especially at Telstra Stadium. Sydney is also known for the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

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Bondi beach

Sydney is home to the Australian Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of Australia. It also has 6 universities: the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, the University of Technology, Sydney, the University of Western Sydney, and two of the campuses of the Australian Catholic University.

Tourist attractions

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Sydney leads the world in one of the first major New Year's Eve celebrations each year

Sydney is noted for its tourist attractions, including:


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Government House in the Botanic gardens

Main article: Culture of Sydney

Sydney boasts a full roster of musical, theatrical and artistic activity throughout the year, from the formal - including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Sydney Theatre Company, the Sydney Dance Company, and the Archibald Prize - to festivals, including the Sydney Festival, a celebration of free performances throughout January. Many internationally known Australian rock bands have had their conception in Sydney, from Midnight Oil to INXS.

Sydney also has been home to many visual artists, from the lush pastoralism of Lloyd Rees's depictions of Sydney Harbour to Jeffrey Smart's portraits of bleak urban alienation. Sydney has four large and many smaller museums. The biggest are the Australian Museum (natural history and anthropology), Powerhouse Museum (science, technology and design), Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Sydney is also home to several large ethnic communities throughout the greater metropolitan area, and a significant gay community who host the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras along Oxford Street. To encourage sharing of cultural, trade and tourist links, the City of Sydney Council maintains sister city relations with the cities San Francisco, Nagoya, Wellington, Portsmouth, Guangzhou, and Florence.


Games of the XXVII Olympiad
Games of the XXVII Olympiad

Sydney is arguably the major Rugby League centre of the world. It is the headquarters of Australian Rugby League and home to 9 of the 15 National Rugby League teams.

Sydney was host to the 2000 Summer Olympics.


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Monorail above King Street, Sydney

Sydney is served by extensive train, bus and ferry networks. Sydney trains are run by CityRail, a corporation of the New South Wales State Government. Trains run as suburban commuter rail services in the outer suburbs, then converge in a frequent metro-like service in tunnels under the central business district (CBD). Buses serve the whole metropolitan area. In the city and inner suburbs the state-owned Sydney Buses has a monopoly. Services are frequent, even outside peak hours. In the outer suburbs, service is divided up between many private bus companies. These bus services are often criticised for their relative scarcity of service and sometimes complete lack of off-peak service. Sydney Ferries, another state government-owned organisation, runs extensive commuter and tourist ferry services on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.

Sydney has one light rail line, the Metro Light Rail, running from Central Station to Lilyfield. There is also a monorail which runs in a loop around the main shopping district and Darling Harbour.

Sydney is serviced by an extensive network of freeways and tollways (known as motorways) and roads. The most important trunk routes in the metropolitan area form the Metroad system.

Kingsford Smith International Airport, located in the suburb of Mascot, is Sydney's main airport. The smaller Bankstown Airport mainly serves private and general aviation. There are light aviation airfields at Hoxton Park and Camden. RAAF Base Richmond lies to the north-west of the city.

Regions and suburbs

Regions of Sydney

The extensive area covered by metropolitan Sydney is formally divided into more than 300 suburbs (for addressing and postal purposes), and formally administered by about 38 separate local government areas (in addition to the extensive responsibilities of the New South Wales State government and its agencies). In addition, there are a number of regional descriptions which are used informally to conveniently describe large sections of the metropolitan area. However it should be noted that there are many suburbs which are not conveniently described by any of the following informal regional categories.

Sydney suburbs and satellite cities

Metropolitan Sydney cover about 2000 square kilometers, has 4.5 million inhabitants and about 300 suburbs. There are about 38 local government areas in the Sydney region, each containing several suburbs. See Local Government Areas of New South Wales. The City of Sydney covers a fairly small area comprising downtown Sydney and neighbouring inner-city neighbourhoods.

Local government areas

the City of Sydney, as well as:

This is a partial list of Sydney suburbs and satellite cities. For a complete suburbs listing see List of Sydney suburbs.

Selected suburbs

Main articles: List of Sydney suburbs, Category:Suburbs of Sydney

Sydney localities

See also

External links

Capital cities of Australia
National NSW NT Qld SA Tas Vic WA
Canberra Sydney Darwin Brisbane Adelaide Hobart Melbourne Perth
Other Australian cities

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