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For other meanings, see Sydney (disambiguation), or Sidney.
Location of Sydney
Coordinates 33°52′ S 151°12′ E
Jurisdiction New South Wales
Area 12,145 km²
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
 • 2003
 • Density

4,198,543 (1st)

Sydney is the capital city of the Australian state of New South Wales and Australia's largest and oldest city (founded in 1788). With a metropolitan area population of 4.3 million and a population of approximately 146,297 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 is a significant global and domestic tourist destination and is regularly declared to be one of the most beautiful and liveable 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 Olympics. It is also the host of the World Youth Day 2008. The city's name is pronounced /ˈsɪd.niː/. A resident of Sydney is popularly known as a "Sydneysider".



Image of Sydney taken by NASA
Image of Sydney taken by NASA
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 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 located in a coastal basin between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Blue Mountains to the west. The city features the largest natural harbour in the world, Port Jackson, and more than 70 harbour and ocean beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney's urban area of 1,687 km² is similar to that of Greater London, although it has less than half of that city's population. The metropolitan area (Sydney Statistical Division) is 12,145 km², but much of this is national park and other unsettled land. The geographical coordinates of Sydney are 34 degrees south and 151 degrees east.

Sydney occupies two geographical regions: the Cumberland Plain, a relatively flat or rolling region lying to the south and west of the harbour, and the Hornsby Plateau, a plateau north of the harbour, up to 200 m in elevation, dissected by forested valleys. 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 hilly topography, and was mostly a quiet backwater until the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932, linking it to the rest of the city. Much of the North Shore is upper-middle class suburban in character, with high-rise business districts at Chatswood and North Sydney.

Sydney's central business district (CBD) extends southwards for about 2 km from Sydney Cove, the point of the first European settlement. Densely concentrated skyscrapers and other buildings are interspersed by several parks such as Wynyard and Hyde Parks. 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 the 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. In the southern CBD, the streets run on a slightly angled grid pattern; in the older northern CBD, the routes are less logical, reflecting the ad-hoc development of bullock tracks in the early days of the city. (See the Sydney central business district article for more detail.) Sydney's streets tend to be narrower than those of other major Australian cities, reflecting this ad hoc development.

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% at the end of World War II to less than 30% in 2004. The five most significant outer business districts are Parramatta in the central-west, Blacktown in the west, Liverpool in the southwest, Chatswood to the north, and Hurstville in the south.

Although the city does not suffer from cyclones or significant earthquakes, the El Niño Southern Oscillation plays an important role in determining Sydney's weather patterns: drought and bushfire on the one hand, and storms and flooding on the other, associated with the opposite phases of the oscillation. Many areas of the city bordering bushland have experienced bushfires, notably in 1994 and 2002. The city is subject to infrequent severe hail storms and wind storms.

In recent years, the city has faced water shortages. The levels in its main water storages, chief of which Warragamba Dam have fallen to such an extent that the state government has imposed a range of restrictions intended to reduce water consumption and is currently considering the introduction of a desalinated water plant.


Main article: History of Sydney
The Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminated under New Year Fireworks 2004/2005
The Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminated under New Year Fireworks 2004/2005

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 Lieutenant 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 (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% 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. Indeed, Sydney has the second highest immigrant population of any major world city, with 45% of the population being either migrants or children of migrants.

Historical population

Sydney's icons: the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, viewed from Mrs Macquaries Point in the Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney's icons: the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, viewed from Mrs Macquaries Point in the Royal Botanic Gardens

The majority of Sydneysiders are of British and Irish background. More recent arrivals have included Italians, Greeks, Lebanese, South Africans, Indians, Sudanese, Turks, Macedonians, Croatians, Serbs, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Timeline of events

Government and politics

There is no overall governing body for the Sydney metropolitan area. 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.


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

The city's most famous landmarks are 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.

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

Sydney is noted for its tourist attractions, including:

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


Main article: Culture of Sydney
Government House in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Government House in the Royal Botanic Gardens, 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, which include most notably The Easybeats, AC/DC, Midnight Oil and INXS.

Sydney has also been the inspiration for a very large number of Australian indie rock and mainstream pop songs The Executives' classic 1968 "Summer Hill Road", to Paul Kelly's many songs about Sydney including "From St.Kilda to Kings Cross" and "Have You Ever Seen Sydney From A 747 At Night", to [[John Kennedy's Love Gone Wrong" and songs like "King Street" and "Miracle in Marrickville" to The Mexican Spitfires "Sydney Town" and "Town Hall Steps" among many others. In fact in 2000 Sony Music released a compilation of 30 songs about Sydney called "Somewhere In Sydney" which featured the above mentioned artists as well as The Whitlams, Skyhooks, Cold Chisel, Roaring Jack and many others.

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.


Sydney has two daily newspapers. The Sydney Morning Herald is a centrist-to-left-leaning broadsheet, and is generally regarded as a "serious" paper, with extensive coverage of domestic and international news, culture and business. It is also the oldest newspaper in Australia, having been published regularly since 1831. The Herald's competitor, The Daily Telegraph, is a Murdoch-owned tabloid. It leans to the right and is generally sensationalist in its coverage. Both papers have tabloid counterparts published on Sunday, The Sun-Herald and the Sunday Telegraph respectively. Recently, an afternoon/evening tabloid owned by Murdoch known as the MX was added to Sydney's list of free newspapers, released at 15:00 and distributed every weekday at CBD railway stations and newsagents.

The three commercial television networks (Seven, Nine & Ten), as well as the government networks (ABC & SBS) each have a presence in Sydney. The ABC has a large headquarters and production facility in Ultimo. SBS have their studios at Artarmon. Foxtel and Optus both supply pay-TV over their cable services to most parts of the metropolitan area. Limited digital TV transmissions serve Sydney, including a program guide (Channel 4), ABC news, sport, and weather items (Channel 41), ChannelNSW: Government and Public Information (Channel 45), Australian Christian Channel (Channel 46), MacquarieBank TV (Channel 47), SportsTAB (Channel 48), Expo Home Shopping (Channel 49), and Federal parliamentary broadcasts (audio only).

Many AM and FM government, commercial and community radio services broadcast in the Sydney area. The local ABC radio station is 702 ABC Sydney (formerly 2BL). The talkback radio genre is dominated by the perennial rivals 2GB and 2UE. Vega (radio network) is a new talk radio station on the FM band. Popular music stations include Triple M, 2Day FM and Nova 96.9. Triple J, 2SER and FBi Radio provide a more independent, local and alternative sound. There are also a number of community stations broadcasting to a particular language group or local area.


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's most famous sports ground is the Sydney Cricket Ground, home to numerous sports being played for over a century, especially Cricket and Rugby.

Sydney hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics.


Monorail above King Street, Sydney
Monorail above King Street, Sydney

Sydney has a good mix of public and private transport, although in line with the "new world" (US, NZ, Canada, Australia), the car is predominent due to the city's sprawl, particularly in the west. Proper freeways were not built until the early 1980s, but since then the state government has embarked on an ambitious freeway building plan, most as tolled roads (motorways -- see below).

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). CityRail has been under fire because of sometimes unreliable train services. 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 was formerly served by an extensive tram network, which was closed progressively in the 1950's and 1960's.

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. The newly built Cross City Tunnel is a tunnel that runs underneath the Sydney CBD to the Eastern Suburbs. The tunnel has caused disputes because of the fees to use the tunnel.

Kingsford Smith International Airport, located in the suburb of Mascot, is Sydney's main airport, and the oldest continuously operating commercial airport in the world. 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

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). The City of Sydney itself covers a fairly small area comprising downtown Sydney and neighbouring inner-city suburbs. 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.

Regions of Sydney

Local government areas

the City of Sydney, as well as:

Selected suburbs and localities

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

See Also


"Leviathan: the unauthorised biography of Sydney" by John Birmingham, Vintage Books, 2000.

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