Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales, the most populous city in Australia. It is on Australia’s south-east coast, on the Tasman Sea. In June 2010 the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people. Inhabitants of Sydney are called Sydneysiders, comprising a cosmopolitan and international population.
The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Phillip, of the First Fleet, as a penal colony. The city is built on hills surrounding Port Jackson, which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour, where the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are prominent structures. The hinterland of the metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks, and the coastal regions feature many bays, rivers, inlets and beaches, including the famous Bondi and Manly beaches. Within the city are many parklands, including Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Sydney is a consistently high-ranking world city for quality of life. It has hosted multiple major international sporting events, including the 1938 British Empire Games (now known as the Commonwealth Games), the 2000 Summer Olympics and the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The main airport serving Sydney is Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport and its main port is Port Botany.
Sydney’s urban area is in a coastal basin, which is bordered by the Tasman Sea 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.
The urban area has nearly 70 harbour and ocean beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney’s urban area covers 1,687 km2 (651 sq mi) as of 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.
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 is well-endowed with open spaces and access to waterways, and has many natural areas botanic gardens and parks. Within the CBD are the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Hyde Park, The Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The metropolitan area also contains prominent parks and gardens, such as the Auburn Botanical Gardens, and national parks, including the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and several parks in Sydney’s far west which are part of the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains Area.
The Domain was established by Governor Arthur Phillip, just six months after the arrival of the first fleet. Originally established as being exclusive to Governors, it was opened to the public in the 1830s. Hyde Park was dedicated on 13 October 1810 by Governor Macquarie for the “recreation and amusement of the inhabitants of the town and a field of exercises for the troops”. Hyde Park is named in honour of the original Hyde Park in London, England. Containing over 580 trees, it is located in the eastern section of the inner city district.
To celebrate the first 100 years of European settlement, Centennial Park was dedicated by Sir Henry Parkes in January 1888. It is the largest open space in the city, occupying 220 hectares. Similarly, Bicentennial Park was opened on 1 January 1988 to commemorate 200 years since European settlement. 1988’s Bicentennial celebrations also saw the opening of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, designed by the City of Sydney’s Chinese sister city Guangzhou.
In the year ending 2012, Sydney received a total of 10.5 million international and domestic visitors, which injected $11.7 billion into the state of New South Wales’ economy. The most well-known attractions include the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other attractions include Royal Botanical Gardens, Luna Park, Darling Harbour, some 40 beaches and Sydney Tower. The New South Wales Government operates two programs relevant to Sydney as part of the NSW Tourism Strategy, they are: Brand Sydney (to revitalise and strengthen the image and appeal of Sydney) and Visit Sydney (to increase promotion of Sydney as a tourist destination through a strengthened dedicated business unit within Destination NSW).