Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. According to the 2011 census, Adelaide has a population of 1.23 million. The demonym "Adelaidean" is used in reference to the city and its residents. Adelaide is north of the Fleurieu Peninsula, on the Adelaide Plains between the Gulf St Vincent and the low-lying Mount Lofty Ranges which surround the city. Adelaide stretches 20 km (12 mi) from the coast to the foothills, and 90 km (56 mi) from Gawler at its northern extent to Sellicks Beach in the south.
Named in honour of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, queen consort to King William IV, the city was founded in 1836 as the planned capital for a freely settled British province in Australia. Colonel William Light, one of Adelaide's founding fathers, designed the city and chose its location close to the River Torrens in the area originally inhabited by the Kaurna people. Light's design set out Adelaide in a grid layout, interspaced by wide boulevards and large public squares, and entirely surrounded by parkland. Early Adelaide was shaped by religious freedom and a commitment to political progressivism and civil liberties, which led to the moniker "City of Churches".
As South Australia's seat of government and commercial centre, Adelaide is the site of many governmental and financial institutions. Most of these are concentrated in the city centre along the cultural boulevard of North Terrace, King William Street and in various districts of the metropolitan area. Today, Adelaide is noted for and sporting events, its food, wine and culture, its long beachfronts, and its large defence and manufacturing sectors. It ranks highly in terms of liveability, being listed in the Top 10 of The Economist's World's Most Liveable Cities index in 2010 and being ranked the most liveable city in Australia by the Property Council of Australia in 2011 and again in 2012.
Before European settlement
South Australia was officially proclaimed as a new British colony on 28 December 1836, near The Old Gum Tree in what is now the suburb of Glenelg North. The event is commemorated in South Australia as Proclamation Day. The site of the colony's capital was surveyed and laid out by Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of South Australia, through the design made by the architect George Strickland Kingston. In 1823, Light had fondly written of the Sicilian city of Catania: "The two principal streets cross each other at right angles in the square in the direction of north and south and east and west. They are wide and spacious and about a mile long", and this became the basis for the plan of Adelaide. Light chose, not without opposition, a site on rising ground close to the River Torrens, which was the chief early water supply for the fledgling colony. "Light's Vision", as it has been termed, has meant that the initial design of Adelaide required little modification as the settlement grew and prospered.
Adelaide was established as a planned colony of free immigrants, promising civil liberties and freedom from religious persecution, based upon the ideas of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Wakefield had read accounts of Australian settlement while in prison in London for attempting to abduct an heiress, and realised that the eastern colonies suffered from a lack of available labour, due to the practice of giving land grants to all arrivals. Wakefield's idea was for the Government to survey and sell the land at a rate that would maintain land values high enough to be unaffordable for labourers and journeymen. Funds raised from the sale of land were to be used to bring out working class emigrants, who would have to work hard for the monied settlers to ever afford their own land. As a result of this policy, Adelaide does not share the convict settlement history of other Australian cities like Sydney, New South Wales; Brisbane, Queensland and Hobart, Tasmania.
As it was believed that in a colony of free settlers there would be little crime, no provision was made for a gaol in Colonel Light's 1837 plan. However, by mid-1837 the South Australian Register was warning of escaped convicts from New South Wales, and tenders for a temporary gaol were sought. Following a burglary, a murder, and two attempted murders in Adelaide during March 1838, Governor Hindmarsh created the South Australian Police Force (now named South Australia Police) in April 1838 under 21-year-old Henry Inman. The first Sheriff, Mr Samuel Smart, was wounded during a robbery, and on 2 May 1838 one of the offenders, Michael Magee, became the first person to be hanged in South Australia. William Baker Ashton was appointed Governor of the temporary goal in 1839, and in 1840 George Strickland Kingston was commissioned to design Adelaide's new Gaol. Construction of Adelaide Gaol commenced in 1841.
Adelaide's early history was wrought by economic uncertainty and incompetent leadership. The first governor of South Australia, John Hindmarsh, clashed frequently with others, in particular with the Resident Commissioner, James Hurtle Fisher. The rural area surrounding Adelaide was surveyed by Light in preparation to sell a total of over of land. Adelaide's early economy started to get on its feet in 1838 with the arrival of livestock from New South Wales and Tasmania. Wool production provided an early basis for the South Australian economy. Light's survey was completed in this period, and land was promptly offered for sale to early colonists. By 1860, wheat farms had been established from Encounter Bay in the south to Clare in the north.
Governor Gawler took over from Hindmarsh in late 1838 and, despite being under orders from the Select Committee on South Australia in Britain not to undertake any public works, promptly oversaw construction of a governor's house, the Adelaide Gaol, police barracks, a hospital, a customs house and a wharf at Port Adelaide. In addition, houses for public officials and missionaries, and outstations for police and surveyors were also constructed during Gawler's governorship. Adelaide had also become economically self-sufficient during this period, but at heavy cost: as a result of Gawler's public works the colony was heavily in debt and relied on bail-outs from London to stay afloat. Gawler was recalled and replaced by Governor Grey in 1841. Grey slashed public expenditure against heavy opposition, although its impact was negligible at this point: silver was discovered in Glen Osmond that year, agriculture was well underway, and other mines sprung up all over the state, aiding Adelaide's commercial development. The city exported meat, wool, wine, fruit and wheat by the time Grey left in 1845, contrasting with a low point in 1842 when one-third of Adelaide houses were abandoned.
Trade links with the rest of the Australian states were established with the Murray River being successfully navigated in 1853 by Francis Cadell, an Adelaide resident. South Australia became a self-governing colony in 1856 with the ratification of a new constitution by the British parliament. Secret ballots were introduced, and a bicameral parliament was elected on 9 March 1857, by which time 109,917 people lived in the province.
In 1860 the Thorndon Park reservoir was opened, finally providing an alternative water source to the now turbid River Torrens. In 1867 gas street lighting was implemented, the University of Adelaide was founded in 1874, the South Australian Art Gallery opened in 1881 and the Happy Valley Reservoir opened in 1896. In the 1890s Australia was affected by a severe economic depression, ending a hectic era of land booms and tumultuous expansionism. Financial institutions in Melbourne and banks in Sydney closed. The national fertility rate fell and immigration was reduced to a trickle. The value of South Australia's exports nearly halved. Drought and poor harvests from 1884 compounded the problems, with some families leaving for Western Australia. Adelaide was not as badly hit as the larger gold-rush cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and silver and lead discoveries at Broken Hill provided some relief. Only one year of deficit was recorded, but the price paid was retrenchments and lean public spending. Wine and copper were the only industries not to suffer a downturn.
Electric street lighting was introduced in 1900 and electric trams were transporting passengers in 1909. 28,000 men were sent to fight in World War I. Adelaide enjoyed a post-war boom but, with the return of droughts, entered the Great Depression of the 1930s, later returning to prosperity under strong government leadership. Secondary industries helped reduce the state's dependence on primary industries. World War II brought industrial stimulus and diversification to Adelaide under the Playford Government, which advocated Adelaide as a safe place for manufacturing due to its less vulnerable location. Seventy thousand men and women enlisted and shipbuilding was expanded at the nearby port of Whyalla.
The South Australian Government in this period built on former wartime manufacturing industries. International manufacturers like General Motors Holden and Chrysler made use of these factories around Adelaide, completing its transformation from an agricultural service centre to a 20th-century city. A pipeline from Mannum brought River Murray water to Adelaide in 1954 and an airport opened at West Beach in 1955. An assisted migration scheme brought 215,000 immigrants of many nationalities, mainly European, to South Australia between 1947 and 1973. Flinders University and the Flinders Medical Centre were established in the 1960s at Bedford Park, South of the City.
The Dunstan Governments of the 1970s saw something of an Adelaide 'cultural revival' – establishing a wide array of social reforms and overseeing the city becoming a centre of the arts, building upon the biennial "Adelaide Festival of Arts" which commenced in 1960. Adelaide hosted the Formula One Australian Grand Prix between 1985 and 1996 on a street circuit in the city's east parklands, before tough economic conditions due to the state bank collapse. The 1991 State Bank collapse plunged both Adelaide and South Australia into economic recession, and its effects lasted until 2004, when ratings agency Standard & Poor's reinstated South Australia's AAA credit rating. Recent years have seen the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercars race make use of sections of the former Formula One circuit. Adelaide's tallest building, built in 1988, was formerly known as the State Bank until the recession in 1991 and renamed the Santos Building up until 2006.