Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of 2.15 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centered on Brisbane, encompasses a population of more than 3 million. The Brisbane central business district stands on the original European settlement and is situated inside a bend of the Brisbane River, approximately 23 km (14 mi) from its mouth at Moreton Bay. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River valley between the bay and the Great Dividing Range. While the metropolitan area is governed by several municipalities, a large portion of central Brisbane is governed by the Brisbane City Council, which is by far Australia's largest Local Government Area by population. The demonym of Brisbane is Brisbanite.
Brisbane is named after the river on which it sits, which, in turn, was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. The first European settlement in Queensland was a penal colony at Redcliffe, north of the Brisbane central business district, in 1824. That settlement was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825. Free settlers were permitted from 1842. Brisbane was chosen as the capital when Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales in 1859.
The city played a central role in the Allied campaign during World War II as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur. Furthermore, Brisbane has hosted many large cultural and sporting events, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games, World Expo '88 and the final Goodwill Games in 2001. Brisbane is the largest economy between Sydney and Singapore, and as of 2008 is classified as a Global city. It was also rated the 16th most liveable city in the world in 2009 by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Prior to European settlement, the Brisbane area was inhabited by the Turrbal and Jagera people. They knew the area that is now the central business district as Mian-jin, meaning "place shaped as a spike". The Moreton Bay area was initially explored by Matthew Flinders. On 17 July 1799, Flinders landed at what is now known as Woody Point, which he named "Red Cliff Point", after the red-coloured cliffs visible from the bay. In 1823, Governor of New South Wales, Thomas Brisbane, instructed that a new northern penal settlement be developed, and an exploration party led by John Oxley further explored Moreton Bay.
Oxley discovered, named and explored the Brisbane River as far as Goodna, upstream from the Brisbane central business district. Oxley recommended Red Cliff Point for the new colony, reporting that ships could land at any tide and easily get close to the shore. The party settled in Redcliffe on 13 September 1824, under the command of Lieutenant Henry Miller with 14 soldiers (some with wives and children) and 29 convicts. However, this settlement was abandoned after a year, and the colony was moved to a site on the Brisbane River now known as North Quay, south, which offered a more reliable water supply. Chief Justice Forbes gave the new settlement the name of Edenglassie before it was named Brisbane. Non-convict European settlement of the Brisbane region commenced in 1838. German missionaries settled at Zions Hill, Nundah, as early as 1837, five years before Brisbane was officially declared a free settlement. The band consisted of two ministers, Christopher Eipper (1813–1894) and Carl Wilhelm Schmidt, and lay missionaries Haussmann, Johann Gottried Wagner, Niquet, Hartenstein, Zillman, Franz, Rode, Doege and Schneider. They were allocated 260 hectares and set about establishing the mission, which became known as the German Station.
Free settlers entered the area over the following five years and by the end of 1840 Robert Dixon began work on the first plan of Brisbane Town, in anticipation of future development. Queensland was proclaimed a separate colony on 6 June 1859, with Brisbane chosen as its capital, although it was not incorporated as a city until 1902.
Over twenty small municipalities and shires were amalgamated in 1925, to form the City of Brisbane, governed by the Brisbane City Council. 1930 was a significant year for Brisbane, with the completion of Brisbane City Hall, then the city's tallest building and the Shrine of Remembrance, in ANZAC Square, which has become Brisbane's main war memorial. These historic buildings along with the Story Bridge, opened in 1940 are key landmarks that help define the architectural character of the city.
Postwar Brisbane had developed a "big country town" stigma, an image the city's politicians and marketers were very keen to remove. In the late 1950s an anonymous poet known as The Brisbane Bard generated much attention on the city which helped to shake this stigma. Despite steady growth, Brisbane's development was punctuated by infrastructure problems. The State government under Joh Bjelke-Petersen began a major program of change and urban renewal, beginning with the central business district and inner suburbs. Trams in Brisbane were a popular mode of public transport, until the network was closed in 1969, leaving Melbourne as the last Australian city to operate a tram network. The 1974 Brisbane flood was a major disaster which temporarily crippled the city. During this era, Brisbane grew and modernised rapidly becoming a destination of interstate migration. Some of Brisbane's popular landmarks were lost, including the Bellevue Hotel in 1979 and Cloudland in 1982, demolished in controversial circumstances by the Deen Brothers demolition crew. Major public works included the Riverside Expressway, the Gateway Bridge, and later, the redevelopment of South Bank, starting with the Queensland Art Gallery.
After two decades of record population growth, Brisbane was again hit by a major flood in January 2011. The Brisbane River did not reach the same height as the previous 1974 flood but still caused extensive damage and disruption to the city.