Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds one of the world's largest natural harbours, and sprawls towards the Blue Mountains to the west. Residents are together known as "Sydneysiders" and constitute the most multicultural city in Australia and one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
The area around Sydney has been inhabited by indigenous Australians for tens of millennia. The first British settlers arrived in 1788 with Captain Arthur Phillip and founded Sydney as a penal colony. Successive colonial Governors assisted to transform the settlement into a thriving and independent metropolis. Since convict transportation ended in the mid 1800s the city has become a global cultural and economic centre. The population of Sydney at the time of the was 4.39 million. About 1.5 million of this total were born overseas and represent many different countries from around the world. There are more than 250 different languages spoken in Sydney and about one-third of residents speak a language other than English at home.
Sydney has an advanced market economy with strengths in finance, manufacturing, and tourism. Its gross regional product was $337 billion in 2013 making it a larger economy than countries such as Denmark, Singapore, and Hong Kong. There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational corporations in Sydney and the city is promoted as Asia Pacific's leading financial hub. In addition to hosting events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics, millions of tourists come to Sydney each year to see the city's landmarks. Its natural features include Sydney Harbour, the Royal National Park, Bondi Beach, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Man-made attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are also well known to international visitors.
The original inhabitants of Sydney were indigenous Australians. Radiocarbon dating suggests that they have occupied the area in and around Sydney for at least 30,000 years. The earliest British settlers called them Eora people. "Eora" is the term the indigenous population used to explain their origins upon first contact with the British. Its literal meaning is "from this place". Prior to the arrival of the British there were 4,000 to 8,000 native people in Sydney from as many as 29 different clans. Sydney Cove from Port Jackson to Petersham was inhabited by the Cadigal clan. The principal language groups were Darug, Guringai, and Dharawal. The earliest Europeans to visit the area noted that the indigenous people were conducting activities such as camping and fishing, using trees for bark and food, collecting shells, and cooking fish.
Urban development has destroyed much of the evidence of ancient indigenous culture, though some rock art and engravings can still be found in places such as Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The first meeting between the native people and the British occurred on 29 April 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula and encountered the Gweagal clan. He noted in his journal that they were confused and somewhat hostile towards the foreign visitors. Cook was on a mission of exploration and was not commissioned to start a settlement. He spent a short time collecting food and conducting scientific observations before continuing further north along the east coast of Australia and claiming the new land he had discovered for Britain.
Britain had for a long time been sending its convicts across the Atlantic to the American colonies. That trade was ended with the Declaration of Independence by the United States in 1776. Overrun with prisoners, Britain decided in 1786 to found a new penal outpost in the territory discovered by Cook some 16 years earlier. Captain Arthur Phillip was charged with establishing the new colony. He led a fleet (known as the First Fleet) of 11 ships and about 850 convicts into Botany Bay on 18 January 1788, though deemed the location unsuitable due to poor soil and a lack of fresh water. He travelled a short way further north and arrived at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788. This was to be the location for the new colony. The official proclamation and naming of the colony happened on 7 February 1788. The name was at first to be Albion but Phillip decided on Sydney in recognition of Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney and his role in authorising the establishment of the settlement.
Macquarie did make the most of less than ideal circumstances. His first task was to restore order after the Rum Rebellion of 1808 against the previous Governor. Conditions in the colony were not conducive to the development of a thriving new metropolis, but the more regular arrival of ships and the beginnings of maritime trade (such as wool) helped to lessen the burden of isolation. Macquarie undertook an extensive building programme of some 265 separate works. Roads, bridges, wharves, and public buildings were constructed using convict labour and come 1822 the town had banks, markets, and well-established thoroughfares. Part of Macquarie's effort to transform the colony was his authorisation for convicts to re-enter society as free citizens.
The 1840s marked the end of convict transportation to Sydney, which by this time had a population of 35,000. The municipal council of Sydney was incorporated in 1842 and became Australia's first city. Gold was discovered in the regions around the town in 1851 and with it came thousands of people seeking a new life. Sydney's population reached 200,000 by 1871.
The Commonwealth of Australia was inaugurated on 1 January 1901 and Sydney, with a population of 481,000, became the capital of New South Wales. The Great Depression had a severe effect on Sydney's economy, as it did with most cities throughout the industrial world. For much of the 1930s up to one in three breadwinners was unemployed. Construction of the Harbour Bridge served to alleviate some of the effects of the economic downturn by employing 1,400 men between 1924 and 1932. The population continued to boom despite the Depression and reached 1 million in 1925.
Australia entered World War II in 1939 and Sydney experienced a surge in industrial development to meet the needs of a wartime economy. Far from mass unemployment, there were now labour shortages and women becoming active in male roles. Sydney's harbour came under direct attack from Japanese submarines on 1 June 1942. After the war the cultural and economic pillars of Sydney flourished. There were 1.7 million people living in the city by 1950 and almost 3 million by 1975. Sydney's iconic Opera House opened in 1973 and became a World Heritage Site in 2007. The 2000 Summer Olympics were held in Sydney and became known as the "best Olympic Games ever" by the President of the International Olympic Committee. A strong rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne that began in the 1850s still exists to this day. Sydney exceeded Melbourne's population in the early twentieth century and remains Australia's largest city.