Sydney is the largest city in Australia, and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney has a metropolitan area population of approximately 4.34 million and an area of approximately 12,000 square kilometres. Its inhabitants are called Sydneysiders, and Sydney is often called "the Harbour City", "the City of Villages" and "the Emerald City". It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflected in its role as a major destination for immigrants to Australia.
The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, commodore of the First Fleet. The city is built on low hills surrounding Sydney Harbour - an inlet of the Tasman Sea on Australia's south-east coast. It is home to the iconic Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and its beaches. The metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks, and contains many bays, rivers and inlets. Sydney has hosted major international sporting events, including the 1938 British Empire Games, 2000 Summer Olympics and the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
The city is surrounded by and is renowned for its inner city parks, such as Hyde Park, Royal Botanical Gardens and numerous national parks. This is a major factor, along with the stunning Sydney Harbour that has led to the city being considered one of the most stunningly beautiful in the world.
In the year ending March 2008, Sydney received 2.7 million international visitors. The most well known attractions include the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other attractions include Royal Botanical Gardens, Luna Park, the beaches and Sydney Tower.
Sydney also has several popular museums such as, the Australian Museum (natural history and anthropology), the Powerhouse Museum (science, technology and design), the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Most Sydney residents travel by car through the system of roads and motorways. The most important trunk routes in the urban area are the nine Metroads, which include the 110 km Sydney Orbital Network. Sydney is also served by extensive train, taxi, bus and ferry networks. Sydney has one privately operated light rail line, Metro Light Rail, running from Central Station to Lilyfield along a former goods train line. There is also the Metro Monorail, which runs in a loop around the main shopping district and Darling Harbour.
Sydney Airport, in the suburb of Mascot, is Sydney's main airport, and is one of the oldest continually operated airports in the world. The smaller Bankstown Airport mainly serves private and general aviation. There is a light aviation airfield at Camden. RAAF Base Richmond lies to the north-west of the city.
Sydney is home to some of Australia's most prominent educational institutions. The University of Sydney was established in 1850 and is Australia's oldest university. There are five other public universities located in Sydney: the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Western Sydney and the Australian Catholic University (two out of six campuses). Other universities which operate secondary campuses in Sydney include the University of Notre Dame Australia and the University of Wollongong.
There are four multi-campus government-funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes in Sydney, which provide vocational training at a tertiary level: the Sydney Institute of Technology, Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE, Western Sydney Institute of TAFE and South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE.
Shopping locations in the central business district include the Queen Victoria Building, the pedestrian mall on Pitt Street, and international luxury boutiques in the quieter, northern end of Castlereagh St. Oxford Street in Paddington and Crown Street, Woollahra are home to boutiques selling more niche products, and the main streets of Newtown and Enmore cater more towards students and alternative lifestyles.