Sydney: History

The Cultural Hub of Australia's East Coast

Sydney History

Sydney was originally founded as a penal colony in 1788 by Captain Arthur Phillip and was the first permanent British settlement to be founded in Australia. It grew slowly over time until the unearthing of gold in the 1850's brought waves of settlers to New South Wales and stimulated large-scale economic development. After the colony achieved self-government in 1855, Sydney became the chief outlet for Australia’s agricultural and mineral products. By 1900, the metropolitan area had amassed a population of almost half a million. Throughout the 20th century, especially in the decades immediately following World War II, Sydney continued to quickly expand as large numbers of European and later Asian immigrants began to populate the metropolitan area. The culture brought about by the influx of immigrants became a major factor in the city's diverse and highly cosmopolitan atmosphere. Rapid growth continued, the greatest boom coming with large-scale industrialization in the 1950's. Sydney was also famously site of the 2000 Summer Olympic Games and is now one of the most multicultural cities in the world with a population of around 4 million, roughly one-fifth of Australia's total.