In the space of two centuries, Sydney has transformed itself from a British penal colony to a thriving cosmopolitan metropolis, a financial capital of the Asia-Pacific region, and an international tourist center with a population of close to four million. Located near the southern end of Australia’s eastern coast, it is the largest city on the Australian continent, the capital of New South Wales, and one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. The city’s dominant feature has always been its stunning physical location on one of the world’s most beautiful harbors.
In the second half of the twentieth century, Sydney grew from a primarily Anglo-Saxon enclave to a multiethnic city whose cultural sophistication is symbolized by the unique outlines of its famous harbor-front opera house. The twenty-first century was ushered in dramatically with the 2000 Olympic Games, which spurred the city to reinvent itself yet again for a new millennium.