Canberra ( / ˈ kænbrə/ or / ˈ kænb ɛ rə/) is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney, and 660 km (410 mi) north-east of Melbourne. A resident of Canberra is known as a "Canberran". The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities. It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city. Following an international contest for the city's design, a blueprint by the Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913. The Griffins' plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centred around axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.
History Before European settlement, the area in which Canberra would eventually be constructed was seasonally inhabited by Indigenous Australians. Anthropologist Norman Tindale suggested the principal group occupying the region were the Ngunnawal people, while the Ngarigo lived immediately to the south of the ACT, The Wandandian to the east, the Walgulu also to the south, Gandangara people to the north, and Wiradjuri to the north west. Archaeological evidence of settlement in the region includes inhabited rock shelters, rock paintings and engravings, burial places, camps and quarry sites, and stone tools and arrangements. The evidence suggests human habitation in the area for at least 21,000 years.
European exploration and settlement started in the Canberra area as early as the 1820s. There were four expeditions between 1820 and 1824. White settlement of the area probably dates from 1824, when a homestead or station was built on what is now the Acton peninsula by stockmen employed by Joshua John Moore. He formally purchased the site in 1826, and named the property "Canberry". The European population in the Canberra area continued to grow slowly throughout the 19th century. Among them was the Campbell family of "Duntroon"; their imposing stone house is now the officers' mess of the Royal Military College, Duntroon. The Campbells sponsored settlement by other farmer families to work their land, such as the Southwells of "Weetangera". Other notable early settlers included the inter-related Murray and Gibbes families, who owned the Yarralumla estatenow the site of the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia from the 1830s through to 1881. The oldest surviving public building in the inner-city is the Anglican Church of St John the Baptist, in the suburb of Reid, which was consecrated in 1845. St John's churchyard contains the earliest graves in the district. As the European presence increased, the indigenous population dwindled, mainly from disease such as smallpox and measles.
Canberra has a relatively dry continental climate with warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters. Canberra experiences warm, quite dry summers, and chilly winters with heavy fog and frequent frosts. Snow is rare in the CBD but the surrounding areas get annual snowfall through winter and often the snow capped mountains can be seen from the CBD. The highest recorded maximum temperature was 42.2 °C (108.0 °F) on 1 February 1968. The lowest recorded minimum temperature was 10 °C (14.0 °F) on 11 July 1971. Light snow often falls only once or twice per year but is usually not widespread and quickly dissipates. Canberra is protected from the west by the Brindabellas which create a slight rain shadow in Canberra's valleys.
Geography Canberra covers an area of square kilometres (314.3 sq. mi) and is located near the Brindabella Ranges, approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) inland from Australia's east coast. It has an elevation of approximately 580 metres (1,900 ft) AHD; the highest point is Mount Majura at 888 metres (2,913 ft). Other large hills include Mount Taylor, Mount Ainslie, Mount Mugga Mugga and Black Mountain.
Economy In early 2010, the unemployment rate in Canberra stood at 3.9% which is substantially lower than the national unemployment rate of 5.3%. As a result of low unemployment and substantial levels of public sector and commercial employment, Canberra has the highest average level of disposable income of any Australian capital city. The gross average weekly wage in Canberra is $1,392 compared with the national average of $1, (November 2009).
Governance Outside Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory has no settlements larger than a village. The Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly performs the roles of both a city council and territory government. The assembly consists of 17 members, elected from three districts using proportional representation. The three districts are Molonglo, Ginninderra and Brindabella, which elect seven, five and five members, respectively. ACT Legislative Assembly and the statue Ethos (Tom Bass, 1961)
Demographics As of 2006, the population of Canberra was 323,056 people. The 2006 census showed that 1.2% of Canberra's population were of indigenous origin and 21.7% were born overseas. The largest group of people born overseas came from English-speaking countries, led by the United Kingdom and then New Zealand.
Education The two main tertiary institutions are the Australian National University (ANU) in Acton and the University of Canberra (UC) in Bruce, with over 10,500 and 8,000 full-time-equivalent students respectively. Established in 1946, the ANU has always had a strong research focus and is ranked among the leading universities in the world and the best in Australia by The Times Higher Education Supplement and the Shanghai Jiao Tong World University Rankings. There are two religious university campuses in Canberra: Signadou in the northern suburb of Watson is a campus of the Australian Catholic University; St Mark's Theological College in Barton is part of the secular Charles Sturt University.
Sport n addition to local sporting leagues, Canberra has a number of sporting teams that compete in national and international competitions. The best known teams are the Canberra Raiders and the Brumbies who play rugby league and rugby union respectively; both have been champions of their leagues. Both teams play their home games at Canberra Stadium, which is the city's largest stadium and was used to hold group matches in soccer for the 2000 Summer Olympics and in rugby union for the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The city also has a successful basketball team, the Canberra Capitals, which has won seven out of the last eleven national women's basketball titles. Canberra United FC represents the city in the W-League, the national women's association football league, and were champions in the season.
Transport The automobile is by far the dominant form of transport in Canberra. The city is laid out so that arterial roads connecting inhabited clusters run through undeveloped areas of open land or forest, which results in a low population density; this also means that idle land is available for the development of future transport corridors if necessary without the need to build tunnels or acquire developed residential land. In contrast, other capital cities in Australia have substantially less green space.