Perth, Australia (Oceania)
What Makes Perth, Australia Interesting?
Perth is the capital and largest city of Western Australia. She is the fourth-most populated area in Australia, and one of the most isolated major cities in the world. The nearest city with a population of more than 100,000 is Adelaide, some 2,104 kilometres (1,307 mi) away. Only Honolulu (population 953,000) at 3,841 kilometres (2,387 mi) from San Francisco is more isolated. This isolation, however, has developed a strong local music scene among her assets. Kings Park in central Perth is one of the world’s largest inner-city parks at 400.6 hectares (990 acres). Before European colonization, the area had been inhabited by the Whadjuk Noongar people for over 40,000 years (as evidenced by archaeological findings on the Upper Swan River). It was known then as Boorloo. Perth was the first full-scale settlement by Europeans in the western third of the continent. In 1829, James Stirling (the city’s founder), claimed Perth was “as beautiful as anything of this kind I had ever witnessed.” Later that year, crew member Helen Dance cut down a tree to mark the founding of the town. In 1901, Western Australia (Perth’s state) was the last of the colonies to join the Federation of Australia. They agreed after the other colonies had offered several concessions. They seceded in 1933.
At a Glance
Area: 6,417.9 km2 (2,478.0 sq mi)
Population (2014): 2,021,200
People Are Called (Demonyms): Perthite, Perthian
Time Zone: UTC+8
GPS Coordinates: 31°57′8″S 115°51′32″E
Gross Domestic Product (2013-14 GDP): $265 billion
What’s in the Name?
The city was named BY James Stirling under the influence of Sir George Murray (then British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies) who was born in Perth, Scotland. The name for the capital seems to have been conceived well in advance. The initial proclamation of the colony ended with “given under my hand and Seal at Perth this 18th Day of June 1829. James Stirling, Lieutenant Governor.” Prior to being recognized as a city, Perth was known informally as the Swan River Colony after the area’s major watercourse. The city then became known worldwide as the “City of Light” when residents lit their houses and streetlights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead on Friendship 7 (1962) and on the Space Shuttle (1998).
40,000 years ago — the Whadjuk Noongar people settled the region.
1697 — first documented sighting of the region was made by the Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh and his crew.
1829 — founded by Captain James Stirling as the administrative centre of the Swan River Colony.
1831 — hostile encounters occurred between the British settlers and the native Noongar people.
1832 — the British colony was officially designated Western Australia.
1833 — execution of the Whadjuk elder Midgegooroo, and the death of his son Yagan.
1834 — the Pinjarra massacre took place.
1850 — Western Australia was opened to convicts at the request of farming and business people looking for cheap labor.
1856 — gained city status.
Late 19th Century — population surged substantially as a result of the Western Australian gold rushes.
1901 — Western Australia joined the Federation of Australia (the last of the Australian colonies to agree).
1933 — Western Australia voted to leave the Australian Federation, by 2-to-1 majority in favor of secession.
1929 — promoted to the status of a lord mayorality.
1941-45 — Fremantle and Matilda Bay served as bases for the Pacific Theatre in World War II.
Post World War II — population surged from an influx of British, Greek, Italian and Yugoslavian immigrants.
2006 — the Federal Court of Australia recognized the Perth metro area as Noongar native land (decision overturned).
2010 — classified as a world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.
2015 — ranked 8th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s list of the world’s most liveable cities.
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• Feature, Forbes: “Uncrowded, Unique Western Australia”
• A complete archive of curated articles is forthcoming on this destination (see page on Dhaka, Bangladesh for the model).
Perth receives moderate, highly seasonal rainfall. It is the fourth wettest Australian capital city after Darwin, Sydney, and Brisbane. Summers are generally very hot and dry. They span December to late March. On most summer afternoons, a sea breeze known locally as the “Fremantle Doctor” blows from the southwest. Winters are relatively mild and wet. That makes Perth a classic example of a “Mediterranean climate.” It is a particularly sunny city for this type of climate, with an average of 8.8 hours of sunshine daily. Temperatures range from 18.4°C / 65.1°F in July to 31.7°C / 89.1°F in February.
Since the 1950s, Perth’s growth has resulted from its role as the main service centre for Western Australia’s resource industries. This includes extraction of gold, iron ore, nickel, alumina, diamonds, mineral sands, coal, oil, and natural gas. While most of the production takes place elsewhere in the state, these services provide the backbone of employment and income to the people of Perth. The city’s relative geographical isolation means that it has never had the necessary conditions to develop significant manufacturing industries that benefit other parts of domestic Australia. It has been cheaper to import all the needed manufactured goods from either the eastern states or overseas. Tourism is an important part of the state’s economy. 2.8 million domestic visitors and 0.7 million international visitors arrive annually (2012).
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The climate of Perth allows for extensive outdoor activity, which means that it is great for sports. Australian rules football is the most popular spectator sport in Perth. Nearly 23% of Western Australians attended a match at least once in 2009–2010. The two teams located in the city (the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Football Club) have two of the largest fan bases in the country. Other popular sports include cricket, basketball, association football (soccer), and rugby union. Motorsport facilities in Perth include Perth Motorplex (drag racing and speedway) and Barbagallo Raceway (circuit racing and drifting). The city also has two thoroughbred racing facilities: Ascot (home of the Railway Stakes and Perth Cup) and Belmont Park.