The City at a glance

The City at a glance

People and places

The City of Sydney, often referred to as 'the City', is one of the largest and fastest growing local government areas in Australia.

Between June 2014 and June 2015, the City was the largest and third fastest growing local government area in NSW. The City is now the fourth largest local government area in the state.


As at June 2015, the estimated resident population of the City was 205,339 people, representing around 4.2% of Greater Sydney's total population.

Between 2005 and 2015, the City's population increased by nearly 30%, or 46,505 people. In contrast, Greater Sydney grew by 16.7% while NSW grew by 13.8% over the same period. By 2031, the City's population is projected to increase to more than 269,000.

The population density within the City is 7,683 per square kilometre (at June 2015).


On any given day, an estimated 610,000 day visitors and students come to the City to shop, be entertained or inspired, to learn, to visit friends and/or to conduct personal or corporate business.

The City is home to 60% of metropolitan Sydney's hotel rooms and over the past decade the number of visitors staying in City hotels has increased by 1 million arrivals a year, or by more than 30%. In 2012, the City received 4.25 million hotel visitors with an estimated direct spend into the City of over $5 billion.

Visitor growth in recent times has largely been from Asia, particularly China, India and Korea.

Harbour and parklands

Waterways and some public areas are under the executive control of various State Government agencies including: Property NSW, Transport for NSW, Sydney Ports, Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Department of Defence and UrbanGrowth NSW Development Corporation.

Diverse communities

The City is made up of many diverse communities – people who live here but come from a wide variety of cultural and social backgrounds.


Nearly half (49.1%) of the City's residents in 2011 were born overseas, of which 34.8% came from a country where English is not the first language.

Over a third (34%) of the City's residents speak a language other than English at home.

The dominant non-English languages spoken at home are Mandarin, spoken by 5.9% of residents followed by Cantonese (3.7%) and Thai (2.4%).

The City is also home to one of Sydney's largest communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


In 2011, almost half of the City's residents were aged between 18 and 34 years of age. The median age of City residents was 32 years in contrast to 36 years for Greater Sydney.

Over half of the population increase in the 5 years leading up to 2011 occurred within the 24 to 34 age groups. Conversely, there are proportionally fewer teenagers, children and older people residing within the City compared to Greater Sydney.

Living arrangements

Nearly 40% of City households in 2011 were occupied by lone persons, considerably higher than the Greater Sydney figure of 22.6%.

Couples without children and group households represent 28.3% and 14.2% of all City households, respectively. The City also has a much smaller proportion of 'couples with children households' (10.3%) compared to Greater Sydney (36.6%).


In 2011, around 65,000 people of the 100,000 working residents who live in the City also work in the local area. Another 372,000 workers living outside the local area also commute to the City each day.


On an average weekday in 2012, 437,000 people worked within the City – 22% in the finance and financial services sector and nearly 18% in professional and business services.

Nearly 45% of the City's workforce in 2011 were born overseas with 40% from Asia, 16% from the UK and 7% from New Zealand.


On average, individual residents in the City earn a weekly median wage of $888 compared to $619 for Greater Sydney.

More than a quarter (27%) of residents aged 15 and over earn a weekly income greater than $1,500 per week.

While 22% of residents aged 15 and over receive an income of less than $300 per week.

About 64% of residents in the City earn above the median wage compared to 53.1% of residents in Greater Sydney.

Urban landscape

Being the economic and cultural heart of the Sydney metropolitan area, the City is highly and densely urbanised.

Built form

The City has over 35 million square metres of internal floor space.

In 2012, around 47% of internal floor space was devoted to businesses in key industries including the finance sector, professional and business services and tourism. Just over a quarter (26.6%) was dedicated to residential uses.


Compared to more than 87% for Greater Sydney, 60% of City households own a car.

The average number of cars per household at 0.76 is around half the rate for households Sydney-wide (1.52).

Public transport use accounts for 35% when commuting to work while just over a quarter (26.3%) drive to work.

Nearly a third (32.5%) of residents used active transport to work such as riding a bike or walking.

The City in a national context 

Based on industry mix and relative occupational wage levels it is estimated that economic activity (GDP) generated in the City in 2014/15 was approximately $110 billion, representing over 7% of the total national economy in Australia, over 30% of the Sydney metropolitan economy and over 20% of the entire GDP for NSW.

There are over 21,500 separate business establishments located within the City. A large number of the top 500 companies in Australia are located in the City from the 41% that are located in NSW alone.

Overall the City has a working population that is just under 4% of the total workforce in Australia.

The City is the workplace for 21% of the entire finance sector, 15% of the total information, media and technology industry and 11% of creative and performing arts activity across Australia. The proportion is even greater in more specific industries such as internet publishing and broadcasting (56%).


  • 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing
  • 2012 City of Sydney Floor Space and Employment Survey
  • Tourist Accommodation Australia (ABS Cat no. 8635.0)
  • Regional Population Growth, Australia (ABS Cat no. 3218.0)

Last updated: Friday, 6 January 2017