The city at a glance

The city at a glance

Inside this section

People and places

The City of Sydney local area is one of the largest and fastest growing local government areas in Australia.

During 2011-2016, it was also the largest growing, and second fastest growing local government area in NSW.


As at June 2019, the estimated resident population in our local area was 246,343 people. This represents around 4.6% of Greater Sydney's total population.

The population density within the city is 9,212 per sq km (at June 2019).

Between 2009 and 2019, our local area population increased by 39.1%, or 69,193 people.

In contrast, Greater Sydney grew by 18.2% while NSW grew by 14.7% over the same period. By 2031, the local population is projected to increase to more than 320,000.


On any given day, an estimated 615,000 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 Sydney's hotel rooms. 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 2016, our local area saw 4.5 million hotel visitors with an estimated direct spend of over $6.5 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

Our local area is made up of many diverse communities – people who live here come from a wide variety of cultural and social backgrounds.


54.9% of local residents were born overseas, of which 36% came from a country where English is not the first language.

41.3% of local residents speak a language other than English at home. The dominant non-English languages spoken at home are Mandarin, spoken by 11.3% of residents followed by Thai with 3.6% and Cantonese with 3.3%.

Our local area is also home to one of Sydney's largest communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Almost half of our residents were aged between 18 and 34 years and our largest group is the 25 to 29 year-olds, making up almost 18% of our resident population. The median age of local residents is 32 years in contrast to 36 years for Greater Sydney.

The biggest population growth occurred in the 20–34 year-old group which has grown almost 21,000 in the past 5 years. This represents over half of the city’s growth and that group makes up over half the population.

Conversely, there are proportionally fewer teenagers, children and older people residing within our local area compared to Greater Sydney.

Living arrangements

37.3% of local households in 2016 were occupied by lone persons, considerably higher than the Greater Sydney figure of 21.6%.

Couples without children and group households represent 29.7% and 15.5% of all local households, respectively.

The local area also has a much smaller proportion of couples with children households (10.9%) compared to Greater Sydney (37.4%).


In 2016, around 75,000 people of the 125,000 working residents who live in our local area also work here. Another 427,000 workers who live outside the local area commute to the city each day.


On an average weekday in 2017, 502,000 people worked in our local area – 23% in the finance and financial services sector and nearly 20% in professional and business services.

Nearly 49% of the local workforce in 2016 were born overseas with 44% of overseas-born workers from Asia, 13% from the UK and 6% from New Zealand.


On average, the median weekly income for local households in 2016 was $1,915 compared to $1,745 for Greater Sydney.

31.8% of residents aged 15 and over earn a weekly income greater than $1,500 per week compared to 21.4% for Greater Sydney.

20.2% of residents aged 15 and over receive an income of less than $300 per week compared to 23.5% for Greater Sydney.

Urban landscape

Being the economic and cultural heart of the Greater Sydney area, the city is highly and densely urbanised.

Built form

Our local area has nearly 38 million sqm of internal floor space.

In 2017, around 45% of internal floor space was devoted to businesses in key industries including the finance sector, professional and business services and tourism. Just over a third (34.4%) was dedicated to residential uses.


Compared to more than 88.5% for Greater Sydney, 58.7% of local households own a car.

The average number of cars per household at 0.76 is around half the rate for households Sydney-wide (1.58).

In 2016, public transport use accounted for 35% when commuting to work while just over a quarter (26.3%) drive to work and 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 2017/18 was approximately $132.7 billion. This represents over 7% of the total national economy, over 30% of the Greater Sydney economy and over 20% of the entire GDP for NSW.

There are over 23,500 separate business establishments in our local area. 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 local working population 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%).


  • 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing
  • 2017 City of Sydney Floor Space and Employment Survey
  • Regional Population Growth, Australia (ABS Cat no. 3218.0)

Last updated: Thursday, 9 April 2020