Canberra (Australia)


Canberra is the capital of Australia, located in the southern part of the country. The city was specifically created in 1913 to replace Sydney and Melbourne, which were disputing the right to that status. Canberra is one of the few cities in the world that was specifically designed to be used as the capital.

The city’s history

The city of Canberra in 2013 will mark one hundred years since the first stone was laid for its construction. The first European settlers began settling in the 1820s, at a time when Canberra was settled by Aboriginal tribes, mainly Ngunnawal and Walhalla. The first white farmer here was Joshua John Moore. Even then he named his property Canberry, or Canberra. Years later other farms began to appear around Moore’s land. In less than a dozen years, Europeans were already living here as masters of the land: the native population was rapidly diminishing due to immigrant-borne diseases, to which they had no immunity, and the new settlement was growing very rapidly.

By the early twentieth century, the country’s government faced a serious question: where should the capital of Australia be located? The main candidates for such a high position were Sydney and Melbourne. In 1908 a compromise solution was found and the Canberra lands were given preference. An international competition was announced to determine the architectural appearance of the country’s future political center. The winning design was by the Chicago architect Walter Burleigh Griffin (1876-1937). On the basis of this project Canberra began to grow in 1913. And the active settling it began in 1930s. Today the city is built according to the plan “Y” all junctions are interconnected by high-speed roads, schematically repeating the letter Y.

As any self-respecting capital city, the Australian capital is developing, adding new quarters and districts, but the central part of Canberra retains its historic image and serves as a sort of matrix for new urban development plans.

Although Canberra is a peculiar capital city with all the state’s power structures located here, its business life is centered mostly in Sydney, which is why the city is called the unofficial capital of Australia. But Canberra doesn’t see this as usurping its capital. Far more important to the city’s residents is that it forms a unit with the lands of Namadgi National Park, called the Australian Capital Territory within the state of New South Wales.

As conceived by Walter Burley Griffin, the city has a radial-ring structure. In megalopolises with the same structure, such as Moscow, this is one of the reasons for “traffic jams”, while in Canberra, such a problem is practically absent. Moscow has a much more complex urban history and a huge population, but this comparison reveals one thing: this system is not inhuman. Especially with such a system of squares and convenient interchanges, as in Canberra, in addition, sparse with many gardens and parks with rivers and streams flowing under the canopy of trees. The most prestigious place to live in Canberra is the Ainslie District, and it’s not hard to guess that it’s also the greenest.

While Sydney’s architecture is better known, Canberra’s is more original. A good example here is the National Museum of Australia, opened in 2001. Architect Howard Raggatt in this project even created not so much a building as an architectural composition, plastic, thanks to the curved lines, painted in different colors. Of course, everything in the interior is subordinated to the interests of the exhibition.

General information

  • The capital of Australia.
  • Administrative-territorial division: 7 counties.
  • Language: English.
  • Religion: Catholicism and Anglicanism.
  • Currency: Australian dollar.
  • The largest river: Molonglo.
  • Largest lake: Burleigh Griffin (man-made).
  • Major airport: Canberra International Airport (at present flights are operated only within the Commonwealth of Australia).
  • Area: 814.2 km2.
  • Population: 351,868 (2009).
  • Population density: 432.2 people/km2.
  • Highest point: Mugga Mugga, 888 m.


  • About 40 percent of the population are civil servants in government institutions, most of them – in the structure of the Ministry of Defense.
  • Industry: software development.
  • Agriculture (the suburbs of Canberra): growing vegetables and fruit; livestock breeding.
  • Services: tourism.

Climate and weather

  • Subtropical continental.
  • Average summer temperature (December-February): +19.7°C.
  • Average winter temperature (June-August): +6.5 ºC.
  • Average rainfall: 617.4 mm.


  • “Parliamentary Triangle: Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament and other government offices and public organisations.
  • National Museum of Australia.
  • Captain Cook’s fountain.
  • National Gallery of Australia.
  • National Center for Science and Technology Questacon.
  • National Portrait Gallery of Australia and the old parliament building where it is located.
  • Australian Academy of Sciences.
  • Australian National Botanical Gardens.
  • National Museum of Dinosaurs.
  • Australian War Memorial.
  • Dantrun House (one of the first farms in the Canberra area).
  • Albert Hall Concert Hall.
  • Telstra Tower.

Fun Facts

  • From the language of the Ngunnawal people group, the word “Canberra” is most commonly translated as “meeting place” or “meeting place”, but some linguists have found that in one of the ethnic group’s dialects, the same word means “female breast”, which seems true: Canberra is surrounded by the Ainslie, Black Mountain and Bimberi Hills.
  • In Canberra, you can safely drink water from the tap – it comes from the springs of Namadgi National Park and is certified by the country’s Ministry of Health.
  • “Friend”, “sorry”, “God knows”, “time will tell”, “love is blind”, “forgive us for our genocide” (addressed to Aboriginal people) – these and similar words and phrases in Braille are printed on the silver aluminum panels that in places cover the walls of the National Museum of Australia.
  • By all accounts, Canberra is one of the most prosperous cities in Australia. Statistically, the unemployment rate is less than the national rate of about 2.8%.
  • The Australian National University, based in Canberra, is not only the best in the Commonwealth but also one of the top 100 higher education institutions in the world.
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