The city at a glance – Sydney

People and places

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

As a local government area, the City was the largest growing LGA in the state for the period 2011–2016 and the second-fastest-growing LGA in NSW.


As of June 2018, the estimated resident population in our local area was 240,229 people, representing around 4.6% of Greater Sydney’s total population.

The population density within the city is 9,186 per sq km (at June 2018).

Between 2008 and 2018, our local area population increased by 38.9%, or 27,244 people.

In contrast, Greater Sydney grew by 18.6% while NSW grew by 15.0% 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 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 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 NSWTransport for NSWSydney PortsCentennial Park and Moore Park TrustRoyal Botanic Gardens & Domain TrustDepartment 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 2011, around 65,000 people of the 100,000 working residents who live in our local area also work here. Another 372,000 workers who live outside the local area commute to the city each day.


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

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


On average, individual local residents earn a weekly median wage of $953 compared to $719 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 urbanized.

Built form

Our local area has over 35 million sqm 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 88.5% for Greater Sydney, 59.3% 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 2011, 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 2015/16 was approximately $118 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 21,500 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%).


  • 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing
  • 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census of Population and Housing
  • 2012 City of Sydney Floor Space and Employment Survey
  • Regional Population Growth, Australia (ABS Cat no. 3218.0)

source: City of Sydney