City on Port Phillip Bay at the mouth of the Yarra River.
Melbourne proper is centered on a small area on the northern bank of the Yarra.
The city is the capital and chief economic, cultural, and administrative center of the state of Victoria and the largest metropolitan area in Australia after that of Sydney. Population (1991, greater city) 3,022,439.
The cosmopolitan population includes many Italian, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese, British, and Irish immigrants. Melbourne is also a center for Jewish settlement in Australia.
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Industries of the Melbourne metropolitan area range from shipbuilding and petroleum refining along Port Phillip Bay to the manufacture of metals, motor vehicles, electrical and electronic equipment, machinery, chemicals, printed materials, textiles, clothing, paper, and processed food.
Broken Hill Proprietary Company, Ltd. (BHP), Australia's largest company, has its headquarters in Melbourne. BHP is a steel manufacturing and mining company.
Other Australian companies based in Melbourne include:
- National Australian Bank;
- Pacific Dunlop, a manufacturer and distributor of various consumer goods.
The site of the city was explored by Europeans in 1803, and it was settled in 1835 as Port Phillip by rival groups from Tasmania. Unlike other early settlements in southeast Australia, Melbourne was never a penal colony and was planned from the beginning as a residential community of wide streets and spacious parklands.
Its major growth began in the early 1850s, when, after the discovery of gold in the interior of Victoria (especially at Bendigo and Ballarat), it became the trade center for the gold hunters who flocked in from overseas.
In the late 19th century the city became an important rail center, its harbor was developed, and major manufacturing establishments were opened.
Melbourne was named the temporary seat of Australia's government when Australia became a commonwealth in 1901. In 1913 Canberra was named as the new national capital, but the government did not move there from Melbourne until 1927.
In 1956 the summer Olympic Games were held in Melbourne.
Road and rail networks focus on the city, and a large international airport is at Tullamarine.
Major cities near Melbourne:
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