Demographics of Sydney

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Map of the median age of Sydney residents by Postal Area in the 2011 census

Sydney is Australia's most populous city, and is also the most populous city in Oceania. In the 2016 census, 5,005,400 persons declared themselves as residents of the Sydney Statistical Division about one-fifth (19.41%) of Australia's total population. With a population density of 2037 people per square kilometer the urban core has population density five times that of the greater region. [1] [2]


Sydney is the most densely populated city in Australia. It's also the busiest city in Australia. The median age of Sydney residents was 35 years, and households comprised an average of 2.7 members. [3] [4]


population by year
17962,953 [5]
1911629,503 [6]

European settlement in Sydney began in 1788, and in 1800 Sydney had around 3,000 non-indigenous inhabitants. It took time for the city's population to growin 1851 its population was only 39,000, compared with 77,000 in Melbourne. The subsequent gold rushes in Victoria caused the population of Melbourne to increase rapidly, while the lesser gold rushes in New South Wales had a less profound effect on the population of Sydney.

Sydney overtook Melbourne as Australia's most populous city in the early twentieth century, and reached the million inhabitants milestone around 1925. The opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge helped pave the way for further urban development north of Sydney Harbour. Post-war immigration and a baby boom helped the population reach two million by 1962. Sydney remained Australia's most populous city throughout the 20th century, and is projected to retain this position for much of the 21st century. [7]

At the June 2016 Australian census, Sydney's population reached 5 million people. [1]


Sydney is particularly noted for its low population density, due to its history. Surrounded by land that was considered unowned by the city's founders, early Sydney enjoyed relatively low land values. Coupled with successive governments' willingness to release new land on the city's outskirts for further development, this history has given Sydney a low-density self-image. [8] [9]


Significant overseas born populations [10]
Country of BirthPopulation (2016)
China China 224,685
United Kingdom United Kingdom 180,245
India India 130,573
New Zealand New Zealand 86,526
Vietnam Vietnam 81,045
Philippines Philippines 75,480
Lebanon Lebanon 55,979
South Korea South Korea 49,508
Italy Italy 40,492
Hong Kong Hong Kong 40,577
Iraq Iraq 39,237
South Africa South Africa 35,313
Fiji Fiji 31,510
Indonesia Indonesia 29,989
Malaysia Malaysia28,464
Greece Greece 27,005

Sydney (like Melbourne) has enjoyed a large number of migration since its inception. The principal ancestries of Greater Sydney's residents (as surveyed in 2011) are: [11]

Census respondents could nominate up to two ancestries they identified themselves as belonging to.

The principal countries of birth of Greater Sydney's residents (as surveyed in 2011) are: [11]

Aboriginals were about 1.1% of all Sydney residents.

Sydney has been a hub of a number of migrant communities, such as the Lebanese, Fijian, Korean and Nepalese. [10] Well over half of Australia's 25,000-strong Nepalese community, [12] for example, is concentrated in Sydney. [13] Seven out of every ten Lebanese migrants in Australia live in Sydney. [10] The Ghanaian community has been noted as being quite visible in Sydney, with the number of Ghanaian churches being unusually large considering the relatively small number of Ghanaians in Australia. [14] Furthermore, the suburb of Fairfield in the Greater Western Sydney area, is an ethnic enclave of Assyrian Christians, [15] where they are the largest ethnic group in the suburb and also in the surrounding areas of Fairfield Heights, Prairiewood and Greenfield Park. [16]

Each dot indicates 100 persons born in Britain (dark blue), Greece (light blue), China (red), India (brown), Vietnam (yellow), Philippines (pink), Italy (light green) and Lebanon (dark green). Based on 2006 Census

The most common languages spoken at home are English (the sole language of 60.8% of the population), Arabic (spoken by 4.4%), Cantonese (3.4%), Mandarin (2.6%), Greek (2.2%) and Vietnamese (2.0%). [17]

Most common ancestries of
Sydney urban area (2016) [18]
English 1,220,14525.3
Australian 1,133,98523.5
Chinese 487,97610.1
Irish 416,6428.6
Scottish 307,4606.4
Italian 204,1604.2
Indian 194,0184.0
Lebanese 160,3723.3
German 122,9012.5
Greek 117,7142.4
Total population4,823,994

Some migrant groups are associated with the suburb in which they first settled in, such as the Vietnamese in Cabramatta, Italians in Fremantle, Indians in Parramatta and Liverpool, Chinese in Burwood and Hurstville and many more of various ethnicities that span across the globe.


Monks crossing a street in The Rocks

At the 2006 Census, the most common responses for religion were Catholic (29.2%), Anglican (16.5%), Eastern Orthodox (4.8%) and Islam (4.4%). 14.1% declared no religious affiliation. [17] 10.4% left the question blank, 3.7% were Buddhists, 1.7% were Hindu, 0.9% were Jewish.

The 2011 Census most common responses were Catholic, (28.3%), Anglican (14.7%), Islam (5.3%) and Eastern Orthodox (4.6%). 17.5% declared no religion. [11]

In 2016, the most common responses for religion in Greater Sydney were Catholic 25.1%, No Religion, so described 24.6%, Anglican 12.0%, Not stated 8.8% and Islam 5.3%. [19]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Sydney population hits 5 million". Australian Bureau of Statistics . 30 March 2017. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  2. "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2014–15: Media Release Sydney on target to Take Five". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  3. "National Regional Profile: Sydney (Statistical Division)". Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  4. "2032.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Australia in Profile -- A Regional Analysis, 2001", Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2004-01-16
  5. "3105.0.65.001 - Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2006". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 21 November 2011.Table 1. Population by sex, states and territories, 31 December 1788 onwards
  6. "Australian Historical Population Statistics, 2008". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  7. "3222.0 – Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  8. Forster 1995.
  9. 1217.0.55.001 - Glossary of Statistical Geography Terminology, 2003 , Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003
  10. 1 2 3 "2016 Census Community Profiles - Greater Sydney". Australian Bureau of Statistics . Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  11. 1 2 3
  12. "People in Australia who were born in Nepal". Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  13. "People in Greater Sydney who were born in Nepal". Australian Bureau of Statistics.
  14. "Patriotic to a fault". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  15. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Fairfield (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 27 June 2017. Edit this at Wikidata
  16. B. Furze, P. Savy, R. Brym, J. Lie, Sociology in Today's World, 2008, p. 349
  17. 1 2 Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Sydney (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 23 November 2011. Map
  18. "2016 Census Community Profiles". Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2017. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  19. "2016 Census QuickStats Greater Sydney". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Government. 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2017.,