Canberra is the capital city of Australia and with a population of over 332,000, is Australia's largest inland city. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory, 280 kilometres southwest of Sydney, and 650 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.
The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities. It is unusual among Australian cities as an entirely purpose-built, planned city.
Following an international contest for the city's design, a design by Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913.
The city's design was heavily influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation that have earned Canberra the title "bush capital". Although the growth and development of Canberra were hindered by the World Wars and the Great Depression, it emerged as a thriving city after World War II.
As the seat of the government of Australia, Canberra is the site of Parliament House, the High Court of Australia and numerous government departments and agencies. It is also the location of many social and cultural institutions of national significance. The federal government contributes the largest percentage of Gross State Product and is the largest single employer in Canberra (although it is no longer the employer of the majority of working Canberrans, as was once the case).
Before European settlement, the area in which Canberra would eventually be constructed was seasonally inhabited by the Ngunnawal and Walgalu tribes. The Ngarigo lived south-east of the Canberra area, the Gundungurra to the north, the Yuin on the coast and the Wiradjuri to the west. Archaeological evidence from the Canberra region suggests human habitation of the area for at least 21,000 years. The word "Canberra" is derived from the name of the local Ngabri people dialect, one of the Ngunnawal family groups, from the word Kanbarra meaning "meeting place" in the old Ngunnawal language. The Ngunnawal name was apparently used as a reference to corroborees held during the seasonal migration of the Ngunawal people to feast on the Bogong moths that pass through the region each spring.