Sydney was first visited by the British in 1770 when Captain James Cook and his crew sailed the Endeavour into Botany Bay. The First Fleet, led by HMS Sirius and under the command of Governor Arthur Phillip, arrived at Botany Bay in 1788. A total of 11 ships brought convicts and officials with plans to establish a colony.
After declaring Botany Bay not suitable for the settlement, Phillip sailed north to Port Jackson in the HMS Sirius, the fastest ship in the fleet, leaving the rest of the ships behind. This way it was much faster to look around for suitable land. On his arrival in Port Jackson Phillip landed in a cove that he believed had the best facilities such as water and food, and had the best location. Port Jackson was named Sydney Cove after the British Secretary of State, Viscount Sydney, on January 26, 1788. It wasn't long before the colony established itself. For the next 60 years it would be the new home to the unwanted and persecuted criminals of British society.
However by 1840 the colony and Sydney population was made up of mainly free immigrants and transportation of convicts ceased in 1842. By 1847 the convict population of Sydney accounted for only 3.2 percent of the total population. Thanks to Edward Hargraves bringing his discovery of gold from the west to the colony in 1851 and word that gold had been discovered in Victoria, settlers began leaving Sydney for the prospect of becoming rich. The gold rush that ensued attracted miners and prospectors from all over the world. Despite nearly all the miners leaving at the end of the gold rush, Sydney's population grew from 54,000 to 96,000 due to the growth in immigration.
Australian Federation was established in 1901 and the Commonwealth of Australia was declared in a ceremony in Centennial Park. The First World War brought about an economic boom for Sydney. However, when the war was over, the economy went into rapid decline and over a third of Sydney population was unemployed during the Great Depression of the early 1930's.
In 1932 with the increase in wool prices and the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the economy was back on track. Post World War 2 the population of Sydney swelled again with the influx of European immigrants and due to immigration policies of the day the population of Australia was 99.4 percent European by 1947.
Today Sydney is one of the most cosmopolitan, culturally diverse and aesthetically beautiful cities in the world with a Harbour only rivaled by that of Hong Kong. With its 20 or so beautiful swimming beaches and pleasant climate Sydney has become an extremely popular tourist destination attracting almost 3 million visitors annually.