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By David Axe
When the Pentagon needs to frighten its enemies and rivals, the Air Force deploys fast, radar-evading F-22 stealth fighters or B-52 heavy bombers bristling with weaponry. When threats turn to violence, the Navy and Air Force can call on their huge arsenals of F-15, F-16 and F-18 jet fighters to drop bombs and fire missiles.
For the quieter, more subtle work of spotting, tracking and killing suspected terrorists, the U.S. relies on armed Predator and Reaper drones operated by the Air Force, Army and CIA. And in the difficult, dirty slog of ground warfare, the Army calls on its Apache gunship helicopters and Blackhawk transports and the Marines their controversial V-22 tiltrotors.
But for a wide range of more secretive missions, the Pentagon possesses tiny forces of specialized, and largely unknown, warplanes.
Some are rugged transports meant to blend in with civilian air fleets and deliver commandos or diplomats to remote battlefields — or provide overhead surveillance during highly classified Special Operations. Others are electronic wizards, performing esoteric but vital communications functions in the high-tech management of the Pentagon’s far-flung forces. And then there are the “aggressors” — foreign-made or modified domestic models prized for their ability to accurately simulate the capabilities of America’s enemies.
Some of these special aircraft are obscure by design. A few are top secret. The rest go unrecognized because, in an American aerial armada populated mostly by fast, loud fighters, lumbering bombers and jet transports and innumerable helicopters, they seem unimpressive. But the vital roles they play in America’s domination of the air belie their unassuming exteriors.
What follows are just 10 of the ass-kicking U.S. warplanes you probably didn’t know existed.
What better way to train for aerial warfare than to simulate entire air campaigns, right down to using U.S.-made planes as stand-ins for the other side’s air force?
That’s the thinking behind the Pentagon’s Red Flag series of wargames as well as for countless smaller simulated battles. To represent the Russian-made fighters flown by many of America’s enemies, the Air Force use its standard F-15 and F-16, flown by highly experienced pilots well versed in adversary tactics.
But the Navy and Marines take a different approach. They fly 31 Northrop F-5s, a type of lightweight dogfighter not used by regular U.S. squadrons — and which closely duplicates the fast-turning performance of many Russian-made planes.
The F-5 has been out of production for decades, so when the Navy needed to purchase additional copies of the maneuverable jet, it negotiated for some lightly used copies from Switzerland, ensuring the reinforced adversary squadrons will be waging simulated warfare for years to come.
MiGs, Mils and Sukhois
How do the pilots flying the F-5s to simulate Russian jets even know how the Russian models perform? From time to time U.S. forces have the opportunity to conduct training exercises with allies equipped with Soviet-style aircraft. But that experience masks the Pentagon’s direct experience operating enemy warplanes.
Since at least 1977 the military has flown roughly a couple dozen Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi fighters from the secretive Tonopah air base in Nevada, under the code name Constant Peg. How the jets were acquired, the Pentagon has never specified, though purchases from non-aligned nations are one possible avenue, as is outright theft. “We didn’t know what 90 percent of the switches did,” John Manclark, former Constant Peg commander, said of his exotic fighters.
The Army has a parallel program, flying an estimated 13 Russian Mil helicopters, including the Mi-24 gunship pictured above. As recently as the 1990s, the Army openly discussed these “threat simulators,” but in recent years has scrubbed the references and even yanked photos off the Internet, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.
The Air Force declassified Constant Peg in 2006, but still keeps most of the details under wraps — including the current status of America’s MiG air force. As recently as 2003, the latest Russian Su-27 fighter was videotaped flying over Tonopah.
The Pentagon values its Russian-made warplanes precisely because they stand out from the legions of F-15s, F-16s and F-18s. But some missions require the opposite approach: total discretion.
Adm. Bill McRaven, commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces, said in May that his commandos were on the ground in 77 countries. In some of those countries, the commandos must keep a low profile, without sacrificing their ability to gather intelligence. For that, they need a low-profile spy plane.
Fortunately, Swiss firm Pilatus makes just the thing: the single-propeller U-28, which is powerful enough to haul cameras, data-links and imagery analysts, but sufficiently innocuous-looking to avoid serious attention at Third World airports. The Air Force possesses 36 of the sleek planes, which can double as transports.
The U-28 made headlines in February when one crashed near the U.S. base in Djibouti in East Africa, killing four Air Force Special Ops crewmen.
Photo: Air Force
So in 2009 the Air Force purchased 10 M28 Skytrucks from a Polish manufacturer. These stubby, twin-engine airlifters are just big enough, and tough enough, to land six fully loaded commandos on some dirt air strip or a length of unimproved road.
Unlike the U-28, the M28 does not carry surveillance gear, Air Force Col. J.D. Clem said. “There is nothing really cosmic about it at all,” Clem insisted.
But that doesn’t mean the ugly little sky truck isn’t doing vital work moving America’s commandos to the latest hotspot.
Photo coutesy of David Cenciotti
Diplomatic Air Force
Special Operations Command isn’t the only organization that requires an anonymous, dependable transport for flying in and out of war zones. The U.S. State Department operates 70-year-old Douglas DC-3 cargo planes in support of its far-flung diplomatic outposts in such places as Libya and Iraq.
Upgraded with new engines, the World War II-era DC-3s still aren’t very fast — 150 miles per hour or so — but they can take off and land pretty much anywhere. A DC-3 was on call to support Christoper Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in the months before he was killed in a September terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
The ancient but effective transports are part of the little-known Department of State Air Wing, which possesses 230 aircraft and, according to aviation journalist David Cenciotti, performs missions including “reconnaissance and surveillance operations, command and control for counter-narcotics operations, interdiction operations, logistical support, medical evacuation [and] personnel and cargo movement by air.”
Photo courtesy of David Cenciotti
But the HC-130s — enhanced versions of the venerable C-130 transport — also handle some of the most sensitive, and thankless, missions in the Pentagon’s remit, thanks to their extra radios and navigation equipment and highly trained crews.
In 2006, for example, an HC-130 with 17 U.S. personnel on board flew into Sudan to pick up gear belonging to a U.S. military liaison to that country. This was at the height of the bloody Darfur genocide. And although the flight was legal, Sudanese officials on the ground accused the crew of spying — and deployed troops to block the plane’s departure. An all-day stand-off nearly escalated into a firefight before the HC-130 made its escape. The public learned about the near-disaster only when the Air Force tapped some crew members for commendation.
Photo: Air Force
The RC-7B is a modified, Canadian-made transport plane fitted with cameras, radars and electronic receivers for listening in on enemy communications. Originally developed for counter-drug ops in Latin America, the Army’s seven RC-7s now deploy all over the world on classified missions. Their generic appearance helps them blend in.
With the addition of acoustic gunfire-detectors, in 2002 RC-7s aided in the hunt for the snipers then stalking the Washington, D.C. area, ultimately killing 10 people.
Nine years later, an RC-7 was itself the target of attack, as North Korea apparently used a GPS jammer to interfere with the plane’s navigation south of the Demilitarized Zone, forcing the RC-7 to make an emergency landing.
In the event of a major terror attack or nuclear war, the plan is for the president to hop aboard an E-4 “doomsday” plane, a modified 747 from which he can safely command America’s forces.
The Navy’s 16 E-6Bs are doomsday back-ups, equipped with nearly every communications device imaginable, with the additional ability to transmit radio messages to submerged submarines via a trailing, five-mile-long antenna.
But it’s the E-6’s other duties that make it so interesting day to day. With so many different radios, the E-6 is one of the few U.S. warplanes — the secretive “Bacon” is the other — that’s able to function as a “universal translator,” helping U.S. and allied forces talk to each other across great distance. Reporter David Cenciotti even tracked an E-6 apparently playing relay during the May 2011 raid to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. ”
Photo: Air Force
At the height of the Cold War more than five decades ago, the U.S. and the Soviet Union each tested hundreds of nukes. To glean what it could from the Soviet tests, the Air Force sent old, propeller-driven B-29 bombers equipped with scoops for sucking up radioactive particles for analysis. The jet-powered WC-135 entered service in 1965, replacing the World War II-vintage planes.
Today the Air Force’s two WC-135 spend most of their time in the Pacific, sniffing the air for evidence of North Korean nuclear tests. The planes can also “detect seismic events” associated with nuke blasts, according to Air Force spokesman Maj. Chad Steffey.
Their unique sensors make the bug-catcher planes uniquely suited to another alarming task: monitoring the effects of an accidental nuclear meltdown. When Japan’s Fukushima reactor was damaged in last year’s tsunami, the Air Force sent a WC-135 to map the fallout.
Photo: Air Force
Officially, the Air Force retired its force of approximately 40 F-117 stealth fighters in March 2008, citing the high cost of maintenance, the jet’s waning ability to evade the latest radars and the introduction of the newer and more capable F-22.
But two years later, plane-spotters in Nevada encountered the F-117’s familiar diamond shape zooming overhead, as seen the video above. It appears the Pentagon’s first stealth warplane has not been grounded, but has only returned to the shadows from where it came.
We can only speculate as to why. Aviationintel’s Ty Rogoway believes the radar-evading jets were preserved for testing. “The F-117 could theoretically be used as something of a ‘flying measuring stick’ for evaluating a radar system’s ability to detect and track low-observable flying objects,” Rogoway wrote.
By the same token, it’s possible the F-117s are being used to simulate enemy stealth fighters in Pentagon war games, giving U.S. forces realistic targets to defend against. After all, America is not the only country with specialized, and secretive, warplanes.
Sydney ( /sɪdni/) is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia. It is located on Australia’s south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people. Inhabitants of Sydney are called Sydneysiders, comprising a cosmopolitan and international population.
The site of the first British colony in Australia, Sydney was established in 1788 at Sydney Cove by Arthur Phillip, commodore of the First Fleet as a penal colony. The city is built on hills surrounding Port Jackson which is commonly known as Sydney Harbour, where the iconic Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge feature prominently. The hinterland of the metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks, and the coastal regions feature many bays, rivers, inlets and beaches including the famous Bondi Beach andManly Beach. Within the city are many notable parks, including Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Sydney often ranks highly in various world cities rankings. It has hosted major international sporting events, including the 1938 British Empire Games and the 2000 Summer Olympics. The main airport serving Sydney is Sydney Airport and the main port in the city is Sydney Harbour.
Radio carbon dating suggests that the Sydney region has been inhabited by indigenous Australians for at least 30,000 years.
The traditional indigenous inhabitants of Sydney Cove are the Cadigal people, whose land once stretched from south of Port Jackson to Petersham. While estimates of the population numbers prior to the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 remains contentious, approximately 4,000–8,000 Aboriginal people lived in the Sydney region prior to contact with British settlers.
The British called the indigenous people the “Eora”, because being asked where they came from, these people would answer: “Eora”, meaning “here”, or “from this place” in their language. There were three language groups in the Sydney region, which were divided into dialects spoken by smaller clans. The principal languages were Darug (the Cadigal, original inhabitants of the City of Sydney, spoke a coastal dialect of Darug), Dharawal and Guringai. Each clan had a territory, the location of each territory determined the resources available.
Although urbanisation has destroyed much evidence of these settlements such as shell middens, a number of Sydney rock engravings, carvings and rock art remain visible in the Hawkesbury sandstone of the Sydney basin.
A Direct North General View of Sydney Cove, painted by convict and artist Thomas Watling in 1794
In 1770, British sea captain Lieutenant James Cook landed in Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula. It is here that Cook made first contact with an Aboriginal community known as the Gweagal. Under instruction from the British government, a convict settlementwas founded by Arthur Phillip, who arrived at Botany Bay with a fleet of 11 ships on 18 January 1788. This site was soon determined to be unsuitable for habitation, owing to poor soil and a lack of reliable fresh water. Phillip subsequently founded the colony one inlet further up the coast, at Sydney Cove on Port Jackson on 26 January 1788. The official proclamation of the founding and naming of Sydney took place nearly two weeks later on 7 February 1788. The original name was intended to be Albion, but Phillip named the settlement after the British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney, in recognition of Sydney’s role in issuing the charter authorising Phillip to establish the colony.
In April 1789, a catastrophic epidemic disease now thought to be smallpox spread through the Eora people and surrounding groups, with the result that local Aborigines died in their thousands, and bodies could often be seen bobbing in the water in Sydney Harbour. The cause of the epidemic has always been a matter of speculation and controversy, introduction by the British being among the most likely explanations. In any event, the results were catastrophic for the Eora people and their kin and by the early 1800s the Aboriginal population of the Sydney basin “had been reduced to only 10 percent of the 1788 estimate”, or an estimated 500 to 1000 Aboriginal people between Broken Bay and Botany Bay.
Sydney harbour in 1932
There was some violent resistance to British settlement, notably by the warrior Pemulwuy in the area around Botany Bay, and conflicts were common in the area surrounding the Hawkesbury River. By 1820 there were only a few hundred Aborigines and Governor Macquarie had begun initiatives to ‘civilise, Christianise and educate’ the Aborigines by removing them from their clans. Macquarie’s tenure as Governor of New South Wales was a period when Sydney was improved from its basic beginnings. Roads, bridges, wharves and public buildings were constructed by British and Irish convicts, and by 1822 the town had banks, markets, well-established thoroughfares and an organised constabulary.
The 1830s and 1840s were periods of urban development including the development of the first suburbs, as the town grew rapidly when ships began arriving from Britain and Ireland with immigrants looking to start a new life in a new country. On 20 July 1842 the municipal council of Sydney was incorporated and the town was declared the first city in Australia, with John Hosking the first elected mayor. The first of several Australian gold rushes started in 1851, and the port of Sydney has since seen many waves of people arriving from around the world.
Rapid suburban development began in the last quarter of the 19th century with the advent of steam-powered tramways and railways. With industrialisation Sydney expanded rapidly and, by the early 20th century, it had a population of more than a million. In 1929, the novelist Arthur Henry Adams called it the “Siren City of the South” and the “Athens of Australia”. The Great Depression hit Sydney badly. One of the highlights of the Depression era, however, was the completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932. There has traditionally been a rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne since the gold rushes of the 1850s made the capital of Victoria Australia’s largest and richest city. Sydney overtook Melbourne in population in the early years of the 20th century, and continues to be the largest city in Australia. During the 1970s and 1980s, Sydney’s CBD, with a great number of financial institutions including the headquarters of the Reserve Bank, surpassed Melbourne as the nation’s financial capital. Throughout the 20th century, especially in the decades immediately following World War II, Sydney continued to expand as large numbers of European and later Asian immigrants took up residence in the metropolitan area.
Sydney’s urban area is in a coastal basin, which is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Blue Mountains to the west, the Hawkesbury River to the north and the Royal National Park to the south. It lies on a submergent coastline, where the ocean level has risen to flood deep river valleys (ria) carved in the Hawkesbury sandstone. Port Jackson, better known as Sydney Harbour, is one such ria. The Sydney area is not affected by significant earthquakes.
The urban area has around 70 harbour and ocean beaches, including the famous Bondi Beach. Sydney’s urban area covers 1,687 km2 (651 sq mi) as of 2001. The Sydney Statistical Division, used for census data, is the unofficial metropolitan area and covers 12,145 km2 (4,689 sq mi). This area includes the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains, and national parks and other unurbanised land.
Satellite image looking west, with Botany Bay on the left and Port Jackson on the right, showing the extent of the city.
Geographically, Sydney lies over two regions: the Cumberland Plain, a relatively flat region lying to the south and west of the harbour, and the Hornsby Plateau, a sandstone plateau lying mainly to the north of the harbour and dissected by steep valleys. The parts of the city with the oldest European development are located in the flat areas south of the harbour. The North Shore was slower to develop because of its hilly topography and lack of access across the harbour. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932 and linked the North Shore to the rest of the city.
Sydney is situated on low, rolling hills with wide valleys, situated in a rain-shadow zone below the Blue Mountains.
Sydney has a temperate climate with warm summers and mild winters. Rainfall is spread throughout the year. The weather is moderated by proximity to the ocean, and more extreme temperatures are recorded in the inland western suburbs. The warmest month is January, with an average air temperature range at Observatory Hill of 18.6–25.8 °C (65–78 °F). An average of 14.6 days a year have temperatures of more than 30 °C (86.0 °F).
In winter, temperatures rarely drop below 5 °C (41 °F) in coastal areas. The coldest month is July, with an average range of 8.0–16.2 °C (46–61 °F). Rainfall is fairly evenly spread through the year, but is slightly higher during the first half of the year, when easterly winds dominate. The average annual rainfall, with moderate to low variability, is 1,217 mm (48 in), with rain falling on an average of 138 days a year. Snowfall was last reported in the Sydney City area in 1836. However, a July 2008 fall of graupel, or soft hail, mistaken by many for snow, has raised the possibility that the 1836 event was not snow, either. Extreme temperatures have ranged from 45.3 °C (113.5 °F) on 14 January 1939 at the end of a four-day heatwave across Australia and 2.1 °C (35.8 °F), the lowest recorded minimum at Observatory Hill.
The city is not affected by cyclones. The El Niño Southern Oscillation plays an important role in determining Sydney’s weather patterns: drought and bushfire on the one hand, and storms and flooding on the other, associated with the opposite phases of the oscillation. Many areas of the city bordering bushland have experienced bushfires, these tend to occur during the spring and summer. The city is also prone to severe hail storms and wind storms. One such storm was the 1999 hailstorm, which severely damaged Sydney’s eastern and city suburbs. The storm produced massive hailstones of at least 9 cm (3.5 in) in diameter and resulting in insurance losses of around A$1.7 billion in less than five hours. The next notable event was in the first weeks of February 2010 when Sydney received some of the highest rainfalls in 25 years, which caused flash flooding and traffic chaos.
Average annual temperature of the sea is above 21 °C (70 °F), from 19 °C (66 °F) in July to 24 °C (75 °F) in January.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The metropolitan area is characterised by large areas of urban sprawl, and, on the eastern side, beaches along the Tasman Sea
Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD) extends southwards for about 3 kilometres (2 mi) from Sydney Cove to the area around Central station. The Sydney CBD is bounded on the east side by a chain of parkland, and the west by Darling Harbour, a tourist and nightlife precinct. Although the CBD dominated the city’s business and cultural life in the early days, other business/cultural districts have developed in a radial pattern since World War II. As a result, the proportion of white-collar jobs located in the CBD declined from more than 60 per cent at the end of World War II to less than 30 per cent in 2004
Together with the commercial district of North Sydney, joined to the CBD by the Harbour Bridge, the most significant outer business districts are Parramatta in the central-west, Penrith in the west, Bondi Junction in the east, Liverpool in the southwest, Chatswood to the north, and Hurstville to the south.
The extensive area covered by urban Sydney is formally divided into 649 suburbs (for addressing and postal purposes), and administered as 40 local government areas. There is no metropolitan-wide government, but the government of New South Wales and its agencies have extensive responsibilities in providing metropolitan services. The City of Sydney itself covers a fairly small area comprising the central business district and its neighbouring inner-city suburbs. In addition, regional descriptions are used informally to conveniently describe larger sections of the urban area. These include Eastern Suburbs, Hills District, Inner West, Canterbury-Bankstown, Greater Western Sydney, Northern Beaches, Northern Suburbs, North Shore, St George,Southern Sydney, South-western Sydney, Sutherland Shire known locally as ‘The Shire’ and Western Sydney.
Sydney is well-endowed with open spaces and access to waterways, and has many natural areas, even in the city centre. Within the CBD are the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney Park,Hyde Park, The Domain and the Royal Botanic Gardens. The metropolitan area contains several national parks, including the Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the world, and several parks in Sydney’s far west which are part of the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains Area.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
The Domain was established by Governor Arthur Phillip, just six months after the arrival of the first fleet. Originally established as being exclusive to Governors, it was opened to the public in the 1830s. Hyde Park was dedicated on 13 October 1810 by Governor Macquarie for the “recreation and amusement of the inhabitants of the town and a field of exercises for the troops”. To celebrate the first 100 years of European settlement, Centennial Park was dedicated by Sir Henry Parkes in January 1888. Similarly, Bicentennial Park was opened on 1 January 1988 to commemorate 200 years since European settlement. 1988’s Bicentennial celebrations also saw the opening of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, designed by the City of Sydney’s Chinese sister city Guangzhou.
Sydney retains much of its 19th century heritage architecture, such as theromanesque revival Queen Victoria Building.
Sydney has various heritage listed buildings, including Sydney Town Hall, The Queen Victoria Building, Parliament House, and the Australian Museum. There is no architecture style that entirely characterises the whole of Sydney. Prominent styles include Gothic Revival, Georgian, Classical, Romanesque, Italianate, Federation, Edwardian, Second Empire, Queen Anne, as well as more contemporary styles. The first substantial buildings designed for Sydney were by transported convict Francis Greenway, who designed such buildings and structures as the Macquarie Lighthouse, Hyde Park Barracks, St James’ King Street and Government House.
The atrium of 1 Bligh Street, a contemporary example of Sydney’s architecture.
Other prominent architects were James Barnet, who designed the General Post Office, The Customs House, and various court houses; and Edmund Blacket, who designed St. Andrew’s Cathedral and St Philip’s Church.
More contemporary architecture includes the Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon. Described as an “artistic monument”, it is one of the most recognisable landmarks in both Sydney and Australia and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Harry Seidler built modernist homes and skyscrapers in Sydney, and designed prominent buildings such as the MLC Centre, the Capita Centre, andAustralia Square. Seidler’s designs contrasted with the “Sydney school” of the 1950s and 1960s, who favoured more natural and organic designs, often hidden from view in bushland. This style of architecture often utilised natural local materials as structural elements. These views were shared by Glen Murcutt, who believed that a building should blend in with its environment. Sydney has the largest skyline in Australia. Height restrictions limit future buildings to the height of 235 metres, in part due to the close proximity of Sydney Airport.
Sydney’s central business district, the financial and economic hub of Australia, seen from the Balmain wharf at dusk.
As the financial and economic hub of Australia, Sydney has grown to become a wealthy and prosperous city. The largest economic sectors in Sydney, as measured by the number of people employed, include property and business services, retail, manufacturing, and health and community services. Since the 1980s, jobs have moved from manufacturing to the services and information sectors. Sydney provides approximately 25 percent of the country’s total GDP. The Australian Securities Exchange and the Reserve Bank of Australia are located in Sydney, as are the headquarters of 90 banks and more than half of Australia’s top companies, and the regional headquarters for around 500 multinational corporations. Of the ten largest corporations in Australia by revenue, four have headquarters in Sydney: Caltex Australia, the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and Woolworths. Of the 54 authorised deposit-taking banks in Australia, 44 are based in Sydney including nine of the 11 foreign subsidiary banks in Australia and all of the 29 local branches of foreign banks. Major authorised foreign banks in Sydney include Citigroup, UBS Australia, Mizuho Corporate Bank, HSBC Bank Australia and Deutsche Bank. Shopping locations in Sydney include Pitt Street, George Street, King Street, Market Street, and Castlereagh Street, shopping complexes such as the Queen Victoria Building and Westfield Sydney, arcades such as The Strand Arcade and Mid City Centre, and department stores such as Myer andDavid Jones, all of which are in the shopping district in the city centre, a place to find major international brand name labels. Also in the city centre is Chinatown, which includes Paddys Markets, which is Sydney’s city markets, a place for bargain hunting.
Outside the city centre there are a number of other shopping destinations of interest. Inner eastern suburbs such as Potts Point, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills provide a diverse range of shops for the culturally creative and alternative lifestyle groups that live there, whilst other inner eastern areas like Paddington and Woollahra are home to boutiques selling more niche products. Inner western suburbs like Newtown and Glebe cater more towards students and alternative lifestyles. Double Bay in Sydney’s harbourside eastern suburbs is an upmarket area known for its expensive boutiques. Seaside areas, including Bondi Beach in the eastern beaches area and Manly in the northern beaches area, have a retail scene based upon their beach locations, with many surfing and surfer style clothing shops. Sydney received 7.8 million domestic visitors and 2.5 million international visitors in 2004. In 2007, the (then) Premier of New South Wales, Morris Iemma established Events New South Wales to “market Sydney and NSW as a leading global events destination”. Fox Studios Australia has large film studios in the city.
As of 2004, the unemployment rate in Sydney was 4.9 percent. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide cost of living survey, Sydney is the sixteenth most expensive city in the world, while a UBS survey ranks Sydney as 15th in the world in terms of net earnings. As of September 2009, Sydney has the highest median house price of any Australian capital city at $636,822, and a median unit price of $500,000. Sydney also has the highest median rent prices of any Australian city at $450 a week. The Sydney Region accounts for 12 percent (approximately $1 billion per annum) of the total agricultural production, by value, of NSW. Sydney provides 55% of NSW’s flower production and 58% of its turf production, as well as 44% of the state’s nurseries. In 1994–1995 Sydney produced 44% of New South Wales’ poultry meat and 48% of the state’s eggs.
The Great Synagogue caters to Sydney’s Jewish community, which dates back to the earliest days of the colony.
The 2006 census reported 4,119,190 residents in the Sydney Statistical Division, of which 3,641,422 lived in Sydney’s Urban Centre. Inner Sydney was the most densely populated place in Australia with 4,023 inhabitants per square kilometre (10,420 /sq mi). In the 2006 census, the most common self-described ancestries identified for Sydney residents were Australian, English, Irish, Scottish, and Chinese. The Census also recorded that 1.1% of Sydney’s population identified as being of indigenous origin, and 31.7% were born overseas.
Asian Australians made up 18.8% of the population in Sydney’s Urban Centre and 16.9% of the wider Statistical Division. The three major sources of immigrants are the United Kingdom, China and New Zealand, followed by Vietnam, Lebanon, India, Italy, and the Philippines. Many residents are native speakers of English; many have a second language, the most common being Arabic (predominantly Lebanese Arabic),Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek and Vietnamese. Sydney has the seventh-largest percentage of foreign-born individuals in the world. Immigrants account for 75% of Sydney’s annual population growth.
The median age of Sydney residents is 36; 15.4% of the population is over 65 years old. 15.2% of residents have educational attainment equal to at least a bachelor’s degree, In the 2011 census, 60.9% of the residents identified themselves as Christians, 17.6% had no religion, 7.6% left the question blank, 4.7% were Muslims, 4.1% were Buddhists, 2.6% were Hindus, 0.9% were Jewish and 1.6% were another religion.
Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach
As a dynamic cultural hub, Sydney has many fine and internationally known museums and galleries, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales, theMuseum of Contemporary Art, the White Rabbit Gallery, Brett Whiteley Studio, Museum of Sydney and the Powerhouse Museum, in addition to a thriving commercial gallery scene of contemporary art, mainly in the inner-city areas of Waterloo, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Paddington, Chippendale,Newtown and Woollahra.
Sydney hosts many different festivals and some of Australia’s largest social and cultural events. These include the Sydney Festival, Australia’s largest arts festival which is a celebration involving both indoor and free outdoor performances throughout January; the Biennale of Sydney dedicated to international and Australian contemporary art; the Big Day Out, a travelling rock-music festival which originated in Sydney; the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras along Oxford Street; the Sydney Film Festival and many other smaller film festivals such as the short film Tropfest and Flickerfest. Sculpture by the Sea, Australia’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibit, began at Bondi Beach in 1996.
Australia’s premier prize for portraiture, the Archibald Prize is organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Sydney Royal Easter Show is held every year at Sydney Olympic Park, the final of Australian Idol takes place on the steps of the Opera House, and Australian Fashion Week takes place in April/May and September. Sydney’s New Year’s Eve and Australia Day celebrations are the largest in Australia.
A survey based on tracking the frequency of words and phrases in the media, cited Sydney as number 9 on a list of the world’s top fashion cities in 2009. The city is the site of the world renowned Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, which occurs biannually, and is home to many of Australia’s premier fashion houses. Most international designers have a major presence in Sydney and Australia’s Next Top Model is one of the most watched shows on national television.
Entertainment and performing arts
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is one of the oldest and most prestigious music schools in Australia
Sydney’s cultural institutions include the Sydney’s famous Opera House. It has five halls, including a large concert hall and opera and drama theatres; it is the home of Opera Australia—the third-busiest opera company in the world, and the Sydney Symphony under the leadership of Vladimir Ashkenazy. Other venues include the Sydney Town Hall, City Recital Hall, the State Theatre, the Theatre Royal, Sydney, the Sydney Theatre and the Wharf Theatre, the Capitol Theatre and the Lyric and Star Theatres at The Star.
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music is located adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens and serves the Australian music community through music education and biannual Australian Music Examination Board exams. The Sydney Dance Company was under the leadership of Graeme Murphy during the late 20th century. The Sydney Theatre Company has a regular roster of local plays, such as noted playwright David Williamson, classics and international playwrights. In 2007, The New Theatre celebrated 75 years of continuous production in Sydney. Other important theatre companies in Sydney include Company B and Griffin Theatre Company. From the 1940s through to the 1970s the Sydney Push, a group of authors and political activists whose members included Germaine Greer, influenced the city’s cultural life. The National Institute of Dramatic Art, based in Kensington, boasts internationally famous alumni such as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann and Cate Blanchett. Sydney’s role in the film industry has increased since the opening of Fox Studios Australia in 1998.
There have been many prominent films that have used Sydney as a filming location or setting. The Great Gatsby, the most recent Hollywood production shot in Sydney, is expected to earn the New South Wales economy $120 million, with the shoot estimated to last seventeen weeks and another thirty weeks to be spent on post-production.Additionally, many Bollywood movies have also been filmed in Sydney including Singh Is Kinng, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Chak De India, Heyy Babyy. As of 2006, over 229 films have been set in, or featured Sydney. Sydney’s most popular nightspots include Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and The Rocks, which all contain various bars, nightclubs and restaurants. The Star is Sydney’s only casino and is situated around Darling Harbour. There are many traditional pubs, cafes and restaurants in inner-city areas such as Newtown, Balmain, Leichhardt and Surry Hills. Sydney’s main live music hubs include areas such as Newtown and Annandale, which nurtured acts such as AC/DC, Bliss n Eso, Sparkadia, Midnight Oil and INXS. Other popular nightspots tend to be spread throughout the city in areas such as Bondi, Manly, Cronulla and Parramatta.
Australian Aboriginal female, Sydney;
In the year ending March 2008, Sydney received 2.7 million international visitors. The most well-known attractions include the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other attractions include Royal Botanical Gardens,Luna Park, some 40 beaches and Sydney Tower.
Sydney also has several popular museums, such as the Australian Museum (natural history and anthropology), the Powerhouse Museum (science, technology and design), the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Sport and outdoor activities
Sport is an important part of Sydney’s culture. Sydney is the only city other than Brisbane and Melbourne to have an elite presence in the 4 major football codes of Australia – rugby league, soccer, rugby union and Australian rules football. Prominent sporting venues in Sydney include the Sydney Cricket Ground or SCG, ANZ Stadium, The Sydney Football Stadium, Eastern Creek Raceway, Royal Randwick and Rosehill Gardens Racecourse. Large sporting events such as the NRL Grand Final and Bledisloe Cup games are regularly held at the ANZ Stadium, the main stadium for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
The most popular sport in Sydney is rugby league. The NSWRFL (today known as the NRL) began in Sydney in the 1908 season and is the largest and most prestigious domestic rugby league competition in the Southern Hemisphere.
Cricket is the most popular summer sport in Sydney. The Ashes Series between Australia and England is widely popular among the people. As the state capital, Sydney is also the home of theNSW Blues cricket team in the Sheffield Shield cricket competition. Sydney Cricket Ground and ANZ Stadium host cricket matches. This city has also hosted 1992 Cricket World Cup and will also host the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The Sydney Cricket Ground is at present the only test venue in the city. Plans are going on to accommodate ANZ Stadium as an international cricket venue for Australia.
Soccer is represented by Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers FC of the A-League. The second tier competitions NSWPL and NSW Super League provide many players to the A-League. Sydney also hosts major soccer events of the national team, the Socceroos, most notably the World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay in 2005.
The NRL Grand Final is played in Sydney
Rugby Union is represented by the NSW Waratahs in the elite Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby competition.
The Suburban rugby competition is the Shute Shield which provides many Super 15 players. High profile Wallabies games are held in Sydney such as the Bledisloe Cup, Tri Nations matches, British and Irish Lions games, and most notably the final of the 2003 Rugby World Cup against England.
The city is represented in National Basketball League by the Sydney Kings. A women’s team, the Sydney Uni Flames, compete in the Women’s National Basketball League.
Sydney also has a women’s netball team (Swifts), a ABL baseball team (Sydney Blue Sox), a field hockey team (Waratahs), two ice hockey teams (Penrith Bears & Sydney Ice Dogs)
The city plays host to the Australian Drag Racing Nationals each year at Sydney Dragway
Other events in Sydney include the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Golden Slipper horse race, and the City to Surf race.
The ABC building in Ultimo
Sydney has two main daily newspapers. The Sydney Morning Herald is the oldest extant newspaper in Australia, having been published regularly since 1831. The Herald’s competitor, The Daily Telegraph, is a News Corporation-owned tabloid. Both papers have tabloid counterparts published on Sunday, The Sun-Herald and the Sunday Telegraph, respectively.
The three commercial television networks (Seven, Nine, Ten), as well as the government national broadcast services (ABC and SBS) are headquartered in Sydney. Also a community television station,TVS, broadcasts in the Sydney area. Historically, the networks have been based in the northern suburbs, but the last decade has seen several move to the inner city. Nine has kept its headquarters north of the harbour, in Willoughby. Ten has its studios in a redeveloped section of the inner-city suburb of Pyrmont, and Seven also has headquarters in Pyrmont, production studios at Epping as well as a purpose-built news studio in Martin Place in the CBD.
The ABC has a large headquarters and production facility in the inner-city suburb of Ultimo and SBS has its studios at Artarmon. Foxtel and Optus both supply pay-TV over their cable services to most parts of the urban area, and both have their national headquarters in the Northern suburb of North Ryde.
The five free-to-air networks have provided digital television transmissions in Sydney since January 2000. There are also nine additional Freeview Digital Services. These include ABC2, ABC3, ABC News 24, SBS Two, 7TWO, 7mate, GO!, GEM HD, ONE HD, Eleven and TVS.
Many AM and FM government, commercial and community radio services broadcast in the Sydney area. The local ABC radio station is 702 ABC Sydney (formerly 2BL). The talkback radio genre is dominated by the perennial rivals 2GB and 2UE. Popular Music radio stations include Triple M, 2Day FM and Nova 96.9, which generally target people under 40. In the older end of the music radio market, Classic Rock 95.3 and Mix 106.5 target the 25–54 age group, while WS-FM targets the 40–54 age group with their Classic Hits format mostly focusing on the 70s and 80s. Triple J (ABC), 2SERand FBi Radio provide a more independent, local and alternative sound. There are also a number of community stations broadcasting to a particular language group or local area.
On 1 July 2009, DAB+ Digital Radio officially started. ABC and commercial radios provide full programming.
Sydney’s Local Government Areas
Apart from the limited role of the Cumberland County Council from 1945–1964, there has never been an overall governing body for the Sydney metropolitan area; instead, the metropolitan area is divided into local government areas (LGAs) which are comparable to boroughs in cities such as London. These areas have elected councils which are responsible for functions delegated to them by the New South Wales State Government, such as planning and garbage collection.
The City of Sydney includes the central business area and some adjoining inner suburbs, and has in recent years been expanded through amalgamation with adjoining local government areas, such as South Sydney. It is led by the elected Lord Mayor of Sydney and a council. The Lord Mayor, however, is sometimes treated as a representative of the whole city, for example during the Olympics.
Most citywide government activities are controlled by the state government. These include public transport, main roads, traffic control, policing, education above preschool level, and planning of major infrastructure projects.
NSW Parliament House. The State Government controls most citywide activities.
Because a large proportion of the New South Wales population lives in Sydney, state governments have traditionally been reluctant to allow the development of citywide governmental bodies, which would tend to rival the state government. For this reason, Sydney has always been a focus for the politics of both state and federal parliaments. For example, the boundaries of the City of Sydney LGA have been significantly altered by state governments on at least four occasions since 1945, with expected advantageous effect to the governing party in the New South Wales Parliament at the time.
The classification of which councils make up Sydney varies. The Local Government Association of New South Wales considers all LGAs lying entirely in Cumberland County as part of its ‘Metro’ group, which excludes Camden (classed in its ‘Country’ group). The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines a Sydney Statistical Division (the population figures of which are used in this article) that includes all of the above councils as well as Wollondilly, the Blue Mountains,Hawkesbury, Gosford and Wyong.[
The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia
Sydney is home to some of Australia’s most prominent educational institutions. The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is Australia’s oldest university and the largest in Sydney. Other public universities located in Sydney include the University of Technology, Sydney, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, the University of Western Sydney and the Australian Catholic University (two out of six campuses). Other universities which operate secondary campuses in Sydney include the University of Notre Dame Australia, the University of Wollongong and Curtin University of Technology.
There are four multi-campus government-funded Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes in Sydney, which provide vocational training at a tertiary level: the Sydney Institute of Technology, Northern Sydney Institute of TAFE, Western Sydney Institute of TAFE and South Western Sydney Institute of TAFE. Sydney has public, denominational and independent schools. Public schools, including pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, and special schools are administered by the New South Wales Department of Education and Training. There are four state-administered education areas in Sydney, that together co-ordinate 919 schools. Of the 30 selective high schools in the state, 25 are in Sydney.[
Road transport and the motor vehicle are the main form of transports. The road system consists of an extensive network of freeways and toll roads (known as motorways). The most important trunk roads in the metropolitan area are the nine Metroads, which include the 110 km (68 mi) Sydney Orbital Network. According to the 2006 Census 85% of households own at least one automobile at an average of 1.5 per household and there are a total of over 2.1 million cars in the metropolitan area. Almost a third of the metropolitan area is dedicated to driving and parking. 61.8% of all Sydneysiders travel to work as either driver or passenger with a total of over 350,000 cars using the road infrastructure simultaneously during rush hour, causing significant traffic congestion.
The Anzac Bridge, spanning Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island in proximity to Sydney’s central business district, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background
Public transport in Sydney consists of an extensive network of road transport as well as rail transport and water transport modes. According to the 2006 Census, in terms of travel to work or study Sydney has the highest rate of public transport usage among the Australian capital cities of 26.3%. According to the New South Wales State Plan, the state has Australia’s largest public transport system.
Trains in Sydney are run by CityRail, a state-run corporation. Trains run as suburban commuter rail services in the outer suburbs, then converge in an underground city loop service in the central business district. In the years following the 2000 Olympics, CityRail’s performance declined significantly. In 2005, CityRail introduced a revised timetable and employed more drivers. A large infrastructure project, the Clearways project, is scheduled to be completed by 2010. In 2007 a report found Cityrail performed poorly compared to many metro services from other world cities. Figures released by RailCorp show that during the period of 2011/2012, 95.4% of trains arrived on time and 99.6% of services ran as scheduled. However, a survey conducted in September 2011 revealed that 6 of the 13 lines had a maximum load that exceeded 135% (of the seated capacity) during the peak morning commute.
Sydney was once served by an extensive tram network, which was progressively closed in the 1950s and 1960s. Sydney has one modern light rail line,Metro Light Rail, running from Central Railway Station to inner western suburb of Lilyfield, mostly along the route of a former goods train line. A monorail, Metro Monorail, runs in a loop around the main shopping district and Darling Harbour. It will cease operations in June 2013 and be dismantled thereafter. Most parts of the metropolitan area are served by buses. In the city and inner suburbs the state-owned Sydney Buses has a monopoly. Many of Sydney Buses routes follow the pre-1961 tram routes. In the outer suburbs, service is contracted to many private bus companies. Sydney has two rapid bus transitways called T-ways, built in areas of the western suburbs not previously well served by public transport. State government-owned Sydney Ferries runs numerous commuter and tourist ferry services on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.
Sydney Airport, in the suburb of Mascot, is Sydney’s main airport, and is one of the oldest continually operated airports in the world. The smaller Bankstown Airport mainly serves private and general aviation. There is a light aviation airfield at Camden. RAAF Base Richmond lies to the north-west of the city. The question of the need for a Second Sydney Airport has raised much controversy. A 2003 study found that Sydney Airport can manage as Sydney’s sole international airport for 20 years, with a significant increase in airport traffic predicted. The resulting expansion of the airport would have a substantial impact on the community, including additional aircraft noise affecting residents. Land has been acquired at Badgerys Creek for a second airport, the site acting as a focal point of political argument.
World cities rankings
Sydney is classified as an Alpha+ World City by the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) study group indicating its influence in the region and throughout the world, ranking among the top global cities in the world. In 2010, Sydney was ranked 7th in Asia and 28th globally for economic innovation in the Innovation Cities Top 100 Index by innovation agency 2thinknow.
Sydney also ranks among the top 10 most liveable cities in the world according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting, The Economist and Monocle and is considered among the top fashion capitals in the world. It was also ranked in the top 10 global university cities according to RMIT University —which limited its selection to cities already ranked in the “top 100 most liveable cities”.