Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and the third largest city of Australia, with a population of over 2 million people and a total area of almost 6,000 km², making it qua area one of the world's largest cities. Brisbane's commercial centre lies along the meandering Brisbane River, about 15 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. The city is an important industrial and service centre with a busy port. Since the mid-1900s, many new industrial and residential areas have been built in the suburbs.
The British explorer John Oxley was the first European to reach the area of the Yuggera Aboriginal people, where Brisbane now stands, in 1823. A year later a prison settlement was established here by Sir Thomas Brisbane, the governor of New South Wales and the city that grew around it was later named after him. In 1839 the convicts were removed and three years later the area was opened to free settlers. In 1859 Brisbane became the capital of the colony of Queensland and the city has been steadily growing since then.
Brisbane is now a thoroughly modern city, its central business district dominated by steel and glass office towers, but with examples of earlier architecture still present among these. In 1988 the World Expo was held on the South Bank of the Brisbane river, as part of Australia's bicentennial celebration. After the fair all structures were dismantled, with the exception of the exquisite Nepalese pavilion and an attractive park was developed here, including a swimming lagoon.