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Melbourne city profile | city data
  • Melbourne has long been a significant gathering place for Aboriginal Australians of the Kulin Nation.
  • It has been named ‘most liveable city’ by the Economist six years in a row.
  • Attracting major events and festivals to Melbourne is a priority for the state of Victoria, which views this as key to driving tourism and economic growth.

City data: Key facts

  • Geographical area: 9,991 sq. km
  • Total population: 4,850,740
  • GDP (PPP) million: $204,346

The Yarra River – known as Birrarung in local language – has always been, and continues to be, a significant meeting place for people of the Eastern Kulin Nation, Melbourne’s traditional custodians.

Running through the suburbs to the central city, the Yarra leads to the heart of Melbourne’s arts precinct, home to the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Theatre Company, Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts, Melbourne Recital Centre and the University of Melbourne Faculty of Fine Arts and Music among many others. Significant investment is focused in this area, ensuring that the public space outside these iconic institutions is as democratic and inspiring as what happens inside them. An original public art commission, a new national contemporary art gallery, and a redesign of the precinct’s public realm will continue to strengthen Melbourne’s renowned cultural reputation.

Consistently recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities, Melbourne’s greatest strength comes from its diversity. With a population from more than 200 countries, speaking 260 languages and practicing 135 faiths, 34% of the city’s residents were born outside of Australia. This breadth of experiences and perspectives gives rise to a vibrant creative output that includes nearly 400 festivals and celebrations, and more than 550 live music venues.

Echoing the experiences of cities around the world, the live performances, creative sector and unique small-business culture of Melbourne have been profoundly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic enduring severe successive lockdowns. Visitor pedestrian activity dropped 91% on 2019 levels, impacting retail pedestrian activity, which fell by 93%. With work-from-home directives in place, city office occupancy dropped to as low as 4%. Melbourne’s international student population also declined, and while the city has started to welcome some back, there are currently 50% fewer international students in the state compared to March 2020.

Cost of living pressures continue to rise in Melbourne, as they do throughout Australia, with a significant number of renters suffering financial stress. Many long-term city dwellers chose to take advantage of remote-working arrangements, leaving metropolitan Melbourne for one of the state’s burgeoning regional areas. As incomes fail to keep pace with surging housing costs, there is a clear and growing need for investment in social housing across the nation.

At a local level, Melbourne is investing boldly to revitalise its economy and become a city of possibilities; to build visitation and the clustering of people, productivity, skills and talents that power economic growth. Employing more than 80 artists to reimagine the city’s laneways and shopfronts, and quadrupling its grants programme for artists, Melbourne is showcasing its creative culture including a keen focus on arts projects by Aboriginal artists.

Melbourne’s festival scene, from YIRRAMBOI – Australia’s premier First Nations arts festival – to the Grand Prix, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, RISING Festival, and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, is enjoying the return to in-person events. The city is investing AUD $21.5 million in major events, building Covid-confidence in both the sector and audiences, who remain passionate about arts and culture. Yirramboi means ‘tomorrow’ in the shared local languages of the Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung peoples. As Melbourne reignites, it does so with a vision of a shared tomorrow in which arts and culture continuously evolve, inspire and create thriving, connected communities.