Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia. It is the fourth most populous city in Australia, with an estimated population of 1.9 million living in Greater Perth. Part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, the majority of the metropolitan area of Perth is located on the Swan Coastal Plain, a narrow strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp, a low coastal escarpment. The first areas settled were on the Swan River, with the city's central business district and port (Fremantle) both located on its shores. Perth is formally divided into a number of local government areas, which themselves consist of a large number of suburbs, extending from Two Rocks in the north to Rockingham in the south, and east inland to The Lakes.
Perth was originally founded by Captain James Stirling in 1829 as the administrative centre of the Swan River Colony, and gained city status in 1856 (currently vested in the smaller City of Perth). The city is named for Perth, Scotland, by influence of Sir George Murray, then British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The city's population increased substantially as a result of the Western Australian gold rushes in the late 19th century, largely as a result of emigration from the eastern colonies of Australia. During Australia's involvement in World War II, Fremantle served as a base for submarines operating in the Pacific Theatre, and a US Navy Catalina flying boat fleet was based at Matilda Bay. An influx of immigrants after the war, predominantly from Britain, Greece, Italy and Yugoslavia, led to rapid population growth. This was followed by a surge in economic activity flowing from several mining booms in the late 20th and early 21st centuries that saw Perth become the regional headquarters for a number of large mining operations located around the state.
As part of Perth's role as the capital of Western Australia, the state's Parliament and Supreme Court are located within the city, as well as Government House, the residence of the Governor of Western Australia. Perth became known worldwide as the "City of Light" when city residents lit their house lights and streetlights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead while orbiting the earth on Friendship 7 in 1962. The city repeated the act as Glenn passed overhead on the Space Shuttle in 1998. Perth came 9th in the Economist Intelligence Unit's August 2012 list of the world's most liveable cities, and was classified by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network in 2010 as a world city.
Parks and Recreation:
Kings Park, located in central Perth between the CBD and the University of Western Australia, is one of the world's largest inner-city parks, at 400.6 hectares (990 acres). Perth Zoo, located in South Perth, houses a variety of Australian and exotic animals from around the globe. The zoo is home to highly successful breeding programs for orangutans and giraffes, and participates in captive breeding and reintroduction efforts for a number of Western Australian species, including the numbat, the dibbler, the chuditch, and the western swamp tortoise.
Museums and Galleries:
The Western Australian Museum holds an extensive display of Aboriginal artefacts as well as numerous zoological and social exhibits. The new (2002) Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle displays maritime objects from all eras and includes a former Royal Australian Navy submarine. It also houses Australia II, the yacht that won the 1983 America's Cup. The Art Gallery of Western Australia houses the State Art Collection. It curates and hosts numerous impressive visiting exhibitions, like the 2006 Norman Lindsay exhibition. Additional exhibits occur at PICA and many other smaller venues on a regular basis across Perth.
There are several heritage buildings located in Perth's CBD. Several of these, such as Bishop's House and St George's House have been repurposed for commercial use. Old Perth Boys School is currently undergoing a refurbishment (due to be opened in 2012) as part of the City Square project. A number of the historic buildings are being converted into luxury accommodation and entertainment venues.