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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
City guide: Perth
Perth may claim to be the sunniest state capital in Australia but it is also the country's most isolated.

The Perth sky line
Population: 1.1m
Location: South-west coast
Climate: Hot dry summers and mild winters: Australia's sunniest state
Geography: Situated on the Swan River, close to the coast
Interesting fact: Perth is closer to Singapore than to Sydney

Situated on the south-western tip of Australia, Perth is closer to Singapore than to Sydney.

So it is not surprising that astronaut John Glenn referred to it as the "City of Lights" after his historic fly-over in 1962.

The sheer expanse of the bush surrounding Perth explains why 80% of the Western Australian population live in and around the city.

The city, as we know it today, was founded over 150 years ago as the Swan River settlement.

But it was not until 1850, when convicts were brought in to alleviate the labour shortage, Perth began to grow.

Many of the buildings that can still be seen in Perth, such as Government House and Perth Town Hall, were built by convicts.

However, it was only after the discovery of gold near the turn of the century that the city's population growth and development started to match that of its eastern neighbours.

These days, Perth is a vibrant cosmopolitan city which still enjoys Mediterranean climate and rightly claims to offer more hours of sunshine than any other Australian state capital.

While sterile skyscrapers dominate the city centre, further out there is plenty of natural beauty to behold with Indian Ocean beaches, the hillside hideaways and scenic bushland not far away.

Kings Park, situated around the green slopes of Mt Eliza, is just a short walk from the city centre and offers great views of the surrounding area and the distant blue hills of the Darling Ranges.

The bustling seaport of Freemantle lies 19km south-west of Perth where the Swan River meets the Indian Ocean and its historic heritage is clear for all to see.

Just off the coast is Rottnest Island, boasting crystal clear beaches and bays which make it perfect for a host of water sports.

In fact, Perth is obsessed with sport - with cricket, football, rugby and Australian rules football attract crowds throughout the year.

With all this, it is easy to see why most paint Perth as bright, fun and a '"laid-back place to visit", forgetting how it is one of the most isolated cities in the world.

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