When one thinks of Australia, the first city that comes to mind is Sydney.
Location: South-east coast
Climate: Mediterranean - hot in summer and generally mild but rainy in winter
Geography: Situated on a spectacular harbour with mountains to south and west
Interesting fact: The first white settlement of Australia was made in Sydney in 1788
And rightly so, because Australia's largest and most cosmopolitan city is the country's capital in everything but name.
Not only is Sydney the economic powerhouse of the nation, but it is also one of the great international cities of the world.
This could clearly be seen when the capital of New South Wales, Australia's most heavily populated state, put on a spectacular display when hosting the 2000 Olympic Games.
As one of the world's most beautiful and famous harbours, Sydney makes the perfect backdrop to any major event.
Its visual highlights are plentiful, including the Harbour Bridge, Centrepoint Tower, The Rocks, the stunning harbour and the white sands of Bondi Beach.
But perhaps the city's most enduring and famous landmark is the Opera House.
Though not as large as one might think, the grand white structure, designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon and built in 1973, has become synonymous with everything that is Sydney and its image is known the world over.
The city's historical roots can be seen just south of Sydney central at Botany Bay, where Captain James Cook first anchored in 1770.
The first white settlement of Australia began 18 years later, when Governor Phillip landed with the first fleet of convicts and settlers at Sydney Cove.
Since then, the settlement has grown into the sprawling metropolis it is today - a centre of commerce, culture and fun.
But Sydney is more than just a built-up city - it is also home to beautiful National Parks, the Royal Botanic Gardens, many harbour-front picnic locations and heritage areas.
A trip further out gives visitors a chance to try Sydney's impressive array of beaches including the world famous Bondi and Manly, while the Blue Mountains are a feast for all travellers.
Without a doubt, Sydney, with its vibrant sights and sounds, has more than enough to keep even the most ardent tourist occupied.