Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of 403,468, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), 280 km (170 mi) south-west of Sydney, and 660 km (410 mi) north-east of Melbourne. A resident of Canberra is known as a "Canberran". Although Canberra is the capital and seat of government, many federal government ministries have secondary seats in state capital cities, as do the Governor-General and the Prime Minister.
The site of Canberra was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities. It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city outside of any state, similar to Washington, D.C. in the United States, or Brasília in Brazil. Following an international contest for the city's design, a blueprint by American architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin was selected and construction commenced in 1913. The Griffins' plan featured geometric motifs such as circles, hexagons and triangles, and was centred on axes aligned with significant topographical landmarks in the Australian Capital Territory.
The city's design was influenced by the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation. The growth and development of Canberra were hindered by the World Wars and the Great Depression, which exacerbated a series of planning disputes and the ineffectiveness of a procession of bodies that were created in turn to oversee the development of the city. The national capital emerged as a thriving city after World War II, as Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies championed its development and the National Capital Development Commission was formed with executive powers. Although the Australian Capital Territory is now self-governing, the Commonwealth Government retains some influence through the National Capital Authority.
As the seat of the government of Australia, Canberra is the site of Parliament House, the official residence of the Monarch's representative the Governor-General, the High Court and numerous government departments and agencies. It is also the location of many social and cultural institutions of national significance, such as the Australian War Memorial, Australian National University, Royal Australian Mint, Australian Institute of Sport, National Gallery, National Museum and the National Library. The Australian Army's officer corps is trained at the Royal Military College, Duntroon and the Australian Defence Force Academy is also located in the capital.
The ACT is independent of any state to prevent any one state from gaining an advantage by hosting the seat of Commonwealth power. The ACT has voting representation in the Commonwealth Parliament, and has its own independent Legislative Assembly and government, similar to the states.
As the city has a high proportion of public servants, the Commonwealth Government contributes the largest percentage of Gross State Product and is the largest single employer in Canberra, although no longer the majority employer. Compared to the national averages, the unemployment rate is lower and the average income higher; tertiary education levels are higher, while the population is younger. Property prices are relatively high, in part due to comparatively restrictive development regulations.