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the capital of the Commonwealth of Australia and an important administrative, cultural, scientific, and business center. The city has been the site of the Australian Parliament and government since 1927.
Canberra is located in southeastern Australia, on a hilly plain at an elevation of 500–600 m, and has a subtropical continental climate. The city’s average temperature is 5.9°C in July and 20.7°C in January. Total annual precipitation is 620 mm. Area, 298 sq km; population, 141, 200 (1971). The city, together with its suburbs, forms an independent administrative unit, the Australian Capital Territory, with an area of 2, 369.5 sq km and a population of 143, 500 (1971). Canberra is linked by railroad lines with Sydney and Melbourne and is a junction of highway and airline routes. An airport is located near the city. Food and light industries play a leading role in the city’s economy. Farms near Canberra supply the city with meat, milk, fruit, and vegetables. Tourism plays a considerable role in Canberra’s economy, with more than 1 million tourists a year.
The founding of Canberra dates from the 1908–09 decision of the Australian Parliament establishing it as the site for the federal capital. Construction began in 1913 and followed the plans of an American architect, W. B. Griffin, who had won an international competition held by the Australian government in 1911–12. A garden city on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra is divided into commercial, administrative, and educational zones. The plan is based on a system of squares, with commercial centers and streets radiating from and encircling the squares. The districts are separated from each other by park zones and are linked by a well-developed network of highways and bridges. The city’s buildings are in a restrained, neoclassical style: for example, the Parliament building, built in 1927. The construction of buildings higher than ten or 11 stories is prohibited. The Australian National University, built in 1952 and designed by the architect B. B. Lewis, is among the city’s structures built in contemporary style.
The Australian National University, the National Library, and the Australian Academy of Sciences are located in Canberra. An important astronomical observatory is situated near the city, on Mount Stromlo. Canberra has a cultural center, with two auditoriums, several amateur theater troupes (companies), and the Albert Hall for concerts. There are also racecourses in the city.