The results of the latest Australian census reported that the population of Melbourne in 2011 was 3,999,982; only just short of 4 million. This makes Melbourne the second largest city in Australia, behind Sydney. Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria, and is by far the largest city in the state; in fact, around 75% of the population of Victoria lives in Melbourne.
The estimated total population of the Greater Melbourne Area in 2017 was standing at 4,850,740, as of the end of the month of June that year.
City Size and Population Density
The total area the Melbourne occupies covers a total of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi). The population density in the city comes to about 500 residents living per square kilometer.
Demographics of Melbourne
Melbourne is one of Australia's most diverse cities - 33.2% of its residents in 2006 were born outside of Australia. The city has attracted waves of immigrants over the years (more about this in our population history section below) and, as well as a large (around 150,000) British community, there are more than 50,000 people in Melbourne who were born in each of the following countries: China, Greece, India, Italy, New Zealand and Vietnam.
Looking further back to ancestry, 43.3% of Melbourne's population reported that they had British or Irish ancestry, 28.2% reported Australian ancestry, and 18.2% reported that they had Asian ancestry (including 6.5% who reported Chinese ancestry).
When it comes to religion Christianity is, like in most Australian cities, the most widely followed religion; 55.8% of respondents in the 2011 census reported that they were Christians (broken down as 27.2% Catholic, 22.7% Protestant and 5.8% Orthodox). Other major religious groups are Buddhist 4.0%, Muslim 3.2%, Hindu 2.0% and Jewish 1.1%. Another 23.5% of Melbourne residents reported that they had no religion.
History of Melbourne and Population Growth
Founded in 1835 by two separate groups of settlers, Melbourne formally became a town in August 1842 and was declared a city by Queen Victoria in 1847. And not a moment too soon, because in the 20 years between its founding in 1835 and 1854, midway through Victoria's gold rush, Melbourne's population had grown from zero to 123,000.
The wealth that came from the gold rush led to the construction of many more brick buildings, from banks to universities, many of which still exist today and give the town its distinctive Victorian architecture. The obvious prosperity of Melbourne attracted even more immigrants and fuelled Melbourne's development, turning it into a boom town. By 1880 the city had increased in size to 280,000 and ten years later in 1890 its population had almost doubled again to 490,000.
The inevitable crash that followed led the city's population to alternately stagnate and grow slowly, and it wasn't until the eve of the second World War (WWII) that the population edged over 1 million. Since then, growth has been steady, and Melbourne has cemented its position as one of Australia's two largest cities.
As well as being populous, Melbourne is a rapidly growing city. In between the 2006 and 2011 census, its recorded population growth was an impressive 9.7%, taking the city from 3,647,021 in 2006 to 3,999,982 in 2011. If Melbourne continues to grow at this kind of rate, it is likely that it will surpass Sydney to become Australia's largest city within 25 years or so.