Melbourne is often referred to as the cultural capital of Australia and has been ranked as one of the top three World's Most Liveable Cities by the Economist Group's Intelligence Unit.
The state capital of Victoria hosts the Australian headquarters of many multinational corporations and as a result the city's skyline is developing at a rapid pace. Melbourne's major industries include the automobile industry, financial sector, information technology and tourism.
The Victoria-based city is an increasingly popular tourist destination, with just under 16 million domestic and over one million international tourists visiting throughout 2009, visiting for a wide range of reasons. In 2008 the city overtook Sydney in terms of the amount of money spent by domestic tourists within the cities, spending accounting for just under AU$16bn of the city's annual economy.
Melbourne frequently hosts major sporting events, notably the Australian Open (tennis), Melbourne Cup (horse racing) and Australian Grand Prix, and in 2010 the city was named the world's ultimate sports city by SportBusiness.
Other tourists visit for cultural and fashion events. The Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Melbourne Fringe Festival are among the many festivals that take place in Australia's second largest metropolis. Melbourne boasts Australia's oldest and largest gallery, the National Gallery of Victoria, and is also renowned for its street art.
Melbourne, often perceived to be hipper than Sydney, also has a diverse service industry comprising upmarket restaurants and wine bars, jazz venues and dance clubs
Other popular locations include Federation Square, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Eureka Skydeck, the southern hemisphere's highest vantage point. Melbourne, often perceived to be hipper than its fierce rival Sydney, also has a diverse service industry comprising upmarket restaurants and wine bars, jazz venues and dance clubs. And it has a vibrant gay community and gay-friendly bars are found across the city.
Melbourne is the centre of Australia's automotive industry and includes Ford, Toyota and Holden's manufacturing facilities and company headquarters. As well as these three big car manufacturers, the state of Victoria also houses over 100 Australian, European, Japanese and American component manufacturers, which collectively accounts for AU$5bn in annual component production.
Melburnian automotive manufacturing history began with Eclipse Motors, a company established in the 1920s for the purpose of imported automobile distribution in Australia. The business expanded into automobile production at Port Melbourne because building automobiles within Australia negated the need to pay onerous import taxes, while the government, keen to create employment, did all it could to support the nascent industry.
Port Melbourne's assembly plant had the capacity to assemble about 100 vehicles per day. By 1956, the Standard Motor Company employed over 1,600 workers there and the company had an extensive dealer network all over Australia. In 2008, Australia produced over 170,000 vehicles for domestic sale.
Information and communication technologies (ICT)
Australia has the 12th largest ICT market globally and the fifth largest in the Asia Pacific region. Melbourne is a major technology hub and employs one third of Australia's ICT workforce, accounting for 84,000. Demand for IT jobs in the city is expected to grow 75% by 2013.
Melbourne's ICT industry has a turnover around AU$28bn and export revenues of AU$615m. From 2008 to 2009 the country's ICT industry was estimated to have generated up to AU$98bn in revenue.
Australia ranks ninth in the world in terms of overall e-readiness, a measure of the quality of a country's ICT infrastructure and the ability of its consumers, businesses and governments to obtain economic and social benefit from ICTs.
The financial service sector in Melbourne has grown significantly during the last decade and the city has become an important financial hub, with approximately half of Australia's funds and superannuation (pension) assets managed in Melbourne.
There are almost 120 fund managers operating in the city and fund management is a major growth sector. According to statistics from the financial services consultancy Osborne Consulting Group, Australia's fund management and pension funds sector has grown to a total value of AU$1tn and is projected to grow to AU$2.5tn over the coming years.
Other significant financial sectors include banking (investment, retail, commercial and wholesale), stock broking, insurance, fund management, venture capital firms and financial planning, for example, when buying a venture from among businesses for sale in Melbourne.
Financial firms are found all around the city, but a heavy concentration is found in the Docklands. Two of the big four banks, NAB (National Australia Bank) and ANZ (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) are headquartered in Melbourne Docklands. Other global financial service leaders, such as Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, also have headquarters in Melbourne.
Of the AU$1tn currently invested in Australia, 40% - AU$400bn - is under management in the city.