Key facts about NSW

Information about the population, culture, geography and regions of New South Wales.

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Sydney is the capital of New South Wales (NSW). The city of Sydney is located on the eastern coast of NSW.


Nearly a third of all Australians live in New South Wales, with most living in the state capital of Sydney. NSW is Australia's largest state economy.

NSW has the highest population of any state in Australia, with 8,172,500 residents as of 31 December 2020.

Roughly 64.5% of the state's population live in Greater Sydney.

NSW has the fastest growing population in Australia growing by roughly 106,100 people annually. Greater Sydney and Newcastle have the highest population densities in the state, with 391 and 423 people per square kilometre.


More than 275 different languages are spoken and 144 religions are practised in NSW. Almost a third of NSW residents were born overseas, while 37% had both parents born overseas. NSW's top five fastest-growing migrant groups are from Asia.

Top five languages spoken at home in NSW


Number of people



















Source: ABS Census 2016

Aboriginal people in NSW

New South Wales has Australia’s largest population of Aboriginal Australians.

Find out more about Aboriginal culture and heritage

Geography of NSW

The state of NSW is divided by natural features into four distinct geographical sections.

The Coast

A thin coastal strip stretching along 1460 km from the subtropical Northern Rivers region near Queensland, through the mid-north Coast, Hunter, Sydney, Illawarra and Shoalhaven down to the cooler far south coast.

The Mountains

The Great Dividing Range, which includes the Snowy Mountains, the Northern, Central and Southern Tablelands, the Southern Highlands, and the South West Slopes. Although these mountains aren't steep, many peaks rise above 1000 metres high, and they are one of the oldest mountain chains on earth.

The Central Plains

The cultivated central plains spread 500 km from east to west and are the agricultural powerhouse of the NSW economy due to the rich, fertile soil and adequate water supply.

The Western Plains

The arid Western Plains cover more than two thirds of the state, though they are sparsely populated compared to the coastal regions. The land is fertile but has low levels of rainfall and inadequate river systems.

Find out more about visiting and exploring NSW regions

Learn more about the geology and geotrails of NSW

Regions in NSW

To look after agricultural production advice, biosecurity, natural resources and emergency management, the NSW Government has a dedicated Local Land Services (LLS) agency. LLS set 11 regional boundaries after consulting with the community. The regional areas has set by LLS are

To find your region visit Local Land Services

Councils in NSW

There are many local government councils within NSW. Each local council provides a range of services to you every day, such as roads and footpaths, rubbish collection services, libraries and community centres, water and sewer, community services and events, planning and infrastructure, and recreation facilities.

Find out more about local government councils


At more than half-a-trillion dollars, NSW is Australia’s largest state economy. The state has a diversified, service driven economy.

The industries that are the largest contributors to the economy are:

  • business services (which includes financial services, real estate services and information media and telecommunications)
  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • health
  • education.

The largest areas of employment are:

  • health
  • retail trade and professional services
  • scientific and technical services.

Find out more about the NSW economy

Credit rating

NSW has been assessed to have the highest possible credit rating, AAA, by both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. NSW is one of only two states with a triple-A credit rating. This rating was given because of the state’s strong, stable economy and financial management.

NSW has a strong institutional framework and a diverse economy, and is focused on investing in areas where it is most needed in order to strengthen our economy further.

Visit NSW Treasury to find out more about the Triple-A credit rating and what it means for the state's economy.

Aboriginal family
NSW has Australia's largest population of Aboriginal Australians.
Community members
People from around 225 birthplaces have made NSW their home.
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