The population density of Sydney

 We know Sydney is big and it’s population is growing strongly, but how dense it it?

That’s a question the population forecasters at .iD answered.

They see population density analysis as an important way of maintaining or increasing living standards which currently make many cities in Australia quality places to live in for existing residents and a desirable destination for migrants from within Australia and from abroad.

Here’s what they found:

Greater Sydney

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 Greater Sydney 2011 population density (per km2) by SA1 geography

  • Sydney is Australia’s most densely populated capital city. The 3D map with extruded densities speaks for itself.
  • The 2011 SA1 based statistics indicate the population of Greater Sydney to be 4,608,949 and the 2014 preliminary estimated resident population to be 4,840,600 (source).
  • The population density of Greater Sydney, based on the population density figures of the 10,842 SA1s in the area is 390 persons per km2sardine population etc
  • Just within the central Sydney suburbs of Ultimo, Pyrmont, Surry Hills and Potts Point – there are 184 SA1s with a population density higher than 10,000 persons per km2.
    Of those, 89 have a density higher than 20,000 persons per km2 and five with densities of over 100,000 persons per km2 – those are all small SA1s which in most cases cover just the footprint of the high-rise apartment building/s with high populations (~300-2,000 persons).
    I wouldn’t be surprised if SA1 11703133712 (ABS 11-digit SA-1 code) was split up into two or three smaller units by the ABS in the future as the current population of the area (which encompasses a few apartment buildings) of approximately 2,199 in 2013 (2,156 at the time of the last Census) is the highest by far of all SA1s in Greater Sydney.
  • What else does the 3D map tell us, other than the fact that inner Sydney is a very densely populated place?
    North of “the bridge” for example, there are several areas along the M1 corridor which are highly populated areas – commercial/retail/residential activity centres such as Chatswood and St. Leonards in the City of Willoughby and further south, closer to the area zoned “Mixed use” around Milsons Point in North Sydney – with high rise apartment buildings wedged between Luna Park and the M1.
    Even the suburb of Artarmon has a few blocks of densely populated SA1s which stand out from the surroundings which tend to be mainly low-medium density stand alone housing or 3-5 storey flats.
  • On a macro scale, most of Greater Sydney, out to Parramatta and Liverpool maintains a relatively high density of population – roughly around 4,300 persons per km2 which can again be compared to the population densities of Stockholm in Sweden or Warsaw in Poland (link).
    The western urban corridor stretching from Blacktown, through to Penrith is clearly visible on the map, surrounded by large, low pop. density areas.
    The western-most cluster of population is Blaxland while to the south of Liverpool is the City of Campbelltown which weaves around either side of the Hume Motorway (M31).
  • North of the Parramatta River, the population density of places decreases, with Ryde and Hornsby having relatively low densities compared to their southern neighbours although there are a couple of exceptions in activity centres such as Eastwood (in Ryde) and the central Hornsby corridor along Pacific Highway.
  • Sydney’s famous beaches are also densely populated places – from Coogee up to North Manly and Dee-Why, the density of all SA1s just under 3,650 persons per km2 (roughly the population density of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia – link).
    Once you escape this hustle and bustle and get further north to Newport, Avalon Beach or Palm Beach – the urban footprint is still visible on the map but is lower than the southern beach areas.
  • The northern population clusters visible on the map, over the Hawksbury River are the City of Gosford, with an estimated population of 171,992 (in 2014) and the Wyong Shire suburbs of Berkley Vale, Killarney Vale and Long Jetty-Blue Bay, which hug Tuggerah Lake with a population of around 49,500 (density of approximately 2,160 persons per km2).

Factors which affect population density are physical and anthropogenic; Physical limitations which may increase/decrease or direct certain patterns of population density include geography/topography constraints, climate and accessibility to resources and services/remoteness.

Anthropogenic/human factors include political stability – people desire to live in an area which provides security and the ability to prosper, socioeconomic benefits and pull factors – such as cities and parts of cities which provide employment and education opportunities, as well as general attractiveness and desire to live in a city or certain parts of a city due to what it has to offer.

Source: Population densities of Australian Capital Cities by .iD


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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