South Australia was officially settled as a new British province on December 28, 1836 (commemorated as a public holiday, Proclamation Day) and the site of the new city was surveyed and laid-out by Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of South Australia. Light chose, not without opposition, a site on rising ground close to the River Torrens, which became the chief early water supply for the fledgling colony. "Light's vision", as it has been termed, has meant that the initial design of Adelaide required little modification as the city grew and prospered. Usually in an older city, it would be necessary to accommodate larger roads and add parks, whereas Adelaide had them from the start.
Adelaide was established as the centre of a planned colony of free immigrants, promising freedom from religious persecution and civil liberties and as such does not share the convict history of other Australian cities, like Sydney and Hobart. Coincidental to that fact, the name Adelaide comes from the German words meaning “Noble Birth”.
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Adelaide is the home of two Australian Football League (Australia's own football code) teams: the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power. It is also the host of the annual Tour Down Under bicycle race.
Adelaide has sometimes been referred to as the 'City Of Churches', although this is a reflection more on Adelaide's past than its present. Adelaide's cultural life flourished in the 1970s under the leadership of premier Don Dunstan, removing some of the more puritanical restrictions on cultural activities then prevalent around Australia. Now the city is home to events such as the Barossa Music Festival, the Adelaide Festival and the Fringe Festival, among others. Adelaide also hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix for 10 years ending in the late 1990s.
Much of the area around Adelaide was once used for wine grape production, so that large wine growing districts (such as the Barossa valley, for which Adelaide and South Australia are well known) remain within a short drive of the city outskirts.
Many musical bands and personalities come from Adelaide. They include :Lleyton Hewitt (world champion tennis player), Ian, Greg and Trevor Chappell (cricket players) and Andy Thomas (astronaut).
The city is also home to the University of South Australia (UniSA), the University of Adelaide and the Flinders University, which are all well respected research and teaching institutions.
Adelaide is served by Adelaide International Airport.
Adelaide has large manufacturing and research centres. It contains automobile manufacturing plants for both General Motors Holden and Mitsubishi, as well as a military research institution DSTO (the Defence Science and Technology Organisation) at Salisbury (a suburb 20kms north of the Adelaide City centre). Other industries include ore and oil refining, defence, and electronic component production. Because of cheaper standard of living and a smaller population base, wages in Adelaide (as well as Australia generally) tend to be lower than in other countries (such as those in the European Union, and the USA), which results in people with outstanding qualifications tending to go elsewhere. This is a problem that South Australia must deal with soon, if its research and development is not going to stagnate.
The collapse of the State Bank in 1992 resulted in huge levels of state debt, which have only recently been reduced. This has meant that successive governments have enacted lean budgets, cutting spending, which has been a large setback to the further development of the city and state.