Australians are unfailingly cheerful people, and with good reason. The country has one of the world’s most robust economies, basically on par—up until the recent world financial crises—with the dominant Western European economies. Inflation and unemployment are low, the housing market is booming, and the country enjoys strong economic ties with China, all of which has resulted in 16 years of economic expansion and a government budget surplus since 2002.
In the unofficial capital city of Sydney—the country’s actual seat of government is the small and bucolic Canberra—the 2000 Olympics set development on fast forward with an explosion of improvements in transportation infrastructure and civic amenities, as well as a rash of new luxury waterfront hotels and high-rises. Today, this glittering city is truly Australia’s economic gateway.
Sydney offers residents and visitors the best of many worlds. One can find the sunny, balmy weather and easy-going beach culture of Southern California; the European sophistication of London; and the multicultural, urban aspects of San Francisco. As an American, Sydney’s pioneering spirit and youthfulness as a country reminded me of the United States 50 years ago, and I felt immediately at home.