Since its foundation as a colonial outpost, the city has grown from the mouth of Sullivans Cove to stretch in a generally north-south direction along both banks of the Derwent River, from 22 km inland from the estuary at Storm Bay to the point where the river reverts to fresh water at Bridgewater. Hobart has experienced both booms and busts over its history. The early 20th century saw a period of growth on the back of mining, agriculture and other primary industries, and the loss of men who served in world wars was counteracted by an influx of immigration after World War II. In the later years of the 20th century, migrants increasingly arrived to settle in Hobart from Asia. Despite the rise in migration from parts of the world other than the United Kingdom and Ireland, the population of Hobart remains predominantly ethnically Anglo-Celtic and has the highest percentage per capita of Australian-born residents among the Australian capital cities.
In June 2016, the estimated greater area population was 224,462. The city is located in the state's south-east on the estuary of the Derwent River, making it the most southern of Australia's capital cities. Its harbour forms the second-deepest natural port in the world. Its skyline is dominated by the 1,271-metre (4,170 ft) kunanyi/Mount Wellington, and much of the city's waterfront consists of reclaimed land. It is the financial and administrative heart of Tasmania, serving as the home port for both Australian and French Antarctic operations and acting as a major tourist hub, with over 1.192 million visitors in 2011/2012. The metropolitan area is often referred to as Greater Hobart, to differentiate it from the City of Hobart, one of the five local government areas that cover the city.
The first European settlement began in 1803 as a military camp at Risdon Cove on the eastern shores of the Derwent River, amid British concerns over the presence of French explorers. In 1804, along with the military, settlers and convicts from the abandoned Port Phillip settlement, the camp at Risdon Cove was moved by Captain David Collins to a better location at the present site of Hobart at Sullivans Cove. The city, initially known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, was named after Lord Hobart, the British secretary of state for war and the colonies.
The area's indigenous inhabitants were members of the semi-nomadic Mouheneener tribe. Violent conflict with the European settlers, and the effects of diseases brought by them, dramatically reduced the aboriginal population, which was rapidly replaced by free settlers and the convict population. Charles Darwin visited Hobart Town in February 1836 as part of the Beagle expedition. He writes of Hobart and the Derwent estuary in his Voyage of the Beagle:
...The lower parts of the hills which skirt the bay are cleared; and the bright yellow fields of corn, and dark green ones of potatoes, appear very luxuriant... I was chiefly struck with the comparative fewness of the large houses, either built or building. Hobart Town, from the census of 1835, contained 13,826 inhabitants, and the whole of Tasmania 36,505.