Early Adelaide was shaped by prosperity and wealth—until the Second World War, it was Australia's third-largest city and one of the few Australian cities without a convict history.
As South Australia's seat of government and commercial centre, Adelaide is the site of many governmental and financial institutions.
Wool production provided an early basis for the South Australian economy.
By 1860, wheat farms had been established from Encounter Bay in the south to Clare in the north.
Trade links with the rest of the Australian states were established with the Murray River being successfully navigated in 1853 by Francis Cadell, an Adelaide resident.
South Australia became a self-governing colony in 1856 with the ratification of a new constitution by the British parliament.
The site of the colony's capital was surveyed and laid out by Colonel William Light, the first Surveyor-General of South Australia, through the design made by the architect George Strickland Kingston.
Drought and poor harvests from 1884 compounded the problems, with some families leaving for Western Australia.The rural area surrounding Adelaide was surveyed by Light in preparation to sell a total of over 405 km (156 sq mi) of land.Adelaide's early economy started to get on its feet in 1838 with the arrival of livestock from Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.Gas street lighting was implemented in 1867, the University of Adelaide was founded in 1874, the South Australian Art Gallery opened in 1881 and the Happy Valley Reservoir opened in 1896.In the 1890s Australia was affected by a severe economic depression, ending a hectic era of land booms and tumultuous expansionism.Most of these are concentrated in the city centre along the cultural boulevard of North Terrace, King William Street and in various districts of the metropolitan area.Today, Adelaide is noted for its many festivals and sporting events, its food and wine, its long beachfronts, and its large defence and manufacturing sectors.It ranks highly in terms of quality of life, being consistently listed in the world's top 10 most liveable cities, out of 140 cities worldwide by The Economist Intelligence Unit.Prior to its proclamation as a British settlement in 1836, the area around Adelaide was inhabited by the indigenous Kaurna Aboriginal nation (pronounced "Garner").Financial institutions in Melbourne and banks in Sydney closed.The national fertility rate fell and immigration was reduced to a trickle.