Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia. With a population of 1,554,769 (2007), Perth ranks fourth amongst the nation's cities, with a growth rate consistently above the national average.
Perth was founded on 12 June 1829 by Captain James Stirling as the political centre of the free settler Swan River Colony. It has continued to serve as the seat of Government for Western Australia to the present day. Its port, Fremantle is a city in its own right and slightly older than Perth.
The metropolitan area is located in the south west of the continent between the Indian Ocean and a low coastal escarpment known as the Darling Range. The central business district and suburbs of Perth are situated on the Swan River. Perth is ranked 4th on The Economist's 2008 list of the World's Most Livable Cities.
Perth became known worldwide as the "City of Lights" as city residents lit their houselights and streetlights as American astronaut John Glenn passed overhead while orbiting the earth on Friendship 7 in 1962. The city repeated its feat as Glenn passed overhead on the Space Shuttle in 1998.