Assemblies of God
The Assemblies of God the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is a group of over 140 autonomous but loosely associated national groupings of churches which together form the world's largest Pentecostal denomination. With over 397,000 ministers and outstations in over 256 countries and territories serving 69.1 million adherents worldwide, it is the fourth largest international Christian group of denominations and the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. As an international fellowship, the member denominations are independent and autonomous; the Assemblies originated from the Azusa Street Revival of the early 20th century. This revival led to the founding of the Assemblies of God in the United States in 1914. Through foreign missionary work and establishing relationships with other Pentecostal churches, the Assemblies of God expanded into a worldwide movement, it was not until 1988, that the world fellowship was formed. As a Pentecostal fellowship, the Assemblies of God believes in the Pentecostal distinctive of baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
The Assemblies of God should not be confused with the Assemblies of God International Fellowship, the International Assemblies of God Fellowship, the Independent Assemblies of God International, all of which are Pentecostal denominations. The World Assemblies of God Fellowship is structured as a loose alliance of independent national and regional Pentecostal denominations. For the particular beliefs and polity of individual national fellowships, refer to the links in the following list: The doctrinal position of the Assemblies of God is framed in a classical Pentecostal and an evangelical context; the AG is Trinitarian and holds the Bible as divinely inspired and the infallible authoritative rule of faith and conduct. Baptism by immersion is practiced as an ordinance instituted by Christ for those who have been saved. Baptism is understood as an outward sign of an inward change, the change from being dead to sin to being alive in Christ; as an ordinance, Communion is practiced. The AG believe that the elements that are partaken are symbols expressing the sharing the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Assemblies of God places a strong emphasis on the fulfillment of the Great Commission and believes that this is the calling of the church. As classical Pentecostals, the Assemblies of God believes all Christians are entitled to and should seek the baptism in the Holy Spirit; the AG teaches that this experience is subsequent to the experience of salvation. The baptism in the Holy Spirit empowers the believer for Christian service; the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues "as the Spirit gives utterance". It believes in the present-day use of other spiritual gifts and in divine healing. While the World AG Fellowship has a statement of faith which outlines the basic beliefs which unify the various branches of the movement, each national AG denomination formulates its own doctrinal statements; the Assemblies of God USA, for example, adheres to the Statement of Fundamental Truths. The Assemblies of God has its roots in the Pentecostal Azusa Street Revival of the early 20th century.
The Pentecostal aspects of the revival were not welcomed by established churches, participants in the movement soon found themselves forced outside existing religious bodies. These people sought out their own places of worship and founded hundreds of distinctly Pentecostal congregations. By 1914, many ministers and laymen alike began to realize just how far-reaching the spread of the revival and of Pentecostalism had become. Concerned leaders felt the desire to protect and preserve the results of the revival by uniting through cooperative fellowship. In April 1914, after splitting from the Church of God in Christ, about 300 preachers and laymen were invited from 20 states and several foreign countries for a general council in Hot Springs, United States. A remaining fellowship emerged from the meeting and was incorporated under the name General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America. In time, self-governing and self-supporting general councils broke off from the original fellowship or were formed independently in several nations throughout the world, originating either from indigenous Pentecostal movements or as a direct result of the indigenous missions strategy of the General Council.
In 1919, Pentecostals in Canada united to form the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada which formally affiliated with the Assemblies of God USA the next year. The Assemblies of God in Great Britain was formed in 1924 and would have an early influence on the Assemblies of God in Australia, now known as Australian Christian Churches; the Australian Assemblies of God was formed in 1937 by a merger of the Pentecostal Church of Australia and the Assemblies of God Queensland. The Queensland AG had formed in 1929; the Assemblies of God of South Africa was founded in 1925 and like the AG Queensland, was not aligned with the US fellowship. Prior to 1967, the Assemblies of God, along with the majority of other Pentecostal denominations opposed Christian participation in war and considered itself a peace church; the US Assemblies of God continues to give full doctrinal support to members who are led by religious conscience to pacifism. In 1988, the various Assemblies of God national fellowships united to form the World Pentecostal Assemblies of God Fellowship at the initiative of Dr. J. Philip Hogan executive director of the Division of Foreign Missio
Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, prayer, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations hold regular group worship services. Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism, it soon attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. During the first centuries of its existence Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, to Ethiopia and some parts of Asia. Constantine the Great decriminalized it via the Edict of Milan; the First Council of Nicaea established a uniform set of beliefs across the Roman Empire.
By 380, the Roman Empire designated Christianity as the state religion. The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, before their schisms. Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon over differences in Christology; the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism over the authority of the Pope. In 1521, Protestants split from the Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation, other ecclesiological and theological disputes. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity was spread into the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world, or 31.4% of the global population. Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy.
Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization around Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the New Testament, the names by which the disciples were known among themselves were "brethren", "the faithful", "elect", "saints" and "believers". Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as'The Way' coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD. While Christians worldwide share basic convcitions, there are differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and sacred traditions on which Christianity is based. Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds, they began as baptismal formulae and were expanded during the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith.
The Apostles' Creed is the most accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism and Western Rite Orthodoxy, it is used by Presbyterians and Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 9th centuries, its central doctrines are those of God the Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period; the creed was used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Its main points include: Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit The death, descent into hell and ascension of Christ The holiness of the Church and the communion of saints Christ's second coming, the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful; the Nicene Creed was formulated in response to Arianism, at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.
The Chalcedonian Definition, or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox churches, taught Christ "to be acknowledged in two natures, unchangeably, inseparably": one divine and one human, that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are also united into one person. The Athanasian Creed, received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: "We worship one God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity. Many evangelical Protestants reject creeds as definitive statements of faith while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. Most Baptists do not use creeds "in that they have not sought to establish binding
Brian Houston (pastor)
Brian Houston is an Australian pastor and evangelist. He is the founder and senior pastor at Hillsong Church, based in Sydney with locations around the world, he was the National President of the Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God, from 1997 to 2009. Houston was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on 17 February 1954, his parents and Hazel, were Salvation Army officers. When Houston was three his parents joined the Assemblies of God in New Zealand and began pastoring a church in Lower Hutt, near Wellington. Here Houston and his brother and three sisters spent their childhood. After completing school he went to a Bible college for three years. Shortly after completing college he met his future wife, Bobbie, on Papamoa Beach in New Zealand during a Christian convention, they were married in 1977. After moving to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in 1978, Houston served at the Sydney Christian Life Centre in Darlinghurst, where he became the assistant pastor to his father, Frank Houston.
In 1980 he started a church on the Central Coast and worked at a church in Liverpool in 1981. In 1983, Houston saw a need in Sydney's north-western suburbs and hired the Baulkham Hills Public School hall to start a new church, the Hills Christian Life Centre; the first service was held on Sunday, 14 August 1983. In May 1997, Houston was elected the president of the Assemblies of God in Australia after Andrew Evans' retirement, he helped to create the Australian Christian Churches network of Pentecostal churches in February 2000. This alliance represents over 200,000 members in affiliate churches and he was its inaugural president, he is a member of the Australian Pentecostal Ministers Fellowship. At the 2009 National Conference of Australian Christian Churches, Wayne Alcorn was voted in to replace Houston after he chose not to run again for the position. On 10 May 1999, Frank Houston handed Sydney Christian Life Centre to Brian Houston. Brian Houston said; this was. Fifteen years in 2014, Brian Houston spoke at hearings held by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, stating that he received an allegation in October 1999 that his father sexually abused an Australian under-age male.
Brian Houston's statement and the evidence submitted to the Royal Commission revealed that in November 1999, his father confessed of committing child sexual abuse. The findings of the Royal Commission have raised questions over the timing and motive of Brian's acquisition and renaming of his father's CLC empire to Hillsong between 1999 to 2004. From an initial congregation of 45 people, the combined churches grew to become Hillsong Church with a weekly attendance of over 35,000. In September 2018, Hillsong left the Australian Christian Churches to become an autonomous denomination, identifying itself more as a global and charismatic church. According to both Hillsong and ACC, the parting was amicable, he is an executive producer for Hillsong Music Australia, the music ministry of Hillsong Church. Their albums are distributed in nearly 90 countries, to date HMA have released 63 albums, with sales well into the millions; this music ministry has been successful over the years with chart topping albums from Hillsong United, Hillsong Live, the "worship expression" of Hillsong Church and incorporates their entire worship team.
Each year Hillsong records their annual live album, the songs from this live recording are sung by church congregations all over the world. Some of the most popular songs sung today in churches are Hillsong songs, including "Mighty to Save" and "Shout to the Lord" (which was featured on a special episode of American Idol called "Idol Gives Back" in 2008. Houston is the president of Hillsong International Leadership College. In 2010, Evening College was launched, with over 550 students, giving a total of 3,010 people being trained within Hillsong College; the college's students are from all over the world, representing over 70 different nationalities training full-time. Students can study pastoral leadership, worship music, TV and media or dance and receive a certificate and advanced diploma in ministry. Houston is the host of Brian Houston TV, a Christian weekly television program and is seen on TV screens in over 180 countries every week; this program airs daily, along with another program he hosts called Let's Talk with Brian Houston on Hillsong's television channel, the Hillsong Channel.
He leads the Hillsong Leadership Network which gives opportunities to connect with the Hillsong team and other pastors and leaders at events, open house events, informal gatherings and luncheons globally as well as annual leadership retreats in London and Sydney. Network members receive resources and online training services designed to equip church leaders; as of 2011 there are over 500 members from nearly 50 different countries around the world. Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie reside in the suburb of Glenhaven, Australia, they have three children, Joel and Laura. Joel is a musician, a songwriter, a creative director for Hillsong Church; as of 2010, he co-pastors Hillsong New York with Carl Lentz. Brian Houston has written several books. Below are details about his bibliography. Brian and Bobbie Houston's website Hillsong Church website Hillsong Church TV Hillsong Church Blog Site
A megachurch is defined by the Hartford Institute as any Protestant Christian church having 2,000 or more people in average weekend attendance. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term, first documented in 1984, as a church with an unusually large membership one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity and offering a variety of educational and social activities; the concept originated in the mid 19th century, continued into the mid 20th century as a phenomenon, expanded through the 1980s and 1990s. The origins of the megachurch movement, with a large number of local congregants who return on a weekly basis can be traced to the 1800s. There were large churches earlier in history, but they were rarer. Examples include Charles Spurgeon's Baptist Metropolitan Tabernacle in London which attracted 5,000 weekly for years in the late 19th century, religious broadcaster Aimee Semple McPherson's Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, of similar size. In 2010, the Hartford Institute's database listed more than 1,300 such Protestant churches in the United States.
On one weekend in November 2015, around one in ten Protestant churchgoers in the US, or about 5 million people, attended service in a megachurch. 3,000 individual Catholic parishes have 2,000 or more attendants for an average Sunday Mass, but they are not called megachurches as, a Protestant term. Globally, these large congregations are a significant development in Protestant Christianity. In the United States, the phenomenon has more than quadrupled in the past two decades, it has since spread worldwide. In 2007, five of the ten largest Protestant churches were in South Korea; the largest megachurch in the United States is Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas with more than 40,000 members every weekend and the current largest megachurch in the world is South Korea's Yoido Full Gospel Church, an Assemblies of God church, with more than 830,000 members as of 2007. Civil rights activist and Baptist minister Al Sharpton has claimed that megachurches focus on personal morality issues while ignoring social justice issues.
List of the largest evangelical churches List of megachurches in the United States
Hillsong Church is a charismatic Christian megachurch and Christian denomination originating from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The church was founded in 1983 called Hills Christian Life Centre, in Baulkham Hills, New South Wales, by Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie; the church is known for its worship music, with groups such as Hillsong Worship, Hillsong United and Hillsong Young & Free. A member of the Australian Christian Churches, it separated from ACC in 2018. According to the church, over 100,000 people attend services each week at the church or one of its 80 affiliated churches located worldwide. Hillsong is a megachurch, described by popular music scholar Tom Wagner as a "confluence of sophisticated marketing techniques and popular music"; the music of Hillsong United and Hillsong Worship are credited with driving Hillsong's global popularity. It was founded in 1983 inside a warehouse as Hills Christian Life Centre by former window cleaner Brian Houston and his wife Bobbie Houston.
Through the 1980s and 1990s the congregation grew from 45 members to nearly 20,000 and emerged as a significant influence in the area of contemporary worship music. This was a result of strategic marketing that targeted younger generations and Hillsong's success at establishing itself as a global music standard. Services were held at the Baulkham Hills Public School hall. In 1997 the church moved into its new building at Baulkham Hills' Norwest Business Park. A new convention centre at the church's "Hills" location, was opened on 19 October 2002 by John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia. During the 1990s, Kiev Christian life Centre, now Hillsong Kiev, London Christian Life Centre, now Hillsong London, were planted from the Hillsong Church as independent churches. In March 2007, Hillsong Kiev planted an offshoot church in Moscow, which started regular services in July 2007, it was announced in October 2007 that Phil Dooley and Lucinda Dooley would plant a Hillsong Church in South Africa in March 2008.
Hillsong Stockholm, Sweden known as Passion Church, was planted in 2008-2009. In 2009, a third campus, in Campbelltown, New South Wales, a fourth, in Mount Gravatt, were added. In 2015, there were three campuses in Melbourne. In February 2016 a campus was added in Northern Territory. 2017 brought a large expansion with Bali and Perth all being launched. In 2017 Hillsong announced that it would be opening a church in Israel. Hillsong United featured Daher Nassar, a Palestinian Christian, in their music video Prince of Peace; the video was recorded live in Israel and shows a stone at the entrance of Nassar's farm which has the words "We refuse to be enemies" written on it. In 2018 it was announced that Hillsong would be expanding into Canada and Mexico with the launch of Hillsong Ottawa on 23 September 2018 and Hillsong Monterrey that year. In September 2018, Hillsong left the Australian Christian Churches to become an autonomous denomination, identifying itself more as a global and charismatic church.
According to both Hillsong and ACC, the parting was amicable. The founders and Bobbie Houston, are the lead pastors of Hillsong Church; the church is governed by a board of elders. The elders lead the church spiritually as well as act as a board of directors; the members of "The Hillsong Eldership" are senior executive staff and business leaders from Hillsong's congregation. Elders are appointed with renewable terms. Hillsong's various ministries include Hillsong Music, Hillsong Kids, Hillsong Sisterhood, Hillsong Men, Hillsong Conference, Hillsong CityCare, Hillsong International Leadership College, Hillsong Channel, TV & Film, Hillsong Performing Arts Academy and Hillsong Health Centre, their total facilities are estimated to be worth around $100 million. Hillsong Young & Free is an Australian contemporary worship music group from Sydney, where they started making Christian music in 2012 at Hillsong Church, they have released two live albums, We Are Young & Free and Youth Revival, the studio album III and two extended play recordings, This Is Living and We Are Young & Free: The Remixes.
Bobbie Houston has been influential in Hillsong's ministry for women, called Sisterhood. She is a mentor to many of Hillsong's women leaders. Although Hillsong supports the traditional roles of wife and mother for women, the church's position is that their ministries "empower" women. Church members have described Hillsong's leadership development as a process that supports women's movement from timid, supportive wife into leadership roles within the Church; the Sisterhood is involved in issues like domestic violence and human trafficking. Their midweek gathering is for women, it is the foundation of Hillsong's women's ministries. The Thursday meeting for mothers and includes businesswomen, they have special quarterly "Sisterhood United" night meetings that include working women. Members of the church say that Bobbie's authority as a leader comes from "a pentecostal understanding of Spirit empowerment". In 1986 a social engagement program called CityCare was established offering various community services including personal development programs, counseling services, a health centre and youth mentoring.
CityCare's "street teams" worked within the community to care for and clothe the homeless. In 1986, the first Hillsong conference was held with 150 attendees. In 1999 Hillsong Church was founded when the Hills Christian Life Cent
Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Like other forms of evangelical Protestantism, Pentecostalism adheres to the inerrancy of the Bible and the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, it is distinguished by belief in the baptism in the Holy Spirit that enables a Christian to live a Spirit-filled and empowered life. This empowerment includes the use of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and divine healing—two other defining characteristics of Pentecostalism; because of their commitment to biblical authority, spiritual gifts, the miraculous, Pentecostals tend to see their movement as reflecting the same kind of spiritual power and teachings that were found in the Apostolic Age of the early church.
For this reason, some Pentecostals use the term Apostolic or Full Gospel to describe their movement. Pentecostalism emerged in the early 20th century among radical adherents of the Holiness movement who were energized by revivalism and expectation for the imminent Second Coming of Christ. Believing that they were living in the end times, they expected God to spiritually renew the Christian Church thereby bringing to pass the restoration of spiritual gifts and the evangelization of the world. In 1900, Charles Parham, an American evangelist and faith healer, began teaching that speaking in tongues was the Bible evidence of Spirit baptism and along with William J. Seymour, a Wesleyan-Holiness preacher, he taught that this was the third work of grace; the three-year-long Azusa Street Revival and led by Seymour in Los Angeles, resulted in the spread of Pentecostalism throughout the United States and the rest of the world as visitors carried the Pentecostal experience back to their home churches or felt called to the mission field.
While all Pentecostal denominations trace their origins to Azusa Street, the movement has experienced a variety of divisions and controversies. An early dispute centered on challenges to the doctrine of the Trinity; as a result, the Pentecostal movement is divided between trinitarian and non-trinitarian branches, resulting in the emergence of Oneness Pentecostals. Comprising over 700 denominations and a large number of independent churches, there is no central authority governing Pentecostalism. There are over 279 million Pentecostals worldwide, the movement is growing in many parts of the world the global South. Since the 1960s, Pentecostalism has gained acceptance from other Christian traditions, Pentecostal beliefs concerning Spirit baptism and spiritual gifts have been embraced by non-Pentecostal Christians in Protestant and Catholic churches through the Charismatic Movement. Together and Charismatic Christianity numbers over 500 million adherents. While the movement attracted lower classes in the global South, there is an increasing appeal to middle classes.
Middle class congregations tend to be more adapted to society and withdraw strong spiritual practices such as divine healing. Pentecostalism is an evangelical faith, emphasizing the reliability of the Bible and the need for the transformation of an individual's life through faith in Jesus. Like other evangelicals, Pentecostals adhere to the Bible's divine inspiration and inerrancy—the belief that the Bible, in the original manuscripts in which it was written, is without error. Pentecostals emphasize the teaching of the "full gospel" or "foursquare gospel"; the term foursquare refers to the four fundamental beliefs of Pentecostalism: Jesus saves according to John 3:16. The central belief of classical Pentecostalism is that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, sins can be forgiven and humanity reconciled with God; this is the Gospel or "good news". The fundamental requirement of Pentecostalism is; the new birth is received by the grace of God through faith in Christ as Savior. In being born again, the believer is regenerated, adopted into the family of God, the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification is initiated.
Classical Pentecostal soteriology is Arminian rather than Calvinist. The security of the believer is a doctrine held within Pentecostalism. Pentecostals believe in both a literal heaven and hell, the former for those who have accepted God's gift of salvation and the latter for those who have rejected it. For most Pentecostals there is no other requirement to receive salvation. Baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are not required, though Pentecostal converts are encouraged to seek these experiences. A notable exception is Jesus' Name Pentecostalism, most adherents of which believe both water baptism and Spirit baptism are integral components of salvation. Pentecostals identify three distinct uses of the word "baptism" in the New Testament: Baptism into the body of Christ: This refers to salvation; every believer in Christ is made a part of the Church, through baptism. The Holy Spirit is the agent, the body of Christ is the medium. Water baptism: Symbolic of dying to the world and liv
Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders"; as of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to 65% of the state's population. Indigenous Australians have inhabited the Sydney area for at least 30,000 years, thousands of engravings remain throughout the region, making it one of the richest in Australia in terms of Aboriginal archaeological sites. During his first Pacific voyage in 1770, Lieutenant James Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to chart the eastern coast of Australia, making landfall at Botany Bay and inspiring British interest in the area.
In 1788, the First Fleet of convicts, led by Arthur Phillip, founded Sydney as a British penal colony, the first European settlement in Australia. Phillip named the city Sydney in recognition of 1st Viscount Sydney. Penal transportation to New South Wales ended soon after Sydney was incorporated as a city in 1842. A gold rush occurred in the colony in 1851, over the next century, Sydney transformed from a colonial outpost into a major global cultural and economic centre. After World War II, it experienced mass migration and became one of the most multicultural cities in the world. At the time of the 2011 census, more than 250 different languages were spoken in Sydney. In the 2016 Census, about 35.8% of residents spoke a language other than English at home. Furthermore, 45.4% of the population reported having been born overseas, making Sydney the 3rd largest foreign born population of any city in the world after London and New York City, respectively. Despite being one of the most expensive cities in the world, the 2018 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranks Sydney tenth in the world in terms of quality of living, making it one of the most livable cities.
It is classified as an Alpha+ World City by Globalization and World Cities Research Network, indicating its influence in the region and throughout the world. Ranked eleventh in the world for economic opportunity, Sydney has an advanced market economy with strengths in finance and tourism. There is a significant concentration of foreign banks and multinational corporations in Sydney and the city is promoted as Australia's financial capital and one of Asia Pacific's leading financial hubs. Established in 1850, the University of Sydney is Australia's first university and is regarded as one of the world's leading universities. Sydney is home to the oldest library in Australia, State Library of New South Wales, opened in 1826. Sydney has hosted major international sporting events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics; the city is among the top fifteen most-visited cities in the world, with millions of tourists coming each year to see the city's landmarks. Boasting over 1,000,000 ha of nature reserves and parks, its notable natural features include Sydney Harbour, the Royal National Park, Royal Botanic Garden and Hyde Park, the oldest parkland in the country.
Built attractions such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the World Heritage-listed Sydney Opera House are well known to international visitors. The main passenger airport serving the metropolitan area is Kingsford-Smith Airport, one of the world's oldest continually operating airports. Established in 1906, Central station, the largest and busiest railway station in the state, is the main hub of the city's rail network; the first people to inhabit the area now known as Sydney were indigenous Australians having migrated from northern Australia and before that from southeast Asia. Radiocarbon dating suggests human activity first started to occur in the Sydney area from around 30,735 years ago. However, numerous Aboriginal stone tools were found in Western Sydney's gravel sediments that were dated from 45,000 to 50,000 years BP, which would indicate that there was human settlement in Sydney earlier than thought; the first meeting between the native people and the British occurred on 29 April 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook landed at Botany Bay on the Kurnell Peninsula and encountered the Gweagal clan.
He noted in his journal that they were somewhat hostile towards the foreign visitors. Cook was not commissioned to start a settlement, he spent a short time collecting food and conducting scientific observations before continuing further north along the east coast of Australia and claiming the new land he had discovered for Britain. Prior to the arrival of the British there were 4,000 to 8,000 native people in Sydney from as many as 29 different clans; the earliest British settlers called the natives Eora people. "Eora" is the term the indigenous population used to explain their origins upon first contact with the British. Its literal meaning is "from this place". Sydney Cove from Port Jackson to Petersham was inhabited by the Cadigal clan; the principal language groups were Darug and Dharawal. The earliest Europeans to visit the area noted that the indigenous people were conducting activities such as camping and fishing, using trees for bark and food, collecting shells, cooking fish. Britain—before that, England—and Ireland had for a long time been sending their convicts across the Atlantic to the American colonies.
That trade was ended with the Declaration of Independence by the United States in 1776. Britain decided in 1786 to found a new penal outpost in the territory discovered by Cook some 16 years ear