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Melbourne

Melbourne is often described  as one of the world's most "livable" cities. (© istockphoto.com/Flavia Bottazzini) Melbourne is often described as one of the world's most "livable" cities. (© istockphoto.com/Flavia Bottazzini)

It's rare to find anyone who lives in Melbourne who doesn't adore it. They are much more passionate about it than Sydneysiders are of their city, and it shows. I'm biased, of course, because I've chosen it for my home and here are just a few of the reasons why. Victoria's capital and Australia's largest city, Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bun) is a cultural melting pot. For a start, more people of Greek descent live here than in any other city except Athens. Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese, and Lebanese immigrants have all left their mark. Almost one-third of Melbournians were born overseas or have parents who were born overseas. With such a diverse population, and with trams rattling through the streets and stately European architecture surrounding you, you could forget you're in Australia.

Melbourne, which has a population of well over three million, is at the head of the pack when it comes to shopping, restaurants, fashion, music, nightlife, and cafe culture. It frequently beats out other state capitals in bids for major concerts, plays, exhibitions, and sporting events, such as the Formula One Grand Prix.

Melbourne's roots go back to the 1850s, when gold was found in the surrounding hills. British settlers took up residence and prided themselves on coming freely to their city, rather than having been forced here in convict chains. The city grew wealthy and remained a conservative bastion until World War II, when another wave of immigration, mainly from southern Europe, made it a more relaxed place.

So when Melbourne is described -- as it often is -- as one of the world's most "livable" cities, I'm happy to agree.

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