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For the local government area, see City of Brisbane.

For the central business district, see Brisbane central business district. The metropolitan area extends in all directions along the floodplain of the Brisbane River Valley between Moreton Bay and the Great Dividing Range, sprawling across several of Australia's most populous local government areas (LGAs), most centrally the City of Brisbane, which is by far the most populous LGA in the nation. One of the oldest cities in Australia, Brisbane was founded upon the ancient homelands of the indigenous Turrbal and Jagera peoples.

During World War II, Brisbane became central to the Allied campaign when the AMP Building (now called Mac Arthur Central) was used as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas Mac Arthur, chief of the Allied Pacific forces, until his headquarters were moved to Hollandia in August 1944.

Mac Arthur had previously rejected use of the University of Queensland complex as his headquarters, as the distinctive bends in the river at St Lucia could have aided enemy bombers.

In 2016, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network ranked Brisbane as a Beta world city.Named after the Brisbane River on which it is located – which in turn was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825 – the area was chosen as a place for secondary offenders from the Sydney Colony.A penal settlement was founded in 1824 at Redcliffe, 28 kilometres (17 mi) north of the central business district, but was soon abandoned and moved to North Quay in 1825, opening to free settlement in 1842.The Moreton Bay area was initially explored by Matthew Flinders.On 17 July 1799, Flinders landed at what is now known as Woody Point, which he named "Red Cliff Point" after the red-coloured cliffs visible from the bay.

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