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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.

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.

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.In 1942 Brisbane was the site of a violent clash between visiting US military personnel and Australian servicemen and civilians which resulted in one death and hundreds of injuries.This incident became known colloquially as the Battle of Brisbane.Sir Thomas Brisbane visited the settlement and travelled 28 miles up the Brisbane River in December 1824, bestowing upon Brisbane the distinction of being the only Australian capital city set foot upon by its namesake.German missionaries settled at Zions Hill, Nundah as early as 1837, five years before Brisbane was officially declared a free settlement.

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