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Adelaide is South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital. Its ring of parkland on the River Torrens is home to renowned museums such as the Art Gallery of South Australia, displaying expansive collections including noted Indigenous art, and the South Australian Museum, devoted to natural history.
Early colonial Adelaide was shaped by the diversity and wealth of its free settlers, in contrast to the convict history of other Australian cities. It has been noted for its leading examples of religious freedom and progressive political reforms, and became known as the "City of Churches" due to its diversity of faiths. Today, Adelaide is noted for its many festivals and sporting events, its food and wine, its coastline and hills, and its large defence and manufacturing sectors. Adelaide's quality of life has ranked consistently highly in various measures through the 21st century.
Within the city centre, there are other designations used to describe various areas, the broadest being:
The city "square mile", bordered by North, East, South and West Terraces, part of which is referred to as the CBD (most of the northern half), as well a mixture of high-rise apartments and various commercial and entertainment premises scattered throughout, and the smaller cottage residences (mostly in the southern half).
Within the "square mile", there are also defined precincts such as the West End and the East End with distinctive characters.
The section of the parklands between North Terrace up to the River Torrens, which includes the string of medical, educational, cultural and entertainment institutions on the northern side of North Terrace, notably the Adelaide Festival Centre as well as the Parliament of South Australia and Adelaide Railway Station. Part of this area is sometimes referred to as the North Terrace cultural precinct.
Other well-known institutions within the city centre are the Adelaide Central Market, Victoria Square and Rundle Mall shopping area.