Cairns is the 5th-most-populous city in Queensland. It was founded in 1876, hastened by the need to export gold discovered on the tablelands to the west of the inlet. The estimated residential population of the Cairns region was 162,451 as at 30 June 2016. The region has experienced an average annual growth rate of 2.1% over the last 10 years.

Cairns is a popular tourist destination because of its tropical climate and access to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.