Victoria began in the 1830s as a farming community when the Hentys settled at Portland, Melbourne being founded soon after. With the discovery of gold in 1851 and Victorian independence from New South Wales, it was transformed into a leading industrial and commercial centre of the nation. In 1901, it became a part of the Commonwealth of Australia. Melbourne became the economic centre of both Australia and neighbour New Zealand at the time.
The Victorian economy is the second largest in Australia, accounting for a quarter of the nation's gross domestic product. The total gross state product at current prices for Victoria was at just over A$222 billion, with a GSP per capita of A$44,443. The economy grew by 3.4% in 2004, less than the Australian average of 5.2%. Finance, insurance and property services form Victoria's largest income producing sector, while the community, social and personal services sector is the state's biggest employer. Despite the shift towards service industries, the troubled manufacturing sector remains Victoria's single largest employer and income producer.