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Port Lincoln is situated on the eastern coast of the southern extremity of the Eyre Peninsula. It is the largest city in the West Coast region, and is located approximately 280 kilometres (straight line – 646 km by road) from the capital city Adelaide. Port Lincon has a population of about 13,000 (2006). Port Lincoln and its suburbs comprise the City of Port Lincoln local government area. Port Lincoln is in the state electoral district of Flinders and the federal Division of Grey.
The Eyre Peninsula has been home to Aboriginal people for thousands of years, with the Nauo (south western Eyre), Barngarla (eastern Eyre), Wirangu (north western Eyre) and Mirning (far western Eyre) being the predominant original cultural groups present at the time of the arrival of Europeans. British naval explorer Matthew Flinders discovered the harbour in February 1802. Because of its particularly good harbour, he named it Port Lincoln rather than just Lincoln, where Flinders came from. It is thought that only the lack of a reliable nearby water supply stopped Port Lincoln becoming the state capital of the future South Australia. Even as a small town, Port Lincoln outgrew its fresh water supplies, which is now supplied mostly from the underground aquifers to the south of Port Lincoln although recently the great water supply system on Eyre Peninsula has been connected to Murray water via the addition of a link from Kimba to Whyalla.
The economy is based on the huge grain-handling facilities (a total capacity of over 337,500 tonnes), the canning and fish processing works, lambs, wool and beef, and tuna farming for the Japanese market. Home of Australia's largest commercial fishing fleet, Port Lincoln now has a thriving aquaculture industry that farms the following species: tuna, yellowtail kingfish, abalone, mussels, oysters, and experimental farming in seahorses and spiny lobsters. Before the advent of aquaculture, the main fishing was for Southern bluefin tuna. Tourism is becoming increasingly important, thanks to the scenic beauty and coastal locality. Ready access to both Spencer Gulf and the Great Australian Bight mark Port Lincoln out as a blue water playground for yachting, scuba diving, shark cage diving and game fishing. The city also functions as a regional centre for government administration, corporate services and commerce to Eyre Peninsula; however, many State Government functions are gradually being phased out as State Government becomes more centralised in Adelaide.