From its early beginnings, Townsville has capitalised on its low level terrain and relatively low tropical rainfall to provide an efficient access route and service center for North Queensland. It provides the northern link for State and Federal Governments, as well as for private enterprise in primary and secondary industries, mining, commerce, retail, and community and cultural services. The City of Townsville is widely regarded as the capital of North Queensland.
Townsville encompasses a major urban coastal area, a restricted rural area, mountain ranges, a major offshore island (Magnetic Island) and a number of smaller islands and rock shoals including Herald and Rattlesnake Islands.
Townsville has a spatial area of 3735.6 square kilometers. The City of Townsville comprises an area of 1868.7 square kilometres and the City of Thuringowa covers an area of 1866.9 square kilometers.
Townsville shares its boundaries with the Shires of Burdekin to the south, Dalrymple to the west, and Hinchinbrook to the north.