At the 2011 Australian Census Burnie had an urban population of 19,819, making it the fourth largest city in Tasmania. Burnie together with nearby Wynyard had an estimated urban population of 26,869 at June 2015. Burnie is governed by the City of Burnie local government area.
The key industries are heavy manufacturing, forestry and farming. The Burnie port along with the forestry industry provides the main source of revenue for the city. Burnie was the main port for the west coast mines after the opening of the Emu Bay Railway in 1897. Most industry in Burnie was based around the railway and the port that served it.
After the hand over of the Surrey Hills and Hampshire Hills lots, the agriculture industry was largely replaced by forestry. The influence of forestry had a major role on Burnie's development in the 1900s with the founding of the pulp and paper mill by Associated Pulp and Paper Mills in 1938 and the woodchip terminal in the later part of the century. The Burnie Paper Mill closed in 2010 after failing to secure a buyer.
Tasmania's third largest hospital, The North West Regional Hospital is on Brickport Road. It provides both in and outpatient services for general medicine, general surgery, orthopaedics and paediatrics.
Burnie has a central business district with several national retailers. Just outside the CBD there are other major retailers including: Harvey Norman Superstore; Spotlight; Godfreys; SuperCheap Auto.
Other amenities include the multi-function "Burnie Arts and Function Centre" (formerly known as the Civic Centre), post office, police station, supreme court, public and private hospital, as well as numerous sporting and social organisations.
Burnie is also home to the Cradle Coast campus of the University of Tasmania, and campuses of the Tasmanian Polytechnic and the Tasmanian Academy. The University of Tasmania campus includes the Cuthbertson Research Laboratores run by the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research.
Burnie Airport is located in the adjacent town of Wynyard, a 20-minute drive from the City of Burnie.
Burnie Port is Tasmania's largest general cargo port and was once Australia's fifth largest container port. It is the nearest Tasmanian port to Melbourne and the Australian mainland. As with other ports in Tasmania, it is operated by the government owned TasPorts.
The port currently operates as a container port with a separate terminal for the exportation of woodchips. The port was planned to be expanded in 2013 so that it could accommodate extra freight from the proposed north-west mines in the Tarkine.
Burnie is connected with Devonport via the four lane Bass Highway and a rail link which is used for freight purposes. Burnie is also connected to the west coast of Tasmania by the Murchison Highway.
Bus service Metro Tasmania provides transport around the city and its suburbs., Redline Coaches provides daily coach services to several towns and to the city of Hobart.
Burnie has an oceanic climate with mild summers and cool winters. The average temperature in summer ranges from 12 to 21 °C with drier days as warm as 30 °C, with around 16 hours of sunlight per day. In winter, temperature ranges from 6 to 13 °C, and only 8 hours of sunlight. Relative humidity averages over 60% for the year in the afternoon.
Burnie averages 994 mm of rainfall per year. Most of the rain is during the cooler months from May to October. The summer months bring constant daily sunshine and only occasional rainfall with temperatures up to 30 °C on the warmest and driest days. Nearly every day from January to March has a maximum temperature of 20–25 °C.
Australian rules football is popular in Burnie. The city's team is the Burnie Dockers Football Club in the Tasmanian State League. Their ground is West Park Oval.
Rugby union is also played in Burnie. The local club is the Burnie Rugby Union Club. They are the current Tasmanian Rugby Union Statewide Division Two Premiers and were promoted to the Statewide First Division for the 2008 season. Their nickname is "The Mighty Emus". The club has been in existence since 1953 but at the end of the 1980s, were forced into a temporary absence from all competitions and relinquishing their place in the statewide First Division. Their home ground is Upper Burnie Sports centre. Gerry Horch is a past player, past president, life member, and local identity.
Soccer is also represented on the north coast with Burnie United FC having four teams compete in the northern premier league, the women's team, under 18 team, reserve team and division one team. recently last year they have entered two youth side in the under 16 and under 14 northern league.
Burnie hosts an ATP Challenger Tour tennis event, the Burnie International, during the week following the Australian Open.
Athletics events include the annual Burnie Gift and Burnie Ten.
The Advocate newspaper was established in 1890 servicing the North West region. The mailroom is located in Burnie whilst the local press operations ceased in mid-2008 and were relocated to Launceston..
Burnie has access to the ABC, SBS, WIN and Southern Cross television stations. The fifth channel, Tasmanian Digital Television, has recently started transmitting from the tower at Round Hill, east of the suburb of South Burnie.
There are two commercial radio stations, 7BU at 558 kHz on the AM band and Sea FM on 101.7 on the FM band. Many Melbourne radio stations can be received in Burnie.