Located in the south-eastern part of the Central Region, the Central Area consists of eleven constituent planning areas, the Downtown Core, Marina East, Marina South, the Museum Planning Area, Newton, Orchard, Outram, River Valley, Rochor, the Singapore River and Straits View, as defined by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The term Central Business District (CBD) has also been used to describe most of the Central Area as well, although its boundaries lie within the Downtown Core.
The Central Area surrounds the banks of the Singapore River and Marina Bay where the first settlements on the island were established shortly after the arrival of Raffles in 1819. Surrounding the Central Area is the rest of the Central Region. The Central Area shares boundaries with the planning areas of Novena to the north, Kallang to the north and north-east, Tanglin to the north-west and west, Bukit Merah to the south-west and Marine Parade to the east. The south-easternmost limits of the city is enclosed in by Marina Barrage, where the mouth of Marina Bay meets the Singapore Strait. The Central Area is one of the most densely developed places in Singapore, with a large mix of commercial and residential developments packed into a space of only 1784 hectares.