Gilmore, G., Wyse, R.F.G., & Kuijken, K. 1989, Ann. Rev. Astr. Ap., 27, 555.
The physical characteristics of the Galaxy are described and discussed in terms of the origin of the Galaxy. The information about early Galactic evolution provided by density laws and data on chemical abundances, kinematics, and ages of stars near the sun is reviewed. Recent results regarding the shape of the stellar distribution in the Galactic spheroid are summarized and the importance of observed relations betweeen kinematics and chemistry is discussed. Available data and analyses are reviewed to show that the sum of all available information strongly suggests that the extreme Population II subdwarf system formed during a short-lived period of dissipative collapse of the proto-Galaxy. The nature and evolutionary status of the thick disk is examined, and the status of 'missing' matter in the thin disk is reviewed.