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It is documented that Aborigines spoke languages that can be classified into about groups. After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in , who named it New Holland , Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January , a date which became Australia's national day.
The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established. On 1 January , the six colonies federated , forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy comprising six states and ten territories.
Australia is a highly developed country , with the world's 13th-largest economy. It has a high-income economy , with the world's tenth-highest per capita income. Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as " New Holland ", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in as Nieuw-Holland and subsequently anglicised.
Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts. The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar 's poem " My Country ". Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun around 65, to 70, years ago,   with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia.
The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland, and the first recorded European landfall on the Australian continent in , are attributed to the Dutch. The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the Duyfken captained by Dutch navigator, Willem Janszoon. With the loss of its American colonies in , the British Government sent a fleet of ships, the " First Fleet ", under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip , to establish a new penal colony in New South Wales.
A camp was set up and the flag raised at Sydney Cove , Port Jackson , on 26 January ,  a date which became Australia's national day, Australia Day. A British settlement was established in Van Diemen's Land , now known as Tasmania, in , and it became a separate colony in South Australia in , Victoria in , and Queensland in The indigenous population, estimated to have been between , and 1,, in ,  declined for years following settlement, mainly due to infectious disease. A gold rush began in Australia in the early s  and the Eureka Rebellion against mining licence fees in was an early expression of civil disobedience.
On 1 January , federation of the colonies was achieved after a decade of planning, consultation and voting. Melbourne was the temporary seat of government from to while Canberra was being constructed. Britain's Statute of Westminster formally ended most of the constitutional links between Australia and the UK. Australia adopted it in ,  but it was backdated to to confirm the validity of legislation passed by the Australian Parliament during World War II.
Since the s and following the abolition of the White Australia policy , immigration from Asia and elsewhere was also promoted. Since the election of the Whitlam Government in ,  there has been an increasing focus in foreign policy on ties with other Pacific Rim nations, while maintaining close ties with Australia's traditional allies and trading partners. The world's smallest continent  and sixth largest country by total area ,  Australia—owing to its size and isolation—is often dubbed the "island continent",  and is sometimes considered the world's largest island.
This exclusive economic zone does not include the Australian Antarctic Territory. Mount Augustus , claimed to be the world's largest monolith,  is located in Western Australia. Australia's size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with tropical rainforests in the north-east, mountain ranges in the south-east, south-west and east, and dry desert in the centre.
The northernmost point of the east coast is the tropical-rainforested Cape York Peninsula. The landscapes of the Top End and the Gulf Country —with their tropical climate—include forest, woodland , wetland, grassland , rainforest and desert. To the south of these and inland, lie more areas of grassland: Prominent features of the centre and south include Uluru also known as Ayers Rock , the famous sandstone monolith, and the inland Simpson , Tirari and Sturt Stony , Gibson , Great Sandy, Tanami , and Great Victoria deserts, with the famous Nullarbor Plain on the southern coast.
Lying on the Indo-Australian Plate , the mainland of Australia is the lowest and most primordial landmass on Earth with a relatively stable geological history. The Pilbara Craton is one of only two pristine Archaean 3. Having been part of all major supercontinents , the Australian continent began to form after the breakup of Gondwana in the Permian , with the separation of the continental landmass from the African continent and Indian subcontinent.
It separated from Antarctica over a prolonged period beginning in the Permian and continuing through to the Cretaceous. Then between about 8, and 6, BC, the lowlands in the north were flooded by the sea, separating New Guinea, the Aru Islands , and the mainland of Australia. The Australian mainland and Tasmania are situated in the middle of the tectonic plate , and currently have no active volcanoes,  but due to passing over the East Australia hotspot , recent volcanism has occurred during the Holocene , in the Newer Volcanics Province of western Victoria and southeastern South Australia.
Volcanism also occurs in the island of New Guinea considered geologically as part of the Australian continent , and in the Australian external territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands. The climate of Australia is significantly influenced by ocean currents, including the Indian Ocean Dipole and the El Niño—Southern Oscillation , which is correlated with periodic drought , and the seasonal tropical low-pressure system that produces cyclones in northern Australia.
Much of the northern part of the country has a tropical, predominantly summer-rainfall monsoon. The interior is arid to semi-arid. According to the Bureau of Meteorology 's Australian Climate Statement, Australia had lower than average temperatures in as a consequence of a La Niña weather pattern; however, "the country's year average continues to demonstrate the rising trend in temperatures, with — likely to rank in the top two warmest year periods on record for Australia, at 0.
Water restrictions are frequently in place in many regions and cities of Australia in response to chronic shortages due to urban population increases and localised drought.
Australia's carbon dioxide emissions per capita are among the highest in the world, lower than those of only a few other industrialised nations. Although most of Australia is semi-arid or desert, it includes a diverse range of habitats from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests.
Feral cats may have been introduced in the 17th century by Dutch shipwrecks, and later in the 18th century by European settlers. They are now considered a major factor in the decline and extinction of many vulnerable and endangered native species. Australian forests are mostly made up of evergreen species, particularly eucalyptus trees in the less arid regions; wattles replace them as the dominant species in drier regions and deserts. Many of Australia's ecoregions, and the species within those regions, are threatened by human activities and introduced animal, chromistan , fungal and plant species.
Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy  with Elizabeth II at its apex as the Queen of Australia , a role that is distinct from her position as monarch of the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen is represented in Australia by the Governor-General at the federal level and by the Governors at the state level, who by convention act on the advice of her ministers.
The Governor-General does have extraordinary reserve powers which may be exercised outside the Prime Minister's request in rare and limited circumstances, the most notable exercise of which was the dismissal of the Whitlam Government in the constitutional crisis of The federal government is separated into three branches:.
In the Senate the upper house , there are 76 senators: Australia's electoral system uses preferential voting for all lower house elections with the exception of Tasmania and the ACT which, along with the Senate and most state upper houses, combine it with proportional representation in a system known as the single transferable vote.
Voting is compulsory for all enrolled citizens 18 years and over in every jurisdiction,  as is enrolment with the exception of South Australia. In cases where no party has majority support, the Governor-General has the constitutional power to appoint the Prime Minister and, if necessary, dismiss one that has lost the confidence of Parliament.
There are two major political groups that usually form government, federally and in the states: Treasurer Scott Morrison was elected as party leader and was sworn in as prime minister later that day. In most respects these two territories function as states, except that the Commonwealth Parliament has the power to modify or repeal any legislation passed by the territory parliaments. Under the constitution, the States essentially have plenary legislative power to legislate on any subject, whereas the Commonwealth federal Parliament may legislate only within the subject areas enumerated under section For example, State parliaments have the power to legislate with respect to education, criminal law and state police, health, transport, and local government, but the Commonwealth Parliament does not have any specific power to legislate in these areas.
Each state and major mainland territory has its own parliament — unicameral in the Northern Territory, the ACT and Queensland, and bicameral in the other states. The states are sovereign entities, although subject to certain powers of the Commonwealth as defined by the Constitution. The head of the government in each state is the Premier and in each territory the Chief Minister. The Queen is represented in each state by a Governor ; and in the Northern Territory, the Administrator.
The Commonwealth Parliament also directly administers the following external territories: Australia is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations , in which the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings provide the main forum for co-operation.
A founding member country of the United Nations, Australia is strongly committed to multilateralism  and maintains an international aid program under which some 60 countries receive assistance. The titular role of Commander-in-Chief is vested in the Governor-General , who appoints a Chief of the Defence Force from one of the armed services on the advice of the government.
A wealthy country, Australia has a market economy , a relatively high GDP per capita, and a relatively low rate of poverty. In terms of average wealth, Australia ranked second in the world after Switzerland in , although the nation's poverty rate increased from An emphasis on exporting commodities rather than manufactured goods has underpinned a significant increase in Australia's terms of trade since the start of the 21st century, due to rising commodity prices.
Australia was the only advanced economy not to experience a recession due to the global financial downturn in — The Hawke Government floated the Australian dollar in and partially deregulated the financial system.
In May , there were 11,, people employed either full- or part-time , with an unemployment rate of 5. In , Newstart unemployment allowance recipients were registered, a total that increased to , in March Until the Second World War , the vast majority of settlers and immigrants came from the British Isles , and a majority of Australians have some British or Irish ancestry. These Australians form an ethnic group known as Anglo-Celtic Australians.
In the Australian census, the most commonly nominated ancestries were English Australia's population has quadrupled since the end of World War I,  much of this increase from immigration. Following World War II and through to , almost 5. Indigenous Australians experience higher than average rates of imprisonment and unemployment, lower levels of education, and life expectancies for males and females that are, respectively, 11 and 17 years lower than those of non-indigenous Australians.
In common with many other developed countries, Australia is experiencing a demographic shift towards an older population, with more retirees and fewer people of working age. In , the average age of the civilian population was Although Australia has no official language, English has always been entrenched as the de facto national language. According to the census, English is the only language spoken in the home for close to The next most common languages spoken at home are Mandarin 2.
Over Indigenous Australian languages are thought to have existed at the time of first European contact,  of which fewer than twenty are still in daily use by all age groups. Australia has no state religion ; Section of the Australian Constitution prohibits the federal government from making any law to establish any religion, impose any religious observance, or prohibit the free exercise of any religion.
Before European settlement, the animist beliefs of Australia's indigenous people had been practised for many thousands of years.
Mainland Aboriginal Australians ' spirituality is known as the Dreamtime and it places a heavy emphasis on belonging to the land. The collection of stories that it contains shaped Aboriginal law and customs.
Aboriginal art , story and dance continue to draw on these spiritual traditions. The spirituality and customs of Torres Strait Islanders , who inhabit the islands between Australia and New Guinea, reflected their Melanesian origins and dependence on the sea. The Australian census counted more than respondents as followers of a traditional Aboriginal religion. Since the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships in , Christianity has become the major religion practised in Australia.
Christian churches have played an integral role in the development of education, health and welfare services in Australia. For much of Australian history, the Church of England now known as the Anglican Church of Australia was the largest religious denomination. However, multicultural immigration has contributed to a decline in its relative position, and the Roman Catholic Church has benefitted from recent immigration to become the largest group.
Similarly, Islam , Buddhism , Hinduism and Judaism have all grown in Australia over the past half-century. Australia has one of the lowest levels of religious adherence in the world. Australia's life expectancy is the third highest in the world for males and the seventh highest for females.
Ranked second in preventable causes is hypertension at 7. Total expenditure on health including private sector spending is around 9. School attendance, or registration for home schooling,  is compulsory throughout Australia. Education is the responsibility of the individual states and territories  so the rules vary between states, but in general children are required to attend school from the age of about 5 until about Catholic education accounts for the largest non-government sector.
Australia has 37 government-funded universities and two private universities, as well as a number of other specialist institutions that provide approved courses at the higher education level. The ratio of international to local students in tertiary education in Australia is the highest in the OECD countries. Since , the primary influence behind Australian culture has been Anglo-Celtic Western culture , with some Indigenous influences.
Traditional designs, patterns and stories infuse contemporary Indigenous Australian art , "the last great art movement of the 20th century";  its exponents include Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Australian literature grew slowly in the decades following European settlement though Indigenous oral traditions , many of which have since been recorded in writing, are much older.
Their works are still popular; Paterson's bush poem " Waltzing Matilda " is regarded as Australia's unofficial national anthem. Many of Australia's performing arts companies receive funding through the federal government's Australia Council. Each state has a publicly funded theatre company. The Story of the Kelly Gang , the world's first feature length film, spurred a boom in Australian cinema during the silent film era.
Australia has two public broadcasters the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the multicultural Special Broadcasting Service , three commercial television networks, several pay-TV services,  and numerous public, non-profit television and radio stations.
Each major city has at least one daily newspaper,  and there are two national daily newspapers, The Australian and The Australian Financial Review. Most Indigenous Australian tribal groups subsisted on a simple hunter-gatherer diet of native fauna and flora, otherwise called bush tucker.
Australia is also known for its cafe and coffee culture in urban centres , which has influenced coffee culture abroad, including New York City. Australia is unique in that it has professional leagues for four football codes.
Australian rules football , the world's oldest major football code and Australia's most popular sport in terms of revenue and spectatorship, originated in Melbourne in the late s, and predominates in all states except New South Wales and Queensland, where rugby league holds sway, followed by rugby union.
Soccer , while ranked fourth in popularity and resources, has the highest overall participation rates. The Australian national cricket team have participated in every edition of the Cricket World Cup.
Australia have been very successful in the event, winning the tournament five times, the record number. Australia is a powerhouse in water-based sports, such as swimming and surfing. The annual Melbourne Cup horse race and the Sydney to Hobart yacht race attract intense interest.
Australia is one of five nations to have participated in every Summer Olympics of the modern era,  and has hosted the Games twice: Other major international events held in Australia include the Australian Open tennis grand slam tournament, international cricket matches, and the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the country. For the continent, see Australia continent. For other uses, see Australia disambiguation. Commonwealth of Australia, including the Australian territorial claim in the Antarctic. Australian Aussie colloquial  . European exploration of Australia.
Geography of Australia and Environment of Australia. Environmental issues in Australia. Government of Australia and Politics of Australia. Elizabeth II , Queen of Australia. Peter Cosgrove , Governor-General of Australia. Scott Morrison , Prime Minister of Australia.
States and territories of Australia. Foreign relations of Australia. Demography of Australia and List of cities in Australia by population. Largest populated areas in Australia data from Australian Bureau of Statistics  . Health care in Australia. Australia portal Oceania portal Commonwealth realms portal. In other contexts, the national anthem of Australia, " Advance Australia Fair ", is played.
In , a vote of IHO member nations defined the term "Southern Ocean" as applying only to the waters between Antarctica and 60 degrees south latitude. Archived from the original on 11 June Retrieved 7 June Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Archived from the original on 20 December Retrieved 11 January Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on May 15, Australian Bureau of Statistics website. Retrieved 3 April The population estimate shown is automatically calculated daily at Retrieved 27 June Retrieved 22 April United Nations Development Programme.
Retrieved 5 August It shall be lawful for the Queen, with the advice of the Privy Council, to declare by proclamation that, on and after a day therein appointed, not being later than one year after the passing of this Act, the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, and also, if Her Majesty is satisfied that the people of Western Australia have agreed thereto, of Western Australia, shall be united in a Federal Commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Retrieved 1 December Australian island arcs through time: Geodynamic implications for the Archean and Proterozoic. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 April Archived from the original on 13 January Retrieved 23 April Tags are all still attached.
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