From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about the country. For the continent, see

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the country. For the continent, see Australia (continent). For other uses, see Australia (disambiguation).
Coordinates:  27°S 133°E

Commonwealth of Australia


Coat of arms

Anthem: "Advance Australia Fair"[N 1]



35°18.48′S 149°7.47′E

Largest city


Official languages

None[N 2]

National language

English[N 2]


  • Australian
    Aussie (colloquial)[3][4]


Federal parliamentaryconstitutional monarchy



Elizabeth II



Sir Peter Cosgrove


Prime Minister

Malcolm Turnbull


Chief Justice

Robert French




Upper house



Lower house

House of Representatives

Independence from the United Kingdom



1 January 1901 


Statute of Westminster Adoption Act

9 October 1942 (with effect
from 3 September 1939) 


Australia Act

3 March 1986 




7,692,024 km2 (6th)
2,969,907 sq mi



2016 estimate

24,056,300[5] (51st)


2011 census




2.8/km2 (236th)
7.3/sq mi


2015 estimate



$1.137 trillion[7] (19th)


Per capita

$47,318[7] (17th)

GDP (nominal)

2015 estimate



$1.223 trillion[7] (13th)


Per capita

$51,642[7] (9th)

Gini (2012)

medium · 19th

HDI (2014)

very high · 2nd


Australian dollar (AUD)

Time zone

various[N 3](UTC+8 to +10.5)


Summer (DST)

various[N 3] (UTC+8 to +11.5)

Date format


Drives on the


Calling code


ISO 3166 code


Internet TLD


Australia (/ɒˈstreɪliə//ə-/, colloquially /-jə/),[10][11] officially known as the Commonwealth of Australia,[12] is anOceanian country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Papua New Guinea,Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.
For about 50,000 years[13] before the first British settlement in the late 18th century,[14][15] Australia was inhabited byindigenous Australians,[16] who spoke languages grouped into roughly 250 language groups.[17][18] After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonieswere established. On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federalparliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy comprising six states and several territories. The population of 24 million[5] is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated in the eastern states and on the coast.[19]
Australia is a developed country and one of the wealthiest in the world, with the world's 12th-largest economy. In 2014 Australia had the world's fifth-highest per capita income.[20] Australia's military expenditure is the world's 13th-largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil libertiesand political rights.[21] Australia is a member of the United NationsG20Commonwealth of NationsANZUS,Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade OrganizationAsia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the Pacific Islands Forum.

  • 1Name

  • 2History

    • 2.1Prehistory

    • 2.2European arrival

    • 2.3Colonial expansion

    • 2.4Nationhood

  • 3Government

  • 4States and territories

  • 5Foreign relations and military

  • 6Geography and climate

  • 7Environment

    • 7.1Environmental issues

  • 8Economy

  • 9Demographics

    • 9.1Language

    • 9.2Religion

    • 9.3Education

    • 9.4Health

  • 10Culture

    • 10.1Arts

    • 10.2Media

    • 10.3Cuisine

    • 10.4Sport and recreation

  • 11See also

  • 12Notes

  • 13References

  • 14Bibliography

  • 15Further reading

  • 16External links

Main article: Name of Australia
The name Australia (pronounced [əˈstɹæɪljə, -liə] in Australian English,[22]) is derived from the Latin Terra Australis("southern land") a name used for putative lands in the southern hemisphere since ancient times.[23] The earliest recorded use of the word Australia in English was in 1625 in "A note of Australia del Espíritu Santo, written by Sir Richard Hakluyt", published by Samuel Purchas in Hakluytus Posthumus, a corruption of the original Spanish name "Austrialia del Espíritu Santo" (Southern Land of the Holy Spirit)[24][25][26] for an island in Vanuatu.[27] The Dutch adjectival form Australische was used in a Dutch book in Batavia (Jakarta) in 1638, to refer to the newly discovered lands to the south.[28] The first time that the name Australia appears to have been officially used was in a despatch to Lord Bathurst of 4 April 1817 in which Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledges the receipt of Capt. Flinders' charts of Australia.[29] On 12 December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the Colonial Office that it be formally adopted.[30] In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known officially as Australia.[31]
Main article: History of Australia

Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberleyregion of Western Australia
Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago,[32][33]possibly with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia. These first inhabitants may have been ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians.[34] At the time of European settlement in the late 18th century, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime. The Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, were originally horticulturists and hunter-gatherers.[35] The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited sporadically by fishermen from Maritime Southeast Asia.[36]
European arrival
See also: European exploration of Australia

Portrait of Captain James Cook, the first European to map the eastern coastline of Australia in 1770
The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland, and the first recorded European landfall on the Australian continent, are attributed to the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon. He sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula in early 1606, and made landfall on 26 February at the Pennefather River near the modern town of Weipa on Cape York.[37] The Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines and named the island continent "New Holland" during the 17th century, but made no attempt at settlement.[37] William Dampier, an English explorer and privateer, landed on the north-west coast of New Holland in 1688 and again in 1699 on a return trip.[38] In 1770, James Cook sailed along and mapped the east coast, which he named New South Wales and claimed for Great Britain.[39] With the loss of its American colonies in 1783, 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 CovePort Jackson, on 26 January 1788,[15] a date which became Australia's national day, Australia Day, although the British Crown Colony of New South Wales was not formally promulgated until 7 February 1788. The first settlement led to the foundation of Sydney, and the exploration and settlement of other regions.

Tasmania's Port Arthur penal settlement is one of eleven UNESCO World Heritage-listed Australian Convict Sites.
A British settlement was established in Van Diemen's Land, now known as Tasmania, in 1803, and it became a separate colony in 1825.[40] The United Kingdom formally claimed the western part of Western Australia (the Swan River Colony) in 1828.[41] Separate colonies were carved from parts of New South Wales: South Australia in 1836, Victoria in 1851, and Queensland in 1859.[42] The Northern Territory was founded in 1911 when it was excised from South Australia.[43] South Australia was founded as a "free province"—it was never a penal colony.[44] Victoria and Western Australia were also founded "free", but later accepted transported convicts.[45][46] A campaign by the settlers of New South Wales led to the end of convict transportation to that colony; the last convict ship arrived in 1848.[47]
The indigenous population, estimated to have been between 750,000 and 1,000,000 in 1788,[48] declined for 150 years following settlement, mainly due to infectious disease.[49] Thousands more died as a result of frontier conflict with settlers.[50]A government policy of "assimilation" beginning with the Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 resulted in the removal of many Aboriginal children from their families and communities—often referred to as the Stolen Generations—a practice which may also have contributed to the decline in the indigenous population.[51] The Federal government gained the power to make laws with respect to Aborigines following the1967 referendum.[52] Traditional ownership of land—aboriginal title—was not recognised until 1992, when the High Court case Mabo v Queensland (No 2)overturned the legal doctrine that Australia had been terra nullius ("land belonging to no one") before the European occupation.[53]

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