Australia is the sixth largest country in the
Geographic size: 7,617,930 sq km
Population: 20 million (2005)
Administrative Divisions: 6 states and 2
Major cities: Brisbane, Sydney, Perth,
Melbourne, and Adelaide.
Australia's major industries are mining and
farming, especially sheep farming.
The grape vineyards help to support a growing
In addition, Australia's climate and dramatic
scenery have made tourism a major industry.
Ancient (Pre 1788)
Aboriginals were the real founders of Australia because they came to this
land thousands of years before white people discovered it. Aboriginals have
been here for at least 40,000 years. When white people came to Australia,
they invaded a land that already belonged to the Aboriginals.
No one knows exactly where the Aboriginals lived before they came to
Australia. It is known that Aboriginals came from somewhere in South-
East Asia and that they left their homes and traveled to Australia in canoes
or on rafts.
The first records of Europeans sailing into 'Australian'
waters occur around 1606, and include their observations
of the land known as Terra Australis Incognita (unknown
Between 1606 and 1770, an estimated 54 European ships
from a range of nations made contact.
In 1770, Englishman Lieutenant James Cook claimed the
east coast for the British Crown, naming eastern Australia
'New South Wales'.
The First Fleet and a British colony
In the 1770’s there were about 9 million people in England
and 1 million of them were very poor. This led to an increase
in crimes. About one in every twenty persons was a criminal.
The prison system was becoming overcrowded.
In August 1786, the British government decided to start a
convict settlement in New South Wales.
Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet, comprising 11 ships
(six of them “convict ships”) and around 1,500 people, arrived
at Botany Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788.
Initially, relations between the explorers and the Aboriginal
inhabitants (around 300,000) were hospitable and based on trading
for food, water, axes, cloth and artefacts, a relationship encouraged
by Governor Phillip.
These relations became hostile as Aborigines realised that the land
and resources upon which they depended and the order of their life
were seriously disrupted by the on-going presence of the colonisers.
Between 1790 and 1810, clans people of the Eora group in the
Sydney area undertook a campaign of resistance against the English
colonisers in a series of attacks.
The question of land
ownership by Indigenous
people was not dealt with
until the mid-1830s.
In 1835, John Batman
signed two 'treaties' with
Kulin people to rent
600,000 acres of land.
But the NSW Governor, Sir
Richard Bourke issued a
proclamation. It established
the notion that the land
belonged to no-one prior
to the British crown taking
A Gold Rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, and it brought
many immigrants from Great Britain, Ireland, continental Europe,
North America and China.
In 1861, the NSW government opened up the free selection of
Crown land. The Crown Lands Acts permitted any person to select
up to 320 acres on the condition of paying a deposit and living on
the land for three years.
The Acts also limited the use of Crown lands by Aboriginal
people as until this time, pastoral lands were still able to be
legitimately used by them.
Establishment of other British colonies
Separate colonies were created from parts of
New South Wales: South Australia, New Zealand,
There were some rebellions for independence but
they were defeated.
On 1 January 1901,a federation of the colonies
was achieved and the Commonwealth of
Australia was born. In 1911, His Majesty King
George V proclaimed Australia as a Dominion of
the British Empire.
20th Century Australia
Australia sent its armed forces to fight alongside
Britain during the 1st and 2nd World Wars.
Following World War II, the Australian government
instigated a massive program of European
Two million immigrants arrived between 1948 and
Australia is a multicultural society with its
Indigenous people and immigrants from some 200
Government type: democratic, federal-state
system recognizing the British monarch as
Chief of state: Queen of Australia ELIZABETH II
(since 6 February 1952), represented by
Governor General Quentin Bryce
Head of government: Prime Minister Julia
Legislative branch: bicameral Federal
Parliament consists of the Senate and the House