Australia was first settled by Europeans in 1788 with the arrival (at Botany Bay on the south-east coast) of three English ships with more than 1000 convicts and military personnel, known today as the 'First Fleeters.' The site was found to be unsuitable so a few days later the colony moved to Port Jackson at Sydney Cove. The second fleet arrived in 1790 and saved the colony from starvation. The third fleet arrived in 1791 and included the first Irish transportees. The first free settler immigrants arrived in 1793. The expanding colony became known as New South Wales.
The first Europeans began exploration of the Australian continent in the 17th century. Dutch explorer Willem Janszoom landed in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1606 and mapped some of the coastline. Later on Abel Tasman in 1642 reached Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) and in 1644 with three ships (Limmen, Zeemeeuw & Braek) he mapped the north coast of Australia. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James Cook took possession in the name of Great Britain. Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy.
Click on a state on the map to go to that state's page.
The States and Territories of Australia include:
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