Australia, formally the Commonwealth of Australia, is a nation that spans the Australian continent, including the mainland, the island of Tasmania, and a slew of smaller islands. It is the sixth-largest nation in the globe in terms of total area. To the north are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and East Timor; to the north-east are the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu; and to the south-east is New Zealand. Canberra is the capital of Australia, while Sydney is the biggest metropolitan area.
Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 50,000 years prior to the arrival of the first British settlers in the late 18th century. Indigenous Australians spoke languages classified into approximately 250 groupings. Following the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Great Britain claimed Australia’s eastern half in 1770 and colonized it originally through convict transportation to the colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. The population increased rapidly over the following decades, and by the 1850s, the majority of the continent had been explored, with the establishment of five more self-governing crown colonies. The six colonies federated on 1 January 1901, creating the Commonwealth of Australia. Since then, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system in which it operates as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy composed of six states and numerous territories. The 24 million-strong population is largely urbanized and centered along the eastern coast.
Australia has the 13th biggest economy in the world and the ninth greatest per capita income (IMF). With the world’s second-highest human development index, the nation excels in several areas, including quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and civil freedoms and political rights. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, OECD, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the Pacific Islands Forum.