Australia (i/əˈstreɪljə/ ə-strayl-yə  or /ɒˈstreɪlɪə/ or /ɒˈstreɪljə/ o-strayl-yə), officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country comprising the mainland of the Australiancontinent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area. Neighbouring countries include Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north;the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.
For at least 40,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18thcentury, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of roughly 250 language groups. After discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half wasclaimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent wasexplored and an additional five self-governing Crown Colonies were established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Since Federation, Australia hasmaintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. The federation comprises six states and several territories. Thepopulation of 22.9 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated in the eastern states.
A highly developed country and one of the wealthiest, Australia is the world's 12th-largesteconomy and has the world's fifth-highest per capita income. Australia's military expenditure is the world's 13th-largest. With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly inmany international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights. Australia is a...
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