Australia is one of the world’s largest countries. It is also the world’s smallest continent. It is the only country-continent in the world. It is an island in the Southeast Pacific, with New Zealand as its immediate neighbor. It is home to over 20 million people (CountryWatch.com, 2008) from over 200 different countries worldwide. It is a federation of six states and two territories. The states are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. The two territories are Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, which is an enclave within New South Wales (similar to Vatican City in Rome) and contains the federal capital, Canberra.
The history of Australia is characterized by three stages. The first stage is pre-colonial. This is basically a period of aboriginal inhabitance. The Australian aborigines had been there for 40,000 years or so, according to CountryWatch.com (2008). The second stage begins in the 18th century, when Captain James Cook first claimed Australia for Britain (Duly, 2007). This was the beginning of Australia as a British colony, initially as a penal colony where they brought all their criminals. The day that James Cook landed in 1788 (January 26) is still celebrated annually as Australia Day.
The 20th century is the third stage, beginning with the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. This stage is the emergence of Australia as its own country, the union of six colonies. The 20th century proved to be a time of the formation of a national identity and culture, as well as vast social, economic, and political change. The first major event, one that was instrumental in forming the ethnic makeup of the early Commonwealth, was the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901(Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2008). This act limited migration to people of European descent. It would eventually be overturned after the Second World War, but... [continues]
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