– Human habitation of the Australian continent began 50,000 to 65,000 years ago.
– Indigenous Australians comprise Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders.
– Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continuous cultures on Earth.
– At the time of European contact, Aboriginal Australians had diverse economies and societies with about 250 different language groups.
– European exploration and colonization of Australia began in the 17th and 18th centuries.
– European maritime exploration of Australia began in the 17th century.
– The Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon was the first known European to reach Australia in 1606.
– British explorer James Cook mapped and claimed the east coast of Australia for Great Britain in 1770.
– The First Fleet of British ships arrived in Sydney in 1788 to establish the penal colony of New South Wales.
– European settlement and exploration of Australia continued in the 19th century.

Indigenous Peoples
– Indigenous Australians include Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders.
– The Madjedbebe rock shelter in Arnhem Land is the oldest site showing the presence of humans in Australia.
– Aboriginal Australian culture is based on reverence for the land and belief in the Dreamtime.
– Torres Strait Islander people settled their islands around 4000 years ago.
– They were seafarers and relied on seasonal horticulture and marine resources.

Geography and Demographics
– Australia is the largest country by area in Oceania and the sixth-largest country in the world.
– It is the oldest, flattest, and driest inhabited continent.
– Australia has a wide variety of landscapes and climates, including deserts, rainforests, savannas, and mountain ranges.
– Canberra is the capital city, while Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide are the most populous cities.
– Australia has a highly urbanized population of nearly 27 million, with a diverse and multicultural society.

European Exploration and Colonization
– Bay on 29 April 1770 claimed Australia’s east coast for Great Britain
– Makassan fishermen from Indonesia visited the northern coasts and waters of Australia for trade
– Dutch explorers made the first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland
– Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon charted the Australian coast and met with Aboriginal people
– Spanish explorer Luís Vaz de Torres sailed through and navigated the Torres Strait Islands
– Captain James Cook mapped the east coast and claimed it for Great Britain in 1770
– The British Government sent the First Fleet to establish a new penal colony in New South Wales
– Sydney Cove was established as the first British settlement in Australia on 26 January 1788
– Convicts were transported for petty crimes and assigned as laborers or servants
– Governor Lachlan Macquarie initiated social and economic reforms, transitioning New South Wales from a penal colony to a civil society
– British settlements were established in Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) and Western Australia
– Major Edmund Lockyer established a settlement on King George Sound (Albany), extending British claim to the whole Australian continent
– Separate colonies were carved from New South Wales: Tasmania, South Australia, New Zealand, Victoria, and Queensland
– South Australia was founded as a free province, not a penal colony
– Western Australia accepted transported convicts until 1868

Contemporary Events and Characteristics
– Australia experienced significant increases in living standards, leisure time, and suburban development after World War II.
– The nation encouraged a large wave of immigration from Europe, known as New Australians.
– Australia participated in the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency, and the Vietnam War.
– Tensions over communist influence led to unsuccessful attempts to ban the Communist Party of Australia.
– A 1967 referendum granted the Federal Government the mandate to implement policies benefiting Aboriginal people.
– Bass Strait formed, separating Tasmania from the mainland
– Lowlands in the north flooded, separating New Guinea, Aru Islands, and mainland Australia
– Australian continent moving towards Eurasia at 6-7 cm/year
– Average thickness of Australian mainland’s continental crust is 38 km
– Geology divided into Archaean cratonic shields, Proterozoic fold belts, and Phanerozoic sedimentary basins
– Climate influenced by ocean currents and weather patterns
– Rainfall varies from year to year
– Northern part of the country has a tropical, summer-rainfall climate
– South-west corner has a Mediterranean climate
– South-east ranges from oceanic to humid subtropical, with alpine and subpolar climates in the highlands
– Australia has diverse habitats from alpine heaths to tropical rainforests
– Unique biota due to age, weather patterns, and geographic isolation
– Endemic species include flowering plants, mammals, birds, and fish
– Australia has the highest number of reptile species in the world
– Feral cats contribute to the decline of native species
– Australia is a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
– Stable liberal democratic political system since Federation in 1901
– Power divided between federal and state governments
– Government combines elements from the UK and US political systems
– Indigenous features in the political system
– Australia is one of 17 megadiverse countries
– Australia joined the United States in the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War.
China has become Australia’s largest trading partner.
– Australia implemented lockdowns and restricted movement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
– The Australia Act 1986 severed remaining constitutional ties with the United Kingdom.
– A 1999 referendum rejected a proposal to abolish the Monarchy of Australia and become a republic.Sources: