segunda-feira, 22 de outubro de 2007

AUSTRALIA

The Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the mainlandTasmania and a number of other islands in the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans. The neighbouring countries are 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.
The Australian mainland has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by Indigenous Australians. After sporadic visits by fishermen from the north and by European explorers and merchants starting in the 17th century, the eastern half of Australia was claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation as part of the colony of New South Wales, commencing on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown Colonies were established during the 19th century.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies became a federation, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth Realm. The capital city is Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory. The population is 21 million, and is concentrated in the mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.
View of Port Jackson, the site where Sydney was established, taken from the South Head. (From A Voyage to Terra Australis.)
The name "Australia" is derived from the Latin Australis, meaning "Southern". Legends of an "unknown land of the south" (terra australis incognita) dating back to Roman times were commonplace in mediæval geography, but were based on no actual knowledge of the continent. The first use of the word "Australia" in English was in 1625 — the words "A note of Australia del Espiritu Santo, written by Master Hakluyt", published by Samuel Purchas in Hakluytus Posthumus. The Dutch adjectival form Australische was used by Dutch officials in Batavia to refer to the newly discovered land to the south in 1638. "Australia" was used in a 1693 translation of Les Aventures de Jacques Sadeur dans la Découverte et le Voyage de la Terre Australe, a 1692 French novel by Gabriel de Foigny under the pen name Jacques Sadeur. Alexander Dalrymple then used it in An Historical Collection of Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean (1771), to refer to the entire South Pacific region. In 1793, George Shaw and Sir James Smith published Zoology and Botany of New Holland, in which they wrote of "the vast island, or rather continent, of Australia, Australasia or New Holland."
The name "Australia" was popularised by the 1814 work A Voyage to Terra Australis by the navigator Matthew Flinders, the first recorded person to circumnavigate Australia. Despite its title, which reflected the view of the British Admiralty, Flinders used the word "Australia" in the book, which was widely read and gave the term general currency. Governor Lachlan Macquarie of New South Wales subsequently used the word in his dispatches to England, and on 12 December 1817
The first human habitation of Australia is estimated to have occurred between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago.These first Australians were possibly the ancestors of the current Indigenous Australians; they may have arrived via land bridges and short sea-crossings from present-day South-East Asia. Most of these people were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime. The Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, inhabited the Torres Strait Islands and parts of far-north Queensland; their cultural practices were and remain distinct from those of the Aborigines.
Lieutenant James Cook charted the east coast of Australia on HM Bark Endeavour, claiming the land for Great Britain in 1770. This replica was built in Fremantle in 1988; photographed in Cooktown Harbour where Cook spent seven weeks. of the world's smallest continent, the major island of recommended to the Colonial Office that it be officially adopted). In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known officially as "Australia".

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