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Australia History


Aboriginals were the real founders of Australia because they came to this land thousands of years before white people discovered it. In 1988 white Australians celebrated 200 years of their settlement in this country. But indigenous australians have been here for at least 40,000 years. When white people came to Australia, they invaded a land that already belonged to the others. No one knows exactly where the Aboriginals lived before they came to Australia. It is known that Aboriginals came from somewhere in South-East Asia and that they left their homes and traveled to Australia in canoes or on rafts.

During 1200-1500, world activity centered around Europe and it surrounding land mass. Europeans, at the time, didnít know that Australia existed. They imagined that in the southern hemisphere there was a great mass of land but did not know for sure. They also imagined that this unknown land was the home of giants and monsters and strange beasts. During the 1500s voyagers from Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, England and France began exploring the Pacific Ocean. Some were searching for the unknown south land.

The first European to discover was thought to have been Willem Janszoon, a Dutchman who sailed along part of the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1606 and landed on Australian soil. James Cook, an Englishman, was the first European to sail along the eastern coast of Australia in 1770. However some historians have found evidence that seems to show that sailors from Portugal sailed along parts of the Australian coast many years before either Willem Janszoon or James Cook.

Following the loss of the American Colonies after the American War of Independence 1775-1783, Great Britain needed to find alternative land for a new British colony. Australia was chosen for settlement, and colonisation began in 1788. Rather than resorting to the use of slavery to build the infrastructure for the new colony, convict labour was used as a cheap and economically viable alternative.

The discovery of gold, beginning in 1851 first at Bathurst in New South Wales and then in the newly formed colony of Victoria, transformed Australia economically, politically and demographically. The goldrushes occurred hard on the heels of a major worldwide economic depression. As a result, about two per cent of the population of Britain and Ireland emigrated to New South Wales and Victoria during the 1850s. There were also large numbers of continental Europeans, North Americans and Chinese.

The beginning of the twentieth century saw the final result of nearly two decades of negotiations with regard to federation, with the approval of a federal constitution by all six Australian colonies and its subsequent ratification by the British parliament in 1900. This resulted in the creation of one federal Australian state as of 1 January 1901. Federation was a symbol of unity and gave people the chance to be "Australian".

Melbourne was chosen as the temporary seat of government while a purpose-designed capital city, Canberra, was constructed. The future King George V, then the Duke of York, opened the first Parliament of Australia on 9 May 1901, and his successor, (later to be King George VI) opened the first session in Canberra during May 1927. Australia became officially autonomous in both internal and external affairs with the passage of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act on 9 October 1942. The Australia Act in 1986 eliminated the last vestiges of British legal authority at the Federal level.

Australia has been active in international affairs since World War II when it fought beside the United States and other Allies. In 1944, it concluded an agreement with New Zealand dealing with the security, welfare and advancement of the people of the independent territories of the Pacific (the ANZAC pact). The history of Australia since 1945 has seen a move away from Great Britain in political, social and cultural terms to engagement with the United States and Asia. After World War II, Australia launched a massive immigration program believing that having narrowly avoided a Japanese invasion, Australia must "populate or perish." Hundreds of thousands of displaced Europeans, including for the first time large numbers of Jews migrated to Australia. More than two million people immigrated to Australia from Europe during the 20 years after the end of the war.

After the war, Australia played a role in the Far Eastern Commission in Japan and supported Indonesian independence during that country's revolt against the Dutch (1945-49). Australia was one of the founders of both the United Nations and the South Pacific Commission (1947), and in 1950, it proposed the Colombo Plan to assist developing countries in Asia. In addition to contributing to UN forces in Korea - it was the first country to announce it would do so after the United States - Australia sent troops to assist in putting down the communist revolt in Malaya in 1948-60 and later to combat the Indonesian-supported invasion of Sarawak in 1963-65. Australia also sent troops to assist South Vietnamese and USA forces in Vietnam and joined coalition forces in the Persian Gulf conflict in 1991, and in Iraq in March 2003.†

Sources: University World and Wikipedia