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Australia joined Quota International’s network in 1933.


G’day mates, and welcome to Australia, the sixth largest country on Earth! Located southeast of Asia, Australia is the only nation to occupy a whole continent. But geography alone is not the only characteristic that makes this country unique—Australia has a rich cultural heritage, diverse flora and fauna, exciting landscapes, and a distinct history as well.


Courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

The first Australians are known as the Aborigines, and it is thought that they migrated from Asia approximately 35,000 years ago. Australia was not known to the Europeans until 1601, when Manuel Godhino de Eredia, a Portuguese sailor, made a voyage to that part of the world. Later, explorers from Spain and Holland visited the land, but it held little interest for the Europeans until 1770, when the English Captain James Cook reached Botany Bay and claimed it for Great Britain. Soon, the English established numerous settlements up and down the coast—using many of them for penal colonies for criminals. The early Australian economy consisted primarily of sheep raising and wheat harvesting. However, the economy boomed in 1851 when miners struck gold in Victoria.

Modern-day Australia is made up of six states and two territories: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory, where the capital city of Canberra is located. The government of the country is democratic, led by the governor-general. The Queen of England holds symbolic executive power. Because of this close cultural tie to Great Britain, Australia has been involved in many events along with England, including both world wars. Presently, the country enjoys healthy relations with Japan, many nations of Southeast Asia and Europe, the United States, and neighboring New Zealand.

Today, Australia is a culturally diverse nation. After World War II, immigrants from Greece, Turkey, and Italy poured into the country. Later waves of immigrants followed from Asia in the early 1970s. Though many Australians are of British and Irish ancestry, by 1988 almost 4 percent of the entire population was of Asian descent. There are still approximately 230,000 Aborigines in Australia today.

The diversity of the population leads to a unique fusion of different interests that make up Australian culture. Art, music, and education are important to Australians, and sports such as cricket, rugby, football, and yachting are popular pastimes for many.

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