Queensland (locally /ˈkwiːnzlænd/ KWEENZ-land) is a state situated in northeastern Australia, and is the second-largest and third-most populous Australian state. It is a federated state and a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, and is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. To its north is the Torres Strait, separating the Australian mainland from Papua New Guinea. With an area of 1,852,642 square kilometres (715,309 sq mi), Queensland is the world’s sixth-largest sub-national entity, and is larger than all but 15 countries. Due to its size, Queensland’s geographical features and climates are diverse, including tropical rainforests, rivers, coral reefs, mountain ranges and sandy beaches in its tropical and sub-tropical coastal regions, as well as deserts and savanna in the semi-arid and desert climactic regions of its interior.
Queensland has a population of over 5.1 million, concentrated along the coast and particularly in South East Queensland. The capital and largest city in the state is Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city. Ten of Australia’s thirty largest cities are located in Queensland, with the largest outside Brisbane being the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Cairns and Toowoomba. The state’s population is multicultural, with 28.9% of inhabitants being immigrants.
Queensland was first inhabited by Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, the first European to land in Australia, explored the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula in 1606. In 1770, James Cook claimed the east coast of Australia for the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 1788, Arthur Phillip founded the colony of New South Wales, which included all of what is now Queensland. Queensland was explored in subsequent decades, and the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement was established at Brisbane in 1824 by John Oxley. Queensland was separated from New South Wales on 6 June 1859 (now commemorated as Queensland Day), thereby establishing Queensland as a self-governing Crown colony with responsible government, named in honour of Queen Victoria. Queensland was among the six colonies which became the founding states of Australia with Federation on 1 January 1901. Since the Bjelke-Petersen era of the late 20th century, Queensland has received a high level of internal migration from the other states and territories of Australia and remains a popular destination for interstate migration.
Queensland has the third-largest economy among Australian states, with strengths in mining, agriculture, transportation, international education, insurance and banking. Nicknamed the Sunshine State for its tropical and sub-tropical climates, Great Barrier Reef and numerous beaches, tourism is also important to the state’s economy.
The Northern Territory (NT; formally the Northern Territory of Australia) is an Australian territory in the central and central northern regions of Australia. It shares borders with Western Australia to the west (129th meridian east), South Australia to the south (26th parallel south), and Queensland to the east (138th meridian east). To the north, the territory looks out to the Timor Sea, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria, including Western New Guinea and other islands of the Indonesian archipelago.
The NT covers 1,349,129 square kilometres (520,902 sq mi), making it the third-largest Australian federal division, and the 11th-largest country subdivision in the world. It is sparsely populated, with a population of only 245,980, fewer than half as many people as Tasmania.
The archaeological history of the Northern Territory may have begun over 60,000 years ago when humans first settled this region of the Sahul Continent. Reportedly the Makassan traders began a relationship with the indigenous people of the Northern Territory around the trading of trepang from at least the 18th century. The coast of the territory was first seen by Europeans in the 17th century. The British were the first Europeans to attempt to settle the coastal regions. After three failed attempts to establish a settlement (1824–28, 1838–49, and 1864–66), success was achieved in 1869 with the establishment of a settlement at Port Darwin.
The economy is based largely on mining and petroleum, which during 2018–2019 contributed 23% of the gross state product, or $5.68 billion, accounting for 92.4% of exports.
The capital and largest city is Darwin. The population is concentrated in coastal regions and along the Stuart Highway. The other major settlements are (in order of size) Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine, Nhulunbuy and Tennant Creek. Residents of the Northern Territory are often known simply as “Territorians” and fully as “Northern Territorians”, or more informally as “Top Enders” and “Centralians”.
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) until 1938, is a federal territory of Australia containing the Australian capital city of Canberra and some surrounding townships. It is located in the south-east of the country and is an enclave within the state of New South Wales. Founded after Federation as the seat of government for the new nation, all important institutions of the Australian Government are headquartered in the territory.
On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies of Australia was achieved. Section 125 of the new Australian Constitution provided that land, situated in New South Wales and at least 100 miles (160 km) from Sydney, would be ceded to the new federal government. Following discussion and exploration of various areas within New South Wales, the Seat of Government Act 1908 was passed in 1908 which specified a capital in the Yass-Canberra region. The territory was transferred to the federal government by New South Wales in 1911, two years prior to the capital city being founded and formally named as Canberra in 1913.
While the overwhelming majority of the population reside in the city of Canberra in the ACT’s north-east, the territory also includes some surrounding townships such as Williamsdale, Naas, Uriarra, Tharwa and Hall. The ACT also includes the Namadgi National Park which comprises the majority of land area of the territory. Despite a common misconception, the Jervis Bay Territory is not part of the ACT although the laws of the Australian Capital Territory apply as if Jervis Bay did form part of the ACT. The territory has a relatively dry, continental climate experiencing warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters.
The Australian Capital Territory is home to many important institutions of the federal government, national monuments and museums. This includes the Parliament of Australia, the High Court of Australia, the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian War Memorial. It also hosts the majority of foreign embassies in Australia as well as regional headquarters of many international organisations, not-for-profit groups, lobbying groups and professional associations. Several major universities also have campuses in the ACT including the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the University of New South Wales, Charles Sturt University and the Australian Catholic University.
A locally elected legislative assembly has governed the territory since 1988. However, the Commonwealth maintains authority over the territory and may overturn local laws. It still maintains control over the area known as the Parliamentary Triangle through the National Capital Authority. Residents of the territory elect three members of the House of Representatives and two senators.
With 431,114 residents, the Australian Capital Territory is the third smallest mainland state or territory by population. At the 2016 census, the median weekly income for people in the territory aged over 15 was $998 and higher than the national average of $662. The average level of degree qualification in the ACT is also higher than the national average. Within the ACT, 37.1% of the population hold a bachelor’s degree level or above education compared to the national figure of 20%.
New South Wales
New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Coral and Tasman Seas to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales’ state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia’s most populous city. In June 2020, the population of New South Wales was over 8.1 million, making it Australia’s most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state’s population, 5.3 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. The demonym for inhabitants of New South Wales is New South Welshmen; but some have protested this term while there is no commonly accepted alternative.
The Colony of New South Wales was founded as a British penal colony in 1788. It originally comprised more than half of the Australian mainland with its western boundary set at 129th meridian east in 1825. The colony then also included the island territories of New Zealand, Van Diemen’s Land, Lord Howe Island, and Norfolk Island. During the 19th century, most of the colony’s area was detached to form separate British colonies that eventually became New Zealand and the various states and territories of Australia. However, the Swan River Colony was never administered as part of New South Wales.
Lord Howe Island remains part of New South Wales, while Norfolk Island has become a federal territory, as have the areas now known as the Australian Capital Territory and the Jervis Bay Territory.
Victoria (abbreviated as Vic) is a state in southeastern Australia. It is the second-smallest state with a land area of 237,659 km2 (91,761 sq mi), making it the most densely populated state in Australia (26.56 per km2). Victoria is bordered with New South Wales to the north and South Australia to the west, and is bounded by the Bass Strait (which separates it from the island state of Tasmania) to the south, the Great Australian Bight portion of the Southern Ocean to the southwest, and the Tasman Sea (a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean) to the southeast. The state encompasses a range of climates and geographical features from its temperate coastal and central regions to the Victorian Alps in the north-east and the semi-arid north-west.
Victoria has a population of over 6.6 million, the majority of which is concentrated in the central south area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, and in particular in the metropolitan area of Greater Melbourne, Victoria’s state capital and largest city and also Australia’s second-largest city, where over three quarters of the Victorian population live. The state is home to four of Australia’s 20 largest cities: Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. The population is diverse, with 35.1% of inhabitants being immigrants.
Victoria is home to numerous Aboriginal groups, including the Kulin, the Boonwurrung, the Bratauolung, the Djadjawurrung, the Gunai, the Gunditjmara, the Taungurong, the Wathaurong, the Wurundjeri, and the Yorta Yorta. There were more than 30 Aboriginal languages spoken in the area prior to European colonisation. In 1770 James Cook claimed the east coast of the Australian continent for the Kingdom of Great Britain, and from 1788 the area that is now Victoria was a part of the colony of New South Wales. The first European settlement in the area occurred in 1803 at Sullivan Bay. Much of what is now Victoria was included in 1836 in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. Named in honour of Queen Victoria, Victoria was separated from New South Wales and established as a separate Crown colony in 1851, achieving responsible government in 1855. The Victorian gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s significantly increased Victoria’s population and wealth. By the time of Australian Federation in 1901, Melbourne had become the largest city in Australasia, and served as the federal capital of Australia until the construction of Canberra in 1927. The state continued to grow strongly through various periods of the 20th and early 21st centuries as a result of high levels of international and interstate migration.
Politically, Victoria has 38 seats in the Australian House of Representatives and 12 seats in the Australian Senate. At state level, the Parliament of Victoria consists of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. The Labor Party, led by Daniel Andrews as premier, has governed Victoria since 2014. The Governor of Victoria, the representative of the Monarchy of Australia in the state, is currently Linda Dessau. Victoria is divided into 79 local government areas, as well as several unincorporated areas which the state administers directly.
Victoria’s economy is the second-largest among Australian states and is highly diversified, with service sectors predominating. Culturally, Melbourne hosts a number of museums, art galleries, and theatres, and is also described as the world’s sporting capital, and the “spiritual home” of Australian cricket and Australian rules football.
Tasmania (/tæzˈmeɪniə/; abbreviated as TAS, nicknamed Tassie, Bruny Island Tasmanian: Lutruwita; Palawa kani: Lutruwita) is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of about 540,600 people as of June 2020. The state capital and largest city is Hobart, with around 40 percent of the population living in the Greater Hobart area.
Tasmania’s area is 68,401 km2 (26,410 sq mi), of which the main island covers 64,519 km2 (24,911 sq mi). It is promoted as a natural state, and protected areas of Tasmania cover about 42% of its land area, which includes national parks and World Heritage Sites. Tasmania was the founding place of the first environmental political party in the world.
The island is believed to have been occupied by indigenous peoples for 30,000 years before British colonisation. It is thought Aboriginal Tasmanians were separated from the mainland Aboriginal groups about 11,700 years ago after the sea rose to form Bass Strait. The Aboriginal population is estimated to have been between 3,000 and 7,000 at the time of colonisation, but was almost wiped out within 30 years by a combination of violent guerrilla conflict with settlers known as the “Black War”, intertribal conflict, and from the late 1820s, the spread of infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. The conflict, which peaked between 1825 and 1831, and led to more than three years of martial law, cost the lives of almost 1,100 Aboriginals and settlers.
The island was permanently settled by Europeans in 1803 as a penal settlement of the British Empire to prevent claims to the land by the First French Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. The island was initially part of the Colony of New South Wales but became a separate, self-governing colony under the name Van Diemen’s Land (named after Anthony van Diemen) in 1825. Approximately 75,000 convicts were sent to Van Diemen’s Land before transportation ceased in 1853. In 1854 the present Constitution of Tasmania was passed, and the following year the colony received permission to change its name to Tasmania. In 1901 it became a state through the process of the Federation of Australia.
South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it is the fourth-largest of Australia’s states and territories by area, and fifth largest by population. It has a total of 1.77 million people, and its population is the second most highly centralised in Australia, after Western Australia, with more than 77 percent of South Australians living in the capital, Adelaide, or its environs. Other population centres in the state are relatively small; Mount Gambier, the second largest centre, has a population of 28,684.
South Australia shares borders with all of the other mainland states, and with the Northern Territory; it is bordered to the west by Western Australia, to the north by the Northern Territory, to the north-east by Queensland, to the east by New South Wales, to the south-east by Victoria, and to the south by the Great Australian Bight. The state comprises less than 8 percent of the Australian population and ranks fifth in population among the six states and two territories. The majority of its people reside in greater Metropolitan Adelaide. Most of the remainder are settled in fertile areas along the south-eastern coast and River Murray. The state’s colonial origins are unique in Australia as a freely settled, planned British province, rather than as a convict settlement. Colonial government commenced on 28 December 1836, when the members of the council were sworn in near the Old Gum Tree.
As with the rest of the continent, the region has a long history of human occupation by numerous tribes and languages. The South Australian Company established a temporary settlement at Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, on 26 July 1836, five months before Adelaide was founded. The guiding principle behind settlement was that of systematic colonisation, a theory espoused by Edward Gibbon Wakefield that was later employed by the New Zealand Company. The goal was to establish the province as a centre of civilisation for free immigrants, promising civil liberties and religious tolerance. Although its history is marked by economic hardship, South Australia has remained politically innovative and culturally vibrant. Today, it is known for its fine wine and numerous cultural festivals. The state’s economy is dominated by the agricultural, manufacturing and mining industries.
Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state occupying the western 32.9 percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, and the Southern Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east, and South Australia to the south-east. Western Australia is Australia’s largest state, with a total land area of 2,527,013 square kilometres (975,685 sq mi), and the second-largest country subdivision in the world, surpassed only by Russia’s Sakha Republic. As of 2017, the state has about 2.6 million inhabitants – around 11 percent of the national total – of whom the vast majority (92 percent) live in the south-west corner, 79 percent of the population living in the Perth area, leaving the remainder of the state sparsely populated.
The first Europeans to visit Western Australia belonged to the Dutch Dirk Hartog expedition, who visited the Western Australian coast in 1616. The first permanent European settlement of Western Australia occurred following the landing by Major Edmund Lockyer on 26 December 1826 of an expedition on behalf of the New South Wales colonial government, although Wiebbe Hayes Stone Fort—the oldest surviving European building in Australia—was built 197 years prior in 1629 on West Wallabi Island in Western Australia by survivors of the Batavia shipwreck and massacre. Lockyer established a convict-supported military garrison at King George III Sound, at present-day Albany, and on 21 January 1827 formally took possession for the British Crown of the western part of the continent that was not already claimed by the British Crown. This was followed by the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829, including the site of the present-day capital, Perth.
York was the first inland settlement in Western Australia. Situated 97 kilometres (60 miles) east of Perth, it was settled on 16 September 1831.
Western Australia achieved responsible government in 1890 and federated with the other British colonies in Australia in 1901. Today, its economy mainly relies on mining, oil and gas, services and construction. The state produces 46 per cent of Australia’s exports. Western Australia is the largest iron ore producer in the world.
The state’s motto is “Cygnis Insignis” (“Bearing the sign of the Swan”). The state’s nickname is “The Wildflower State”.