Australia (continent)
   HOME

TheInfoList



The
continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smal ...

continent
of Australia, sometimes known in technical contexts by the names Sahul (), Australinea, or Meganesia to distinguish it from the
country of Australia
country of Australia
, consists of the
landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the E ...
es which sit on Australia's
continental plate Continental may refer to: Places * Continent * Continental, Arizona, a small community in Pima County, Arizona, US * Continental, Ohio, a small town in Putnam County, US Arts and entertainment * Continental (album), ''Continental'' (album), an alb ...
. The name "Sahul" takes its name from the
Sahul Shelf Geologically, the Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of the Australian continent, lying off the northwest coast of mainland Australia. Etymology The name "Sahull" or "Sahoel" appeared on 17th century Dutch maps applied to a submerged ...
, which is part of the continental shelf of the Australian continent. The continent includes
mainland Australia Mainland Australia is the main landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, fe ...

mainland Australia
,
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island States and territories of Australia, state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland, separated from it by Bass Strait. T ...
, and the island of
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
, which consists of
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (PNG; , ; tpi, Papua Niugini; ho, Papua Niu Gini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea ( tpi, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini; ho, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niu Gini), is a country in that comp ...

Papua New Guinea
and
Western New Guinea Western New Guinea, also known as Papua or Indonesian New Guinea, is the western portion of New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured ...
(Papua and West Papua, the provinces of
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of I ...

Indonesia
). Situated in the geographical region of
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth ...

Oceania
, Australia is the smallest of the seven traditional continents. The continent includes a
continental shelf A continental shelf is a portion of a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

continental shelf
overlain by shallow seas which divide it into several landmasses—the
Arafura Sea The Arafura Sea (or Arafuru Sea) lies west of the Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to A ...
and
Torres Strait The Torres Strait (), also known as Zenadh Kes, is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both s ...

Torres Strait
between mainland Australia and New Guinea, and
Bass Strait Bass Strait () is a sea separating from the n mainland, specifically the state of . Formed 8,000 years ago by rising sea levels, the Bass Strait was named after explorer and physician . Extent The defines the limits of Bass Strait as follow ...

Bass Strait
between mainland Australia and Tasmania. When
sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloquial, ordinary language, an average is a single number taken as representative of a list of numbers, usually the sum of the numbers divided by how many numbers are in the ...

sea level
s were lower during the Pleistocene ice age, including the
Last Glacial Maximum The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), also referred to as the Late Glacial Maximum, was the most recent time during the Last Glacial Period that ice sheets In glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glac ...
about 18,000 BC, they were connected by dry land. During the past 18,000 to 10,000 years, rising sea levels overflowed the lowlands and separated the continent into today's low-lying
arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell, when a project is stuck in d ...

arid
to
semi-arid A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term average of weather, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables ove ...
mainland and the two mountainous islands of New Guinea and Tasmania.


Terminology

The continent of Australia is sometimes known by the names Sahul, Australinea, or Meganesia to distinguish it from the country of Australia, and consists of the landmasses which sit on Australia's continental plate. This includes
mainland Australia Mainland Australia is the main landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, fe ...

mainland Australia
,
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island States and territories of Australia, state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland, separated from it by Bass Strait. T ...
, and the island of
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
, which comprises
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (PNG; , ; tpi, Papua Niugini; ho, Papua Niu Gini), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea ( tpi, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini; ho, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niu Gini), is a country in that comp ...

Papua New Guinea
and
Western New Guinea Western New Guinea, also known as Papua or Indonesian New Guinea, is the western portion of New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured ...
(Papua and West Papua, provinces of
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of I ...

Indonesia
). The name "Sahul" takes its name from the
Sahul Shelf Geologically, the Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of the Australian continent, lying off the northwest coast of mainland Australia. Etymology The name "Sahull" or "Sahoel" appeared on 17th century Dutch maps applied to a submerged ...
, which is part of the continental shelf of the Australian continent. The term
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth ...

Oceania
, originally a "great division" of the world, was replaced by the concept of Australia as a continent in the 1950s.: "...the 1950s... was also the period when... Oceania as a "great division" was replaced by Australia as a continent along with a series of isolated and continentally attached islands. [Footnote 78: When Southeast Asia was conceptualized as a world region during World War II..., Indonesia and the Philippines were perforce added to Asia, which reduced the extent of Oceania, leading to a reconceptualization of Australia as a continent in its own right. This maneuver is apparent in postwar atlases]" Today, the term Oceania is often used to denote the region encompassing the Australian continent, Zealandia and various islands in the Pacific Ocean that are not included in the continent, seven-continent model. Archaeological terminology for this region has changed repeatedly. Before the 1970s, the single Pleistocene landmass was called ''Australasia'', derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant la ...

Latin
, meaning "southern", although this word is most often used for a wider region that includes lands like New Zealand that are not on the same continental shelf. In the early 1970s, the term ''Greater Australia'' was introduced for the Pleistocene continent. Then at a 1975 conference and consequent publication, the name ''Sahul'' was extended from its previous use for just the
Sahul Shelf Geologically, the Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of the Australian continent, lying off the northwest coast of mainland Australia. Etymology The name "Sahull" or "Sahoel" appeared on 17th century Dutch maps applied to a submerged ...
to cover the continent. In 1984 W. Filewood suggested the name ''Meganesia'', meaning "great island" or "great island-group", for both the Pleistocene continent and the present-day lands, and this name has been widely accepted by biologists. Others have used ''Meganesia'' with different meanings: travel writer
Paul Theroux Paul Edward Theroux (born April 10, 1941) is an American travel writer and novelist A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional no ...
included New Zealand in his definition and others have used it for Australia, New Zealand and
Hawaii Hawaii ( ; haw, Hawaii or ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Hawaii
. Another biologist,
Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941) is a British evolutionary biologist Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology that studies the evolutionary processes ( natural selection, common descent, speciation) that produced the Biodiver ...

Richard Dawkins
, coined the name ''Australinea'' in 2004. ''Australia–New Guinea'' has also been used.


Geology and geography

Situated in the geographical region of Oceania, Australia is the smallest continent in land area. The continent includes a continental shelf overlain by shallow seas which divide it into several landmasses—the
Arafura Sea The Arafura Sea (or Arafuru Sea) lies west of the Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to A ...
and
Torres Strait The Torres Strait (), also known as Zenadh Kes, is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both s ...

Torres Strait
between mainland Australia and New Guinea, and
Bass Strait Bass Strait () is a sea separating from the n mainland, specifically the state of . Formed 8,000 years ago by rising sea levels, the Bass Strait was named after explorer and physician . Extent The defines the limits of Bass Strait as follow ...

Bass Strait
between mainland Australia and Tasmania. When
sea level Mean sea level (MSL) (often shortened to sea level) is an average In colloquial, ordinary language, an average is a single number taken as representative of a list of numbers, usually the sum of the numbers divided by how many numbers are in the ...

sea level
s were lower during the Pleistocene ice age, including the
Last Glacial Maximum The Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), also referred to as the Late Glacial Maximum, was the most recent time during the Last Glacial Period that ice sheets In glaciology Lateral moraine on a glacier joining the Gorner Glacier, Zermatt">Gorner_Glac ...
about 18,000 BC, they were connected by dry land. During the past 18,000 to 10,000 years, rising sea levels overflowed the lowlands and separated the continent into today's low-lying
arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development or developing may refer to: Arts *Development hell, when a project is stuck in d ...

arid
to
semi-arid A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term average of weather, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables ove ...
mainland and the two mountainous islands of New Guinea and Tasmania. With a total land area of , the Australian continent is the smallest, and second-lowest human inhabited (after Antarctica) continent on
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wit ...

Earth
. The
continental shelf A continental shelf is a portion of a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

continental shelf
connecting the islands, half of which is less than deep, covers some , including the
Sahul Shelf Geologically, the Sahul Shelf is part of the continental shelf of the Australian continent, lying off the northwest coast of mainland Australia. Etymology The name "Sahull" or "Sahoel" appeared on 17th century Dutch maps applied to a submerged ...
and
Bass Strait Bass Strait () is a sea separating from the n mainland, specifically the state of . Formed 8,000 years ago by rising sea levels, the Bass Strait was named after explorer and physician . Extent The defines the limits of Bass Strait as follow ...

Bass Strait
. As the country of Australia is mostly on a single landmass, and comprises most of the continent, it is sometimes informally referred to as an island continent, surrounded by oceans. Geological forces such as
tectonic uplift Kupe's Sail at Palliser Bay in New Zealand Tectonic uplift is the orogeny, geologic uplift of Earth#Surface, Earth's surface that is attributed to plate tectonics. While isostatic response is important, an increase in the mean elevation of a r ...
of mountain ranges or clashes between tectonic plates occurred mainly in Australia's early history, when it was still a part of
Gondwana Gondwana () or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (ge ...

Gondwana
. Australia is situated in the middle of the tectonic plate, and therefore currently has no active volcanism. The continent primarily sits on the Indo-Australian Plate. Because of its central location on its tectonic plate Australia doesn't have any active volcanic regions, the only continent with this distinction. The lands were joined with
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is 's southernmost . It contains the geographic and is situated in the region of the , almost entirely south of the , and is surrounded by the . At , it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of . At 0.00 ...

Antarctica
as part of the southern supercontinent
Gondwana Gondwana () or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (ge ...

Gondwana
until the plate began to drift north about 96 million years ago. For most of the time since then, Australia–New Guinea remained a continuous landmass. When the last glacial period ended in about 10,000 BC, rising sea levels formed
Bass Strait Bass Strait () is a sea separating from the n mainland, specifically the state of . Formed 8,000 years ago by rising sea levels, the Bass Strait was named after explorer and physician . Extent The defines the limits of Bass Strait as follow ...

Bass Strait
, separating Tasmania from the mainland. Then between about 8,000 and 6,500 BC, the lowlands in the north were flooded by the sea, separating New Guinea, the
Aru Islands The Aru Islands Regency ( id, Kabupaten Kepulauan Aru) are a group of about ninety-five low-lying island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very smal ...
, and the Australian mainland. A northern arc consisting of the
New Guinea Highlands The New Guinea Highlands, also known as the Central Range or Central Cordillera, is a long chain of mountain ranges on the island of New Guinea, including the island's tallest peak, Puncak Jaya , the highest mountain in Oceania. The range is home t ...
, the
Raja Ampat Islands Raja Ampat, or the ''Four Kings'', is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands. In ...
, and
Halmahera Halmahera, formerly known as Jilolo, Gilolo, or Jailolo, is the largest island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_islands_of_north-west_Europe imag ...

Halmahera
was uplifted by the northward migration of Australia and subduction of the
Pacific Plate The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate This is a list of tectonic plates on Earth's surface Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant th ...
. The
Outer Banda Arc The Banda Arc (main arc, Inner, and Outer) is a set of island arcs in eastern Indonesia. It manifests the collision of a continent and an intra-oceanic island arc. The presently active arc is located on what appears to be oceanic crust whereas the ...
was accreted along the northwestern edge the continent; it includes the islands of
Timor Timor is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerry, s ...

Timor
,
Tanimbar The Tanimbar Islands, also called ''Timur Laut'', are a group of about 65 islands in the Maluku (province), Maluku Provinces of Indonesia, province of Indonesia. The largest and most central of the islands is Yamdena; others include Selaru to the ...
, and
Seram Seram (formerly spelled Ceram; also Seran or Serang) is the largest and main island of Maluku (province), Maluku Provinces of Indonesia, province of Indonesia, despite Ambon Island's historical importance. It is located just north of the smaller ...
. Papua New Guinea has several volcanoes, as it is situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Volcanic eruptions are not rare, and the area is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis because of this. Mount Wilhelm in Papua New Guinea is the second highest mountain in the continent, and at above sea level, Puncak Jaya is the highest mountain. The Australian continent, being part of the Indo-Australian Plate (more specifically, the Australian Plate), is the lowest, flattest, and oldest landmass on Earth and it has had a relatively stable geological history. New Zealand is not part of the continent of Australia, but of the separate, submerged continent of Zealandia. New Zealand and Australia are both part of the Oceanian sub-region known as Australasia, with New Guinea being in Melanesia. Papua New Guinea, a country within the continent, is one of the most Cultural diversity, culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 percent of its people live in urban centres. West Papua (province), West Papua, a Provinces of Indonesia, province of Indonesia, is home to an estimated 44 uncontacted peoples, uncontacted tribal groups. Australia, the largest landmass in the continent, is highly Urbanization, urbanised, and has the world's List of countries by GDP (nominal), 14th-largest economy with the second-highest List of countries by Human Development Index, human development index globally. Australia also has the world's List of sovereign states and dependent territories by immigrant population, 9th largest Immigration to Australia, immigrant population.


Human history

The Australian continent and Sunda (landmass), Sunda were points of early human migrations after leaving Africa. Recent research points to a planned migration of hundreds of people using bamboo rafts, which eventually landed on Sahul.


Indigenous peoples

Indigenous Australians, that is Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people, are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. They migrated from Africa to Asia around 70,000 years ago and arrived in Australia at least 50,000 years ago, based on archaeological evidence. More recent research points to earlier arrival, possibly 65,000 years ago. They are believed to be among the Recent African origin of modern humans, earliest human migrations out of Africa. There is evidence of genetic and linguistic interchange between Australians in the far north and the Austronesian peoples of modern-day
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
and the islands, but this may be the result of recent trade and Interracial marriage, intermarriage. The Mungo Man, earliest known human remains were found at Lake Mungo remains, Lake Mungo, a dry lake in the southwest of New South Wales. Remains found at Mungo suggest one of the world's oldest known cremations, thus indicating early evidence for religious ritual among humans. Dreamtime remains a prominent feature of Australian Aboriginal art, the oldest continuing tradition of art in the world. Papuan peoples, Papuan habitation is estimated to have begun between 42,000 and 48,000 years ago in New Guinea. Trade between New Guinea and neighboring Indonesian islands was documented as early as the seventh century, and archipelagic rule of New Guinea by the 13th. At the beginning of the seventh century, the Sumatra-based empire of Srivijaya (7th century–13th century) engaged in trade relations with western New Guinea, initially taking items like sandalwood and birds-of-paradise in List of tributaries of Imperial China, tribute to China, but later making slaves out of the natives. The rule of the Java-based empire of Majapahit (1293–1527) extended to the western fringes of New Guinea. Recent archaeological research suggests that 50,000 years ago people may have occupied sites in the highlands at New Guinean altitudes of up to , rather than being restricted to warmer coastal areas.


Pre-colonial history

Legends of Terra Australis Incognita—an "unknown land of the South"—date back to Roman times and before, and were commonplace in medieval geography, although not based on any documented knowledge of the continent. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle speculated of a large landmass in the southern hemisphere, saying, "Now since there must be a region bearing the same relation to the southern pole as the place we live in bears to our pole...". His ideas were later expanded by Ptolemy (2nd century AD), who believed that the lands of the Northern Hemisphere should be balanced by land in the Southern hemisphere, south. The theory of balancing land has been documented as early as the 5th century on maps by Macrobius, who uses the term Australis on his maps. Terra Australis, a hypothetical
continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smal ...

continent
first posited in Classical antiquity, antiquity, appeared on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries.John Noble Wilford: The Mapmakers, the Story of the Great Pioneers in Cartography from Antiquity to Space Age, p. 139, Vintage Books, Random House 1982, Scientists, such as Gerardus Mercator (1569) and Alexander Dalrymple as late as 1767 argued for its existence, with such arguments as that there should be a large
landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the E ...
in the Southern Hemisphere, south as a counterweight to the known landmasses in the Northern Hemisphere. The cartographic depictions of the southern continent in the 16th and early 17th centuries, as might be expected for a concept based on such abundant conjecture and minimal data, varied wildly from map to map; in general, the continent shrank as potential locations were reinterpreted. At its largest, the continent included Tierra del Fuego, separated from South America by a small strait;
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
; and what would come to be called Australia.


European exploration

In 1606 Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon made the first documented European sight and landing on the continent of Australia in Cape York Peninsula. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, Abel Janszoon Tasman circumnavigated and landed on parts of the Australian continental coast and discovered Van Diemen's Land (now
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island States and territories of Australia, state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland, separated from it by Bass Strait. T ...
), New Zealand in 1642, and Fiji islands. He was the first known European explorer to reach these islands. In the quest for Terra Australis, Spanish explorations in the 17th century, such as the expedition led by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, discovered the Pitcairn Islands, Pitcairn and Vanuatu archipelagos, and sailed the
Torres Strait The Torres Strait (), also known as Zenadh Kes, is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both s ...

Torres Strait
between Australia and
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
, named after navigator Luís Vaz de Torres, who was the first European to explore the Strait. When Europeans first arrived, inhabitants of New Guinea and nearby islands, whose technologies included bone, wood, and stone tools, had a productive agricultural system. In 1660, the Dutch recognised the Sultan of Tidore's sovereignty over
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
. The first known Europeans to sight New Guinea were probably the Portuguese people, Portuguese and Spanish people, Spanish navigators sailing in the South Pacific in the early part of the 16th century. On 23 April 1770 British explorer James Cook made his first recorded direct observation of indigenous Australians at Brush Island near Bawley Point, New South Wales, Bawley Point. On 29 April, Cook and crew made their first landfall on the mainland of the continent at a place now known as the Cronulla sand dunes, Kurnell Peninsula, Kurnell Peninsula. It is here that James Cook made first contact with an Aboriginal tribe known as the Gweagal, who he fired upon, injuring one. His expedition became the first recorded Europeans to have encountered the eastern coastline of Australia. Captain Arthur Phillip led the ''First Fleet'' of 11 ships and about 850 convicts into Sydney on 26 January 1788. This was to be the location for the new colony. Phillip described Sydney Cove as being "without exception the finest harbour in the world".


Modern history

In 1883, the Queensland, Colony of Queensland tried to annex the southern half of eastern New Guinea, but the British government did not approve. The Commonwealth of Australia came into being when the Constitution of Australia, Federal Constitution was proclaimed by the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General, John Hope, 1st Marquess of Linlithgow, Lord Hopetoun, on 1 January 1901. From that point a system of federalism in Australia came into operation, entailing the establishment of an entirely new national government (the Commonwealth government) and an ongoing division of powers between that government and the States. With the encouragement of Queensland, in 1884, a British protectorate had been proclaimed over the southern coast of New Guinea and its adjacent islands. British New Guinea was annexed outright in 1888. The possession was placed under the authority of the newly federated Commonwealth of Australia in 1902 and with passage of the Papua Act of 1905, British New Guinea became the Australian Territory of Papua, with formal Australian administration beginning in 1906. The bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942 was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. In an effort to isolate Australia, the Japanese planned a seaborne invasion of Port Moresby, in the Australian Territory of New Guinea. Between July and November 1942, Australian forces repulsed Japanese attempts on the city by way of the Kokoda Track campaign, Kokoda Track, in the highlands of
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
. The Battle of Buna–Gona, between November 1942 and January 1943, set the tone for the bitter final stages of the New Guinea campaign, which persisted into 1945. The offensives in Papua and New Guinea of 1943–44 were the single largest series of connected operations ever mounted by the Australian armed forces. Following the 1998 commencement of Reformation (Indonesia), reforms across Indonesia, Papua and other Indonesian provinces received greater regional autonomy. In 2001, "Special Autonomy" status was granted to Papua province, although to date, implementation has been partial and often criticized. The region was administered as a single province until 2003, when it was split into the provinces of Papua, Indonesia, Papua and West Papua (province), West Papua. Elections in 1972 resulted in the formation of a ministry headed by Chief Minister Michael Somare, who pledged to lead the country to self-government and then to independence. Papua New Guinea became self-governing on 1 December 1973 and achieved independence on 16 September 1975. The country joined the United Nations (UN) on 10 October 1975. Migration brought large numbers of southern and central Europeans to Australia for the first time. A 1958 government leaflet assured readers that unskilled non-British migrants were needed for "labour on rugged projects ...work which is not generally acceptable to Australians or British workers". Australia fought on the side of Britain in the two world wars and became a long-standing ANZUS, ally of the United States when threatened by Imperial Japan during World War II. Trade with Asia increased and a post-war immigration program received more than 6.5 million migrants from every continent. Supported by immigration of people from more than 200 countries since the end of World War II, the population increased to more than 23 million by 2014.


Ecology


Flora

For about 40 million years Australia–New Guinea was almost completely isolated. During this time, the continent experienced numerous changes in climate, but the overall trend was towards greater aridity. When South America eventually separated from Antarctica, the development of the cold Antarctic Circumpolar Current changed weather patterns across the world. For Australia–New Guinea, it brought a marked intensification of the drying trend. The great inland seas and lakes dried out. Much of the long-established broad-leaf deciduous forest began to give way to the distinctive hard-leaved sclerophyllous plants that characterise the modern Australian landscape. Typical Southern Hemisphere flora include the conifers ''Podocarpus'' (eastern Australia and New Guinea), the rainforest emergents ''Araucaria'' (eastern Australia and New Guinea), ''Nothofagus'' (New Guinea and
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island States and territories of Australia, state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland, separated from it by Bass Strait. T ...
) and ''Agathis'' (northern Queensland and New Guinea), as well as tree ferns and several species of ''Eucalyptus''. Prominent features of the Australian flora are adaptations to aridity and fire which include sclerophyll, scleromorphy and serotiny. These adaptations are common in species from the large and well-known families Proteaceae (''Banksia''), Myrtaceae (''Eucalyptus'' or gum trees, ''Melaleucas'' and ''Callistemons''), Fabaceae (''Acacia''s or wattles and ''Casuarina'' or she-oaks) and ''Grevilleas'', which are typically found in the Australian mainland. The flora of New Guinea is a mixture of many tropical rainforest species with origins in Asia, such as ''Castanopsis acuminatissima,'' ''Lithocarpus'' spp., Elaeocarpaceae, elaeocarps, and Lauraceae, laurels, together with typically Australasian flora. In the New Guinean highlands, conifers such as ''Dacrycarpus, Dacrydium, Papuacedrus'' and ''Libocedrus'' are present. For many species, the primary refuge was the relatively cool and well-watered Great Dividing Range. Even today, pockets of remnant vegetation remain in the cool uplands, some species not much changed from the Gondwanan forms of 60 or 90 million years ago. Eventually, the Australia–New Guinea tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate to the north. The collision caused the northern part of the continent to buckle upwards, forming the high and rugged mountains of New Guinea and, by reverse (downwards) buckling, the
Torres Strait The Torres Strait (), also known as Zenadh Kes, is a strait A strait is a naturally formed, narrowing, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water. The surface water generally flows at the same elevation on both s ...

Torres Strait
that now separates the two main landmasses. The collision also pushed up the islands of Wallacea, which served as island 'stepping-stones' that allowed plants from Southeast Asia's rainforests to colonise New Guinea, and some plants from Australia–New Guinea to move into Southeast Asia. The ocean straits between the islands were narrow enough to allow plant dispersal, but served as an effective barrier to exchange of land mammals between Australia–New Guinea and Asia. Among the fungi, the remarkable association between ''Cyttaria'' ''gunnii'' (one of the "golf-ball" fungi) and its associated trees in the genus ''Nothofagus'' is evidence of that drift: the only other places where this association is known are New Zealand and southern Argentina and Chile.


Fauna

Due to the spread of animals, fungi and plants across the single Pleistocene landmass the separate lands have a related biome, biota. There are over 300 bird species in West Papua (province), West Papua, of which at least 20 are unique to the ecoregion, and some live only in very restricted areas. These include the grey-banded munia, Vogelkop bowerbird, and the king bird-of-paradise.WWF: Bird wonders of New Guinea's western-most province
retrieved 11 May 2010
Australia has a huge variety of animals; some 83% of mammals of Australia, mammals, 89% of reptiles of Australia, reptiles, 24% of fish and insects and 93% of amphibians that inhabit the continent are endemic to Australia.Williams, J. et al. 2001
''Biodiversity, Australia State of the Environment Report 2001'' (Theme Report)
CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra.
This high level of endemism can be attributed to the continent's long geographic isolation, plate tectonics, tectonic stability, and the effects of an unusual pattern of climate change on the soil and Flora of Australia, flora over geological time. Australia and its territories are home to around 800 species of bird; 45% of these are endemic to Australia. Predominant bird species in Australia include the Australian magpie, Australian raven, the pied currawong, crested pigeons and the laughing kookaburra. The koala, emu, platypus and kangaroo are national animals of Australia, and the Tasmanian devil is also one of the well-known animals in the country. The goanna is a predatory lizard native to the Australian mainland. As the continent drifted north from Antarctica, a unique Fauna (animals), fauna, Flora (plants), flora and Fungi, mycobiota developed. Marsupials and monotremes also existed on other continents, but only in Australia–New Guinea did they out-compete the Placentalia, placental mammals and come to dominate. New Guinea has 284 species and six orders of mammals: monotremes, three orders of marsupials, rodents and bats; 195 of the mammal species (69%) are endemic. New Guinea has a rich diversity of coral life and 1,200 species of fish have been found. Also about 600 species of reef-building coral—the latter equal to 75 percent of the world's known total. New Guinea has 578 species of breeding birds, of which 324 species are endemic. Aves, Bird life also flourished – in particular, the songbirds (order Passerine, Passeriformes, suborder Passeri) are thought to have evolved 50 million years ago in the part of
Gondwana Gondwana () or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (ge ...

Gondwana
that later became Australia, New Zealand,
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
, and
Antarctica Antarctica ( or ) is 's southernmost . It contains the geographic and is situated in the region of the , almost entirely south of the , and is surrounded by the . At , it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of . At 0.00 ...

Antarctica
, before radiating into a great number of different forms and then spreading around the globe. Animal groups such as Macropodidae, macropods, monotremes, and Cassowary, cassowaries are endemic to Australia. There were three main reasons for the enormous diversity that developed in animal, fungal and plant life. * While much of the rest of the world underwent significant cooling and thus loss of species diversity, Australia–New Guinea was drifting north at such a pace that the overall global cooling effect was roughly equalled by its gradual movement toward the equator. Temperatures in Australia–New Guinea, in other words, remained reasonably constant for a very long time, and a vast number of different animal, fungal and plant species were able to evolve to fit particular ecological niches. * Because the continent was more isolated than any other, very few outside species arrived to colonise, and unique native forms developed unimpeded. * Finally, despite the fact that the continent was already very old and thus relatively infertile, there are dispersed areas of high fertility. Where other continents had Volcanism, volcanic activity and/or massive Glacier, glaciation events to turn over fresh, unleached Rock (geology), rocks rich in minerals, the rocks and soils of Australia–New Guinea were left largely untouched except by gradual erosion and deep weathering. In general, fertile soils produce a profusion of life, and a relatively large number of species/level of biodiversity. This is because where nutrients are plentiful, competition is largely a matter of outcompeting rival species, leaving great scope for innovative co-evolution as is witnessed in tropical, fertile ecosystems. In contrast, infertile soils tend to induce competition on an abiotic basis meaning individuals all face constant environmental pressures, leaving less scope for divergent evolution, a process instrumental in creating new species. Although New Guinea is the most northerly part of the continent, and could be expected to be the most tropical climate, tropical in climate, the altitude of the New Guinea highlands is such that a great many animals and plants that were once common across Australia–New Guinea now survive only in the tropical highlands where they are severely threatened by population growth.


Climate

In New Guinea, the climate is mostly monsoonal (December to March), southeast monsoon (May to October), and tropical rainforest climate, tropical rainforest with slight seasonal temperature variation. In lower altitudes, the temperature is around 80 °F (27 °C) year round. But the higher altitudes, such as Mendi, are constantly around 70 °F (21 °C) with cool lows nearing 52 °F (11 °C), with abundant rainfall and high humidity. The
New Guinea Highlands The New Guinea Highlands, also known as the Central Range or Central Cordillera, is a long chain of mountain ranges on the island of New Guinea, including the island's tallest peak, Puncak Jaya , the highest mountain in Oceania. The range is home t ...
are one of the few regions close to the equator that experience snowfall, which occurs in the most elevated parts of the mainland. Some areas in the island experience an extraordinary amount of precipitation, averaging roughly of rainfall annually. The Australian landmass's climate is mostly desert or Semi-arid climate, semi-arid, with the southern coastal corners having a Temperateness, temperate climate, such as oceanic climate, oceanic and humid subtropical climate in the east coast and Mediterranean climate in the west. The northern parts of the country have a tropical climate. Snow falls frequently on the Great Dividing Range, highlands near the east coast, in the states of Victoria (Australia), Victoria, New South Wales,
Tasmania Tasmania (), abbreviated as TAS, is an island States and territories of Australia, state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Mainland Australia, Australian mainland, separated from it by Bass Strait. T ...
and in the Australian Capital Territory. Temperatures in Australia have ranged from above to well below . Nonetheless, minimum temperatures are moderated. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is associated with seasonal abnormality in many areas in the world. Australia is one of the continents most affected and experiences Drought in Australia, extensive droughts alongside considerable wet periods.


Demography


Religion

Christianity is the predominant religion in the continent, although large proportions of Australians belong to Irreligion, no religion.Christianity in its Global Context, 1970–2020 Society, Religion, and Mission
Center for the Study of Global Christianity
Other religions in the region include Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, which are prominent minority religions in Australia. Traditional religions are often Animism, animist, found in New Guinea. Islam is widespread in the Indonesian New Guinea. Many Papuans Religious syncretism, combine their Christian faith with traditional indigenous beliefs and practices.


Languages

"Aboriginal Australian languages", including the large Pama–Nyungan family, "Papuan languages" of
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu Hiri Motu, also known as Police Motu, Pidgin Motu, or just Hiri, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

New Guinea
and neighbouring islands, including the large Trans–New Guinea family, and "Tasmanian languages" are generic terms for the native languages of the continent other than those of Austronesian languages, Austronesian family. Predominant languages include English language, English in Australia, Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea, and Indonesian language, Indonesian (Malay) in Indonesian New Guinea. Immigration to Australia have brought overseas languages such as Italian language, Italian, Greek language, Greek, Arabic language, Arabic, Filipino language, Filipino, Mandarin language, Mandarin, Vietnamese language, Vietnamese and Spanish language, Spanish, among others. Contact between Austronesian and Papuan resulted in several instances in mixed languages such as Maisin language, Maisin. Tok Pisin is an English creole language spoken in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea has more languages than any other country, with over 820 indigenous languages, representing 12% of the world's total, but most have fewer than 1,000 speakers.


Immigration

Since 1945, more than 7 million people have settled in Australia. From the late 1970s, there was a significant increase in immigration from Asian and other non-European countries, making Australia a Multiculturalism in Australia, multicultural country. Sydney is the most multicultural city in Oceania, having more than 250 different languages spoken with about 40 percent of residents speaking a Languages Other Than English, language other than English at home. Furthermore, 36 percent of the population reported having been foreign born, born overseas, with top countries being Italy, Lebanon, Vietnam and Iraq, among others. Melbourne is also fairly multicultural, having the largest Greek community of Melbourne, Greek-speaking population outside of Europe, and the second largest Asian Australians, Asian population in Australia after Sydney.


Economy

Australia is the only first world country in the Australian-New Guinea continent, although the economy of Australia is by far the largest and most dominant economy in the region and one of the largest in the world. Australia's per-capita GDP is List of countries by GDP (PPP) per capita, higher than that of the UK, Canada, Germany, and France in terms of purchasing power parity. The Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney is the largest List of stock exchanges in Oceania, stock exchange in Australia and in the South Pacific. In 2012, Australia was the 12th largest national economy by nominal GDP and the 19th-largest measured by Purchasing power parity, PPP-adjusted GDP. Tourism in Australia is an important component of the Australian economy. In the financial year 2014/15, tourism represented 3.0% of Australia's Gross domestic product, GDP contributing A$47.5 billion to the national economy. In 2015, there were 7.4 million visitor arrivals. Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranks Sydney tenth in the world in terms of quality of living, making it one of the world's most livable cities, most livable cities. It is classified as an Alpha+ World City by Globalization and World Cities Research Network, GaWC. Melbourne also ranked highly in the World's Most Livable Cities, world's most liveable city list, and is a leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region. Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources, which account for two-thirds of their export earnings. Though PNG is filled with resources, the lack of country's development led foreign countries to take over few sites and continued foreign demand for PNG's resources and as a result, the United States constructed an oil company and began to export in 2004 and this was the largest project in PNG's history. Papua New Guinea is classified as a Developing country, developing economy by the International Monetary Fund. Strong growth in Mining in Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea's mining and resource sector led to the country becoming the sixth List of countries by real GDP growth rate, fastest-growing economy in the world in 2011.


Politics

Australia is a federalism, federal parliamentary system, parliamentary constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II at its apex as the Monarchy of Australia, Queen of Australia, a role that is distinct from her position as monarch of the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen is represented in Australia by the Governor-General of Australia, Governor-General at the federal level and by the Governors of the Australian states, Governors at the state level, who by convention act on the advice of her ministers. There are two major political groups that usually form government, federally and in the states: the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition (Australia), Coalition which is a formal grouping of the Liberal Party of Australia, Liberal Party and its minor partner, the National Party of Australia, National Party. Within Australian political culture, the Coalition is considered centre-right and the Labor Party is considered centre-left. Papua New Guinea is a Commonwealth realm. As such, Queen Elizabeth II is its sovereign and head of state. The constitutional convention, which prepared the draft constitution, and Australia, the outgoing metropolitan power, had thought that Papua New Guinea would not remain a monarchy. The founders, however, considered that imperial honours had a cachet. The monarch is represented by the Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, currently Bob Dadae. Papua New Guinea (along with the Solomon Islands) is unusual among Commonwealth realms in that governors-general are elected by the legislature, rather than chosen by the executive branch.


Culture

Since 1788, the primary influence behind Australian culture has been Anglo-Celtic Western culture, with some Indigenous Australians, Indigenous influences. The divergence and evolution that has occurred in the ensuing centuries has resulted in a distinctive Australian culture. Since the mid-20th century, Culture of the United States, American popular culture has strongly influenced Australia, particularly through television and cinema.#Teo, Teo and White, pp. 121–23. Other cultural influences come from neighbouring Asian countries, and through large-scale immigration from non-English-speaking nations. The Australian Museum in Sydney and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne are the oldest and List of largest art museums, largest museums in the continent, as well as in
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth ...

Oceania
.National Gallery of Victoria – Victorian Heritage Register Sydney's Sydney New Year's Eve, New Year's Eve celebrations are the largest in the continent. It is estimated that more than 7000 different cultural groups exist in Papua New Guinea, and most groups have their own language. Because of this diversity, in which they take pride, many different styles of cultural expression have emerged; each group has created its own expressive forms in art, performance art, weaponry, costumes and architecture. Papua New Guinea is one of the few cultures in Oceania to practice the tradition of bride price. In particular, Papua New Guinea is world-famous for carved wooden sculpture: masks, canoes, story-boards. Australia has a tradition of Aboriginal art which is thousands of years old, the best known forms being rock art and bark painting. Evidence of Aboriginal art in Australia can be traced back at least 30,000 years. Examples of ancient Aboriginal rock artworks can be found throughout the continent – notably in national parks such as those of the UNESCO listed sites at Uluru and Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, but also within Sydney rock engravings, protected parks in urban areas such as at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney. Aboriginal culture includes a number of practices and ceremonies centered on a belief in the Dreamtime. Reverence for the land and oral traditions are emphasized.


Sport

Popular sports in Papua New Guinea include various codes of football (rugby league, rugby union, soccer, and Australian rules football), cricket, volleyball, softball, netball, and basketball. Other Olympic Games, Olympic sports are also gaining popularity, such as boxing and Olympic weightlifting, weightlifting. Rugby league is the most popular sport in Papua New Guinea (especially in the highlands), which also unofficially holds the title as the ''national sport''. The most popular sport in Australia is cricket, the most popular sport among Australian women is netball, while Australian rules football is the most popular sport in terms of spectatorship and television ratings. Australia has hosted two Summer Olympic Games: 1956 Summer Olympics, Melbourne 1956 and 2000 Summer Olympics, Sydney 2000. Australia has also hosted five editions of the Commonwealth Games (1938 British Empire Games, Sydney 1938, 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, Perth 1962, 1982 Commonwealth Games, Brisbane 1982, 2006 Commonwealth Games, Melbourne 2006, and 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast 2018). In 2006 Socceroo, Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation and qualified for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2014 World Cups as an Asian entrant.


See also

* Australian Plate * List of islands in the Pacific Ocean * Outline of Australia * Paleoclimatology


References


Bibliography

* {{Authority control Australia (continent), Continents Oceania Asia-Pacific Pacific Ocean Southern Ocean Indian Ocean