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Introduction: Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession of the east coast in the name of Great Britain (all of Australia was claimed as British territory in 1829 with the creation of the colony of Western Australia). Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and...

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History: Australia was uninhabited until stone-culture peoples arrived, perhaps by boat across the waters separating the island from the Indonesia archipelago more than 40,000 years ago. Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English explorers observed the island before 1770, when Captain Cook explored the east coast and claimed it for Great Britain. (Three American colonists were crew members aboard Cook's ...

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International relations: Foreign policy

Australia maintains close ties with Europe and North America, and has a history of active engagement throughout Asia and the Pacific. Australia has long-standing security and intelligence relationships with the US and UK. In 2011 Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the development of a White Paper titled "Australia in the Asian Century". Gillard said that Australia would seek a peaceful rules-based Asia, effective regional institutions, with "space for a rising China, and a robust US-Australia alliance". Australia supports continued US strategic engagement in Asia as an essential contribution to regional ...

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Overview: Australia’s transportation system must contend with the challenges of a vast, thinly populated continent. Over time, railroads have suffered from incompatibility as a result of the use of different gauges, but in January 2004 the first intercontinental rail service opened between the southern city of Adelaide and the northern city of Darwin. The road system varies in quality. More ...

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