Australia, The Commonwealth of Australia, is a country located in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia comprises the world's smallest continent as well as a number of islands in the Southern, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Neighboring Countries to Australia include: Indonesia, The Solomon Islands, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand. Australia the continent has been inhabited for an estimated 500 years by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. After several random visitations by European expeditionists and merchants from the 17th century onwards, the British claimed the eastern half of the country in 1770. Britain officially settled as the penal colony of New South Wales in January of 1788.
Population grew quickly in Australia as new areas were explored. As a result another five self-governing Crown Colonies were established in succession during the 19th century. In January of 1901 the six colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Currently Australia has a population of around 20 million, concentrated heavily in the Eastern coastal cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Feel free to reprint this article as long as you keep the following caption and author biography in tact with all hyperlinks.