|National motto: None|
|Prime Minister||Julie Bishop|
The Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the mainland of the world's smallest continent, the major island of Tasmania and a number of other islands in the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. The neighbouring countries are Indonesia to the north, the Kamichi Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.
The Australian mainland has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by Indigenous Australians. After sporadic visits by fishermen from the north and by European explorers and merchants starting in the 17th century, the eastern half of Australia was claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation as part of the colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown Colonies were established during the 19th century.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies became a federation, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system. The capital city is Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory. The population is 19.5 million, and is concentrated in the mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.
Australia is a liberal parliamentary democracy. The 150-seat House of Representatives and the 76-seat Senate are both elected by proportional representation. A President has been Australia's Head of State since 1984, when the constitutional monarchy, shared with Britain, was abolished. The President is chosen by a two-thirds majority of a joint sitting of Parliament. The Prime Minister is the head of government. The current President is Marilyn Warren, a former constitutional lawyer and High Court judge; the current Prime Minister is Julie Bishop of the Democratic Liberal Party.