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For at least 40,000 years before European settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who belonged to one or more of the roughly 250 language groups.After sporadic visits by fishermen from the immediate north and discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606,Australia's eastern half was claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales, founded on 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in the following years; the continent was explored and an additional five largely self-governing Crown Colonies were established during the 19th centur
The consensus among scholars for the arrival of humans of Australia is placed at 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, but possibly as early as 70,000 years ago.The earliest human remains found to date are those found at Lake Mungo, a dry lake in the south west of New South Wales. These have been dated at about 40,000 years old At the time of first European contact, it has been estimated the population of Australian Aborigines was at least 350,000. while recent archaeological finds suggest that a population of 750,000 could have been sustained.The ancestors of the Aborigines appear to have arrived by sea during one of the earth’s periods of glaciation, when New Guinea and Tasmania were joined to the continent. The journey still required sea travel however, making them amongst the world’s earlier mariners
Several writers have made attempts to prove that Europeans visited Australia during the 16th century. Kenneth McIntyre and others have argued that the Portuguese had secretly discovered Australia in the 1520s. The presence of a landmass labelled "Jave la Grande" on the Dieppe Maps is often cited as evidence for a "Portuguese discovery". However, the Dieppe Maps also openly reflected the incomplete state of geographical knowledge at the time, both actual and theoretical. And it has also been argued that Jave la Grande was a hypothetical notion, reflecting 16th century notions of cosmography. Although theories of visits by Europeans, prior to the 17th century, continue to attract popular interest in Australia and elsewhere, they are generally regarded as contentious and lacking substantial evidence.
Willem Janszoon is credited with the first authenticated European discovery of Australia in 1606. Luis Váez de Torres passed through Torres Strait in the same year and may have sighted Australia's northern coast. Janszoon's discoveries inspired several mariners, among them, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, to further chart the area.
World War Two
Australia entered World War II shortly after the invasion of Poland, declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939. By the end of the war, almost a million Australians had served in the armed forces, whose military units fought primarily in the European theatre, North African campaign, and the South West Pacific theatre. In addition, Australia came under direct attack for the first time in its history; its casualties from enemy action during the war were 27,073 killed and 23,477 wounded.
In effect, Australia fought two wars between 1939 and 1945 – one against Germany and Italy as part of the British Commonwealth's war effort and the other against Japan in alliance with the United States and Britain. While most Australian forces were withdrawn from the Mediterranean following the outbreak of war in the Pacific, they continued to take part in large numbers in the air offensive against Germany. From 1942 until early 1944, Australian forces played a key role in the Pacific War, making up the majority of Allied strength in the South West Pacific. The military was largely relegated to subsidiary fronts from mid-1944, but continued offensive operations against the Japanese until the war ended.
World War II contributed to major changes in the nation's economy, military and foreign policy. The war accelerated the process of industrialisation, led to the development of a larger peacetime military and began the process with which Australia shifted the focus of its foreign policy from Britain to the United States. The effects of the war also fostered the development of a more diverse and cosmopolitan Australian society.
After The War
Following World War II, the Australian government instigated a massive program of European immigration. After narrowly preventing a Japanese invasion and suffering attacks on Australian soil for the first time, it was seen that the country must "populate or perish". Immigration brought traditional migrants from the United Kingdom along with, for the first time, large numbers of southern and central Europeans. A booming Australian economy stood in sharp contrast to war-ravaged Europe, and newly arrived migrants found employment in government assisted programs such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Six million immigrants arrived between 1948 and 1954, Australia has also help New Zealand in providing funds to the British Isles.