It has been established, through archaeological exploration, that Tasmania was first inhabited between 20000 and 30000 years ago, when the island was still a part of the mainland. It was first sighted by European explorers in 1642. At that time, it was named “Van Diemen’s Land”, in honor of the Governor-General of the Dutch-East India Company who funded the expedition. It was renamed Tasmania in 1856 for Abel Tasman, its “discoverer”.
Van Diemen’s Land was visited by both French explorers (1722 and 1779) and English explorers (1773, 1777, 1788, 1792, 1789, and 1794). In 1798, two British expeditions sailed completely around the island, thus establishing that it was totally separated from mainland Australia. And although Captain James Cook had claimed Australia for the British Crown in 1777, the island was not included in that claim until 1788.
When the British first came in contact with the Aborigines, who were the first settlers in the island, they were fearful and hostile toward them. in their concern that the natives would fight for the lands which British colonists wanted for settlement, the authorities invoked “terra nullius”, or “vacant domain”. The Aborigines protested the usurpation of their long-standing land rights, and a bitter conflict ensued.
In 1832, in an attempt to end the bitter, and sometimes bloody, conflict between the Aborigines and the British settlers, the British authorities gathered the last free groups of the Aborigines and moved them to a central location on Flinders Island. Their numbers depleted, and the survivors were tranferred to Oyster Bay in 1847. However by 1876, those survivors had also passed away. The descendants of those who had been “incarcerated” continued to flourish. But they were considered to be outcasts by the European community because of the “stain” of convict ancestry. There were only 38 Aborigines listed in the 1961 census for the island. Today though, through public enlightenment and growing pride in their heritage, about 12,000 Tasmanian citizens are counted as having their roots in the Aboriginal ancestry.
Tasmania is roughly the size of West Virginia (14974 sq. mi., or 38769 sq. km.), making it the smallest Australian State. It’s located about 240 km. (150 mi.) off the coast of mainland Australia, at the southeastern corner. It has a population of 485,000, of which 200,000 live in the capital city of Hobart. Over one-third of the state has been preserved for National Parks and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Its governing body is a Parliament, which has three parts: The Crown, the Legislative Council, and the House of Assembly. The government leader is the Premier and the size of its Ministry varies, but cannot exceed ten members. it is represented in the Australian Federal Government by five Representatives in the House, and twelve Senators.
Before word of the gold discovery, it was almost impossible to attract settlers to Victoria. Of course, that changed rapidly and men began pouring into the area by the thousands. Efforts were made, by the governing body of that time, to attract more women and families. By the end of 1851, 30,000 immigrants had arrived from Britain, China, Europe, and America. Between 1851 and 1861, Victoria had grown from a young colony of 76,000 to a very prosperous area boasting 540,000 people – 45% of the Australian population at that time.
Victoria’s first settlement was Portland, on the western coast. In 1835 John Batman founded Melbourne, which is the capital of Victoria today. During the Gold Rush of 1851, the colony gained its independence from New South Wales. Its capital city was the capital of Australia while Canberra was under construction. Victoria was pivotal in the forming of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Victorian government consists of a Cabinet, which is the main decision-making body. The Cabinet is all of the Ministers of the Crown, and the Cabinet Secretary. The Premier of the State is the Chairperson of the Cabinet. The governing body, as a whole, is based upon the Westminster System. There is a Governor – who is the Representative of the Queen, the Executive (the Government), and two legislative chambers. Those two Chambers are the Legislative Assembly – which consists of 88 members, and the Legislative Council – which has 44 members. The State is represented in the Federal Government by 37 member in the House of Representatives and 12 Senators.
The State of Victoria is located at the south eastern tip of Australia. It is bordered on the north by New South Wales and on the west by South Australia. It is directly north of Tasmania, separated by 240 km. (150 mi.).
Victoria is the second smallest of the Australian States, with a total of 237,629 sq. km. (91784 sq.mi.). Its population at the end of June 2005 was 5,022,300, making it the second most populated state. Seventy percent of that total population inhabits the capital city of Melbourne.