The first people came to Australia from Southeast Asia more than 40,000 years ago, while the nation of Australia was founded by British immigrants.

In 1770, British seafarer James Cook went ashore south of what is today Sydney, taking possession of the entire East Coast, which he called New South Wales, on behalf of the British King. This became the first of a total of six British colonies, which by the end of the 19th century decided to form a federation. The Commonwealth of the Australian States was established on January 1, 1901 and Australia had become a constitutional monarchy and a free, federal state.

During World War I, Australia enthusiastically entered the war on the British side. The war cost 60,000 Australian lives, and this gained a unifying and identity creation for the new federal state. At the outbreak of World War II followed Australia again after Britain, and declared war on Germany. The war became a turning point in the country’s security policy, and in 1951 Australia entered into an alliance with the United States.

The first 20 years after the war became a golden age with strong economic growth. Major development projects were completed and modern Australia was created.

Ever since the establishment of the federal state of Australia, the desire to restrict immigration from Asia (White Australia policy) was central. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Australia. It was not until the 1970s that Australia began to open up to Asia. Developing relations with Asia in the economic sphere accelerated in the 1990s and provided the export-dependent Australian economy with new markets in Asia.

White Australia policy also meant a denial of the rights of the indigenous people, and the Australian authorities led to a strict assimilation policy until the 1960s, and the indigenous people are heavily marginalized and mostly living in great poverty.

History of Australia


The nation of Australia was founded by British immigrants, but was inhabited long before the British colonization. The first people came to Australia from Southeast Asia more than 40,000 years ago. Little is known about this yet.

European exploration of Australia began in the 17th century. It is believed that Portuguese seafarers landed in Australia as early as 1601. In the following years, several Spanish and Dutch ships were in Australian waters, and the Dutch had a good knowledge of the west coast, which they called New Holland.

In 1642, Dutchman Abel Tasman came to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), as the first European. By the end of the 17th century, the Dutch had sailed around most of Australia and knew it was surrounded by seas.

  • Countryaah: Check to see the location of Australia on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Australia.

British colonization

In 1770, British seafarer James Cook landed in Botany Bay, located just south of present-day Sydney, taking possession of the entire east coast of Australia on behalf of the British King. He called the country New South Wales.

The British began sending prisoners to Australia, which became a relief place for overcrowded British prisons. A total of eleven ships loaded with prisoners left the UK heading south, and 750 prisoners landed in 1788 in what is now Sydney Harbor. The British colonization thus started in full force and New South Wales was declared a colony.

Especially during the Napoleonic Wars, large captive transports went to Australia. Deportations continued until 1868, when a total of 160,000 prisoners had been deported. Most deportees were sent to New South Wales, but many also came to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania from 1856). After the prison sentence, the deportees settled in the good agricultural areas as free citizens.

At the beginning of the 19th century, British officers introduced merino mosaics from South Africa. Wool production quickly became large in scope and became of great economic importance. Essentially, the wool was exported to the United Kingdom. In 1823, what had been a military rule in New South Wales was abolished, and the area became a crown colony under its own governor. Self-government developed rapidly. In 1837, the population was 50,000, half of whom were deported prisoners. Exploration of the hinterland took place especially in the first half of the 19th century, but until the 20th century there were unexplored areas.

A number of new colonies were created in the 19th century; Tasmania (1825), Western Australia (1829), South Australia (1836), Victoria (1851) and Queensland (1859). In 1851, gold discoveries were made that greatly stimulated immigration. The colonies grew in numbers and developed a high degree of self-government. Many social and economic reforms were implemented at a faster pace than in the United Kingdom. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 strengthened contact between Australia and the United Kingdom, and trade gained momentum.

Commonwealth of the Australian States

In the late 1800s, the colonies passed several regulations that set strict limits on immigration from Asian countries, especially China. Based on the desire to have a common customs policy and facilitate trade, representatives from all six colonies met in 1891 to discuss the possibility of forming a federation. Foreign policy motives also played a role, not least the need for a concerted approach to meet, among other things, German expansion in the Pacific. During the conference in 1891, the colonies agreed on the guidelines of the work and adopted the principles for a new constitution. The majority of the population of Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia was for a federation, while the population of New South Wales was divided. A referendum there gave hardly a majority for the federation in 1898. The following year, representatives of the various states met for a conference in which the state of Queensland also attended for the first time. Western Australia was the last state to adopt the new constitution. Formally, the Constitution which made Australia the Commonwealth of the Australian States came into force on 1 January 1901.

Australia was given progressive constitution in many areas, and Australia was the second country in the world to give women the right to vote. Australia became a constitutional monarchy and a federal state consisting of the six states; each with its own parliament under a federal government. Australia had become a free country, but was still part of the British Commonwealth. The British monarch became head of state, represented by a Governor General.

It was not until 1909 that the country gained a capital, Canberra, in an area separated from New South Wales. The federal government stayed on a temporary basis in Melbourne until 1927, when a new parliament building was inaugurated in Canberra.

World wars

In the first years after the founding of the Commonwealth, the issue of immigration was an important political issue. There was agreement between the political parties to seek to restrict immigration from Asia (White Australia policy), and a law on this was passed in 1902.

The labor movement emerged as the best organized political party in the new state, and the Australian Labor Party (ALP) formed minority governments in 1904 and 1908, but the party first gained a pure majority in 1914.

World War I was in many ways a crossroads in Australian history. Australia joined the British side with patriotic enthusiasm. More than 300,000 volunteers fought in the Middle East and on the Western Front. The war cost a total of 60,000 Australian lives.

During an assault against the Ottoman Empire on the Gallipoli Peninsula, soldiers from Australia and New Zealand (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC)) participated. During the Gallipoli campaign, more than 8,000 Australian soldiers died. This became a traumatic event of unifying and identity-creating significance for the new federal state. Each year, the official Australia commemorates what happened in Gallipoli and the many of the country’s soldiers who have been killed or disabled on the battlefield in other countries (ANZAC Day, April 25).

At the end of the First World War, Australia entered the world stage. The country became a member of the League of Nations and gained, among other things, the former German colony in New Guinea as the mandate area of ​​the League of Nations. Prime Minister Billy Hughes signed in 1919 on behalf of Australia the Treaty of Peace in Versailles and the League of Nations.

As a country with a small and export-dependent economy, Australia was hit hard by the great economic crisis that followed the crackdown on Wall Street in 1929. The prices of export goods such as wool and wheat fell sharply and it became impossible for Australia to borrow money. Unemployment, which stood at 13 percent at the end of 1929, rose to a full 28 percent at the end of 1932. However, the economy improved relatively quickly, partly because of the resumption of exports.

Just before the outbreak of World War II, the United Australia Party formed government with Robert Menzies as prime minister. After Britain declared Germany war, Prime Minister Menzies laconically informed the Australian people that Australia was also at war. Major Australian forces participated in several front sections. One million soldiers, that is, every fourth male inhabitant, were mobilized.

In 1941, the Labor Party was formed under the leadership of John Curtin’s government. Australia came to war with Japan in December 1941 and now became one of the most important Allied bases in the Pacific.


The first two decades after World War II became a golden age. There was strong economic growth and work for everyone. In 1948, therefore, the government introduced a program for immigration from Europe, and the population almost doubled during this period. Major construction projects were completed, including a major electricity development in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. A Norwegian company and several hundred Norwegian workers participated in this project, which provided electrical power and irrigation systems to large areas. Modern Australia was created during this period.

World War II became a turning point in Australian defense and security policy.

Until the Second World War, Britain was largely responsible for Australia’s foreign and security policy interests. During the war, it became clear that the United Kingdom was no longer able to defend its Commonwealth members in Asia and the Pacific. Australia, afraid of being left alone in hostile surroundings, had to find a new and powerful friend. The war had shown that it was the United States the country had to rely on. An alliance with the United States was formalized in the ANZUS Treaty of 1951 (including New Zealand), which has since been a cornerstone of the country’s foreign and security policy.

The Labor Party (ALP) also held power in the first post-war era, but in the 1949 elections a coalition of the Liberal Party (formerly the United Australia Party) and the National Party, which is an agricultural-led party led by Robert Menzies, prevailed.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Australia as one of the first countries sent forces to South Korea, and in 1964 Australia sent the first military forces to assist in the US war in Vietnam.

Robert Menzies dominated Australian politics until 1966 when he resigned as prime minister. He is the Australian prime minister who has been in power for the longest time. After Menzies resigned, the coalition between the Liberal Party and the National Party in government continued under various Prime Ministers until 1972. Australia has for all practical purposes a two-party system and the government has since switched between the Liberal Party and the National Party. on the one hand and the Labor Party (ALP) on the other.

At the 1972 election, the Labor Party came to power after 23 years in opposition. Gough Whitlam became prime minister and advocated a reorientation of foreign policy. Political and economic ties with Asia were strengthened and Japan became its main trading partner. A diplomatic connection was established with the People’s Republic of China, and the traditional ties to Britain became the subject of critical re-evaluation after the British entered the EC in 1973.

After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Australia opened for the first time to more extensive Asian immigration. However, to reduce unemployment, immigration as a whole was reduced.

In October 1975, a unique political crisis arose. Queen Elizabeth’s local representative, the Governor-General, intervened in a budget dispute and dismissed Prime Minister Whitlam. Something like that had never happened before and gave rise to Republican agitation. In the December 1975 elections, the Liberal Party prevailed, and Malcolm Fraser became head of a government coalition with the National Party for eight years. In 1983, the Labor Party won big, and a former union leader, Robert Hawke, became prime minister.

Hawke dominated Australian politics in the 1980s and led Labor to three successive electoral victories in 1984, 1987 and 1990. After fierce controversy over party leadership, Hawke lost to his former finance minister Paul Keating, who took over as prime minister in December 1991.

Keating announced as one of its political goals to make Australia a republic. The discussion on this issue then gained new industry and has since been a recurring theme in the public debate in the country.

The economic golden age after World War II ended in the 1970s, and the problems intensified throughout the 1980s. This was a time of high inflation, low growth, rising unemployment and large deficits in the foreign economy. The oil crisis led to downturns in Western countries, and declining demand for Australian agricultural commodities and mineral resources. This hit the heavily export-dependent Australian economy hard, and the country experienced the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.

Globalization had taken its toll and new instruments in the economy were needed. In 1983, the Labor Party government, without consulting the party, took the startling step of allowing the Australian dollar to flow freely and abolishing control of capital movements in and out of Australia. An extensive privatization and reduction of customs duties was also undertaken.

The Hawke and Keating governments continued to develop political and economic relations with Asia. Hawke initiated the creation of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). The APEC partnership consists of 21 Pacific countries, including China and the United States. The founding meeting was held in Canberra in 1989.

Development of relations with Asia, primarily in the economic field, has been ongoing since the 1990s and has helped to create new markets for Australia. China and other energy-hungry Asian countries’ appetite for the rich Australian deposits of mineral resources (including coal, iron ore and uranium) provide good export revenue for Australia.

Relationship with indigenous people

The relationship with the indigenous people, the Australian Aborigines, is a very difficult and delicate issue. The Aborigines are a nomadic gatherer and hunter, divided into hundreds of tribes. When the British landed in 1788, they declared Australia to be no man’s land because they believed that the aboriginal people had not settled down and used the land.

When Australia became independent in 1901, 1.8 million people lived in Australia. The strong influx of immigrants greatly affected the original Aboriginal population, who were displaced from their settlements. Many were also killed or killed by infectious diseases brought by the immigrants.

White Australia – the policy that followed the establishment of the Nation of Australia in 1901 was also a denial of the rights of indigenous peoples. The authorities led to a strict assimilation policy until the 1960s, which included taking children from Aboriginal parents and forcing them to white families or Australian institutions. It was not until 1967 that Aborigines gained full civil rights.

Aborigines make up around 2.4 percent of Australia’s population and are the most marginalized population in the country. The majority live in desperate poverty, either in inland reserves or in slums in cities, and suffer from major intoxication problems, social security dependence, poor health and low life expectancy.

The need for reconciliation between indigenous people and immigrants has been a traumatic theme in Australian politics. It was not until 2008 that then-prime minister Kevin Rudd made a historic apology to the indigenous people during a ceremony in the Canberra parliament.

History of Important dates in Australia’s

A brief historical overview

About. 40 000 BC The first people come to Australia from Asia
1600s Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch seafarers sail around Australia
1642 Abel Tasman discovers the island of Van Diemen’s land (now Tasmania)
1770 James Cook explores the east coast of Australia (Botany Bay) and takes the land into British possession
1788-1868 Eastern and Southern Australia are colonized by deported prisoners
1800s Voluntary immigration begins in earnest; the colonists spread all over the continent
1851-1861 Gullrush triples the population
1880 Ban on Chinese immigration
1901 Self-government and dominion status (organized as Commonwealth of the Australian States)
1914-1918 The country participates in the First World War on the United Kingdom
1930 Deep economic crisis
1939-1945 The country participates in the Second World War on the United Kingdom
1942 Japan’s entry into the war increases the threat to Australia, but the danger of invasion is averted with victory in the Sea Battle in the Coral Sea
1949 Robert Menzies forms liberal-conservative coalition government
1950 Australia participates in the Korean War and is linked to Western military cooperation through ANZUS (1951) and SEATO (1954). Great immigration
1964-1970 Australia participates in the Vietnam War
1972-1975 Labor government under Gough Whitlam restricts immigration (especially of non-whites). Government crisis ends with the Governor-General dismissing Whitlam and printing new elections. Following Liberal election victory, Malcolm Fraser forms new government
1975 Papua New Guinea becomes independent
1977 The indigenous people are given ownership of traditional settlements
1980 Financial problems due to falling commodity prices. Increasing conflicts between the government and the indigenous population
1983 Labor leader Bob Hawke forms government
1990 Australia is further developing political and economic relations with Asia. New Prime Minister Paul Keating (from 1991) puts the issue of Republic on the agenda. The 1999 referendum goes against violations of the monarchy.
1996 John Howard forms a bourgeois coalition government. Howard is re-elected in 1998 and 2001. The Liberal Party’s government turns significantly to the right under Howard, who leads a hard line against asylum seekers and Aborigines
2003 Australia participates in the Iraq war. In July, Australia commands a multinational intervention force in the Solomon Islands; in October, Canberra sends a major police force to Papua New Guinea. This is part of Australia’s new Pacific strategy, called Cooperative Intervention.
History of Australia
Tagged on: