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is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands.
It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area.
With the loss of its American colonies in 1783, the British Government sent a fleet of ships, the "First Fleet", under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, to establish a new penal colony in New South Wales.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia.
Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy comprising six states and several territories.
At the time of European settlement in the late 18th century, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime.
The Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, were originally horticulturists and hunter-gatherers.