The last continent to be claimed by Europeans, Australia began to be settled by the British in 1788 in the form of a jail for its convicts. While British culture has had the largest influence on the country and its presence can be seen everywhere, the British were not Australia's original populace. The first inhabitants of Australia, the Aborigines, are believed to have migrated from Southeast Asia into northern Australia as early as 60,000 years ago. This distinctive blend of vastly different cultures contributed to the ease with which Australia has become one of the world's most successful immigrant nations. The third edition of the Historical Dictionary of Australia relates the history of this unique and beautiful land, which is home to an amazing range of flora and fauna, a climate that ranges from tropical forests to arid deserts, and the largest single collection of coral reefs and islands in the world. Through a detailed chronology, an introduction, appendixes, a bibliography, and cross referenced dictionary entries on some of the more significant persons, places, and events; institutions and organizations; and political, economic, social, cultural, and religious facets.
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