Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years ago. Europeans began exploration of Australia in the 17th century. Territorial claims were made in 1770, when Capt. James Cook took possession in the name of Great Britain. Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries.
long form: Commonwealth of Australia
short form: Australia
January 1, 1901 federation of UK colonies
Australian Flag Description:
Blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large seven-pointed star in the lower hoist-side quadrant known as the Commonwealth Star, the star depicts one point for each of the six original states and one representing all of Australia's internal and external territories; the remaining half is a representation of the Southern Cross constellation in white with one small five-pointed star and four larger, seven-pointed stars