|a country and the smallest continent, situated between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific: a former British colony, now an independent member of the Commonwealth, constitutional links with Britain formally abolished in 1986; consists chiefly of a low plateau, mostly arid in the west, with the basin of the Murray River and the Great Dividing Range in the east and the Great Barrier Reef off the NE coast. Official language: English. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: dollar. Capital: Canberra. Pop: 19 913 000 (2004 est). Area: 7 682 300 sq km (2 966 150 sq miles)|
Note: The first settlements there were penal colonies for British convicts.
Note: Its aboriginal tribes, which still exist today (see aborigines), are thought to have migrated from Southeast Asia twenty thousand years ago.