History in Australia
Australia is old. Aboriginals date back more than 40,000 years, and it is thought they originally came from Papua New Guinea on little wooden boats to the north of Australia. It was probably one of the most arduous trips of all time, all in the name of discovery.
If we fast forward quite a few thousand years to the 17th century then we see the first arrival of western settlers. Obviously all the time in-between aboriginals had a very big place to themselves.
First the Dutch came, then the English. There were probably more but no-one can remember them. In 1770 an Englishman called James Cook (Captain Cook to you) mapped the east-coast of Australia. A flag was planted and in typical English fashion they claimed the country as their own (sound familiar?). The official date of the birth of Australia (in the English sense) was the 26th January 1788.
Some 160,000 convicts were transported to Australia between 1788 and 1868, where they became the lords of the land and they all called themselves Ned. In Newcastle (Australia, not England) they dug a big swimming pool into a granite rock. That's how much time they had on their hands.
In 1852 alone, 370,000 immigrants arrived in Australia. By 1871 the total population had nearly quadrupled from 430,000 to 1.7 million people.
Over time the English became Australian, changed their names from Ned to Bruce, and were proud of it. Australia grew. They started mining gold, which made money, so they built big, vibrant cities on the coast.
The Aussie's have also helped out in a few wars - WWI, WWII and Vietnam. Australians fought in many of the major battles in WWI and quite a few soldiers died from the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) at the battle of Gallipoli (1915-1916). ANZAC day, 25 April, is a public holiday because of this, so give some respect to the fallen comrades who gave their lives for others.
Since the end of WWII, Australia has been transformed. It enjoyed a long period of economic growth after 1945, attracting hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Europe and Asia. According to the International Monetary Fund, it is now the world's sixth-richest country in terms of GDP per head.
The Australia Act 1986 severed the final ties between Australia and the UK, meaning that the UK no longer had any say in how Australia was governed. However, the Queen remained as the head of state. In a 1999 referendum, 55% of Australian rejected a proposal to become a republic.