From Encyc

Australia is the 6th largest country in the world by land mass and is the smallest continent. The vast majority of people live in urban centres, and Australia is one of the most urbanised countries in the world. Australia's population is approximately 22 million, and it is not regarded as an important country in world terms.

According to aboriginal history (the native people of Australia), Australia was settled originally by people who walked over 40,000 years ago in the last ice age, apparently from Africa, and the same people also settled on nearby islands including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. A more recent suggestion is that they may have alternatively come from India and that there may have been people in Australia prior to that migration.

In 1770, British explorer Captain James Cook discovered Australia, in terms of western discovery. Sections of Australia had probably been discovered by Dutch explorers (Tasmania was called Van Diemen's land for a while), although complete maps were never made. Because of Australia's rough coastline and hostile creatures, Australia may have been known as "the end of the world", as popularised by Vikings, that led to a reintroduction of the previously dispelled belief that the world was flat. James Cook was the first sailor that had safely settled in Australia. Because of the likely crash landings in Australia prior to 1770, the actual makeup of aboriginals probably also includes Portugese, Spanish, Dutch and possibly Viking, at least in areas where ships had crashed. No exact details are known as to what happened prior to 1770 and historically this remains a mystery.

James Cook's landing in 1770 in Botany Bay, near Sydney, New South Wales, was warmly received by aboriginals, and James Cook upon his return reported that it was a safe place to settle. This was in stark contrast to New Zealand, where their native maori people attacked white settlers, as was the case in many other island nations that were constantly at war. Captain Cook himself was eventually murdered in Hawaii by native people in an apparent misunderstanding. James Cook nonetheless spoke kindly of Australia and its native people, and is highly regarded by both aboriginals and white Australians alike to this day. The friendliness itself suggests that James Cook was not the first person to have landed in Australia.

In 1788, Captain Philip arrived to settle Australia, on January 26th, in what is now known as "Australia Day" (although aboriginals refer to it as "invasion day"). This arrival is recorded as being particularly hostile, apparently due to Captain Philip believing that the native people would be as violent as the natives in nearby islands such as Fiji or New Zealand. Many aboriginals were murdered as they came to greet them.

Australia did not officially become a country in its own right until 1st January 1901. Prior to that it was known as a colony of Great Britain. To this day it still remains a nation under the commonwealth of Great Britain, with the British monarch the official leader of Australia, and the governor-general able to undo any decisions. In reality, however, this rarely happens, although in the 1970s Gough Whitlam was deposed as Prime Minister of Australia by the governor general.

Australia is a democracy, although in some ways it is regarded as a socialist democracy, as they attempt to combine communism with democracy, in a similar way to Sweden, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Australia has free health care for all people, they give welfare to anyone who cannot get a job and generally guarantee that nobody will ever starve to death or be homeless. As such, Australia has one of the lowest differences between rich and poor in the world, possibly the lowest. Australia's rich are not very rich and there are not very many of them, but nor are there many poor. This in itself has led to Australia being considerably poorer overall than they would be if they allowed people to starve to death.

Australia currently has 2 major political parties: the Labor and Liberal parties. In Queensland the National Party are also a major party, although in nationwide terms the National Party combines with the Liberal party to form a coalition. Traditionally, whoever is the leader of the National Party is the 2nd in command to the leader of the Liberal Party.

The Labor party generally has an aim to support equality at any expense: they support unions, equal pay, high tax including a staggered tax so that the rich are taxed much more than the poor, best possible health care and so forth.

The Liberal party generally has an aim to support the financial best for the nation at any expense: people get better wages, better living conditions and so forth, usually at the expense of the poor and at the expense of equality.

As a result, Australia is a mixture between trying to be as rich as possible and also trying to be as fair as possible. Depending on which party is in power depends on how fair or how rich the country is. The Labor party was in power from 1983-1995 and in that time Australia became very poor, heavily in debt, but also immensely fair in all things. From 1995-2007 the Liberal party was in power, during which time Australia became richer and more influential in world terms, but also less fair with a greater division between rich and poor. In late 2007 Kevin Rudd won power for the Labor party in the largest ever winning margin, and since that time he has been the most popular ever leader of Australia, to the point that he is widely regarded as "King Kevin".

Australia is also widely known for having unique animals, and also very deadly animals, both similar to Brazil. For example, 7 of the top 10 most poisonous snakes in the world, including all of the top 4, are native to Australia. They also have the most dangerous form of crocodile, shark, jellyfish and a number of deadly creatures that have not even been properly discovered, primarily in Far North Queensland. Some forms of jellyfish that are found in the tropical waters in Far North Queensland can kill in 8 seconds, and have never been properly identified. This is similar to the case with various deadly animals in Brazil.

Australia also has hostile land, the majority of which is uninhabitable, which accounts for why so many people live in urban areas. Most of the coastline cannot be landed on (at least not by the types of boats they had in the 18th century), and contains swamps, hostile reefs, in addition to various hostile creatures.

Australia is also at peace with most countries in the world, yet they are not neutral, as they are allied with USA, Great Britain and Japan, all to very heavy levels, in addition to New Zealand. It is the popular opinion in Australia that were Australia to be attacked, USA would not do a thing, although Great Britain might, depending on if they could. Many books have been written theorising this relationship, which suggests that China or Indonesia could annex Australia and not face war with anyone else.

Australia has large numbers of permanent US military personnel, ever since the 1st gulf war, when New Zealand briefly broke out of the ANZUS treaty and expelled their 4 US bases. Australia took them on as a sign of good faith, and is now more heavily protected than ever before, were there to be a war. Australia has an estimated 17 permanent US military bases, with approximately 50,000 US soldiers in Australia at any point in time. The largest of these bases is Pine Gap, 90 km from Alice Springs, which has an estimated 5,000 soldiers there.

Were Australia to be attacked, it would be very easy to defend, given enough people. The hostile terrain and hostile creatures make it naturally easy to defend and difficult to conquer. However, if a country with a large population, such as China or Indonesia, decided to take over, and a powerful country like USA did not help to defend, then Australia would be overrun quickly. Australia's relationship with Indonesia therefore is very tentative, as Indonesia very much wishes to use Australia's resources.

Australia's largest city is Sydney with 4 million people, while Melbourne has 3 million. The official capital city, however, is Canberra, which is roughly between Sydney and Melbourne, although Canberra is entirely encircled by New South Wales, the state which Sydney is in. People from Sydney and people from Melbourne generally do not like each other, and the rest of Australia generally takes sides. It is in many ways similar to the "North versus South" mentality of USA, although Australia has never had a civil war.

Dingos, platypi, kangaroos, and tasmanian devils live in Australia.