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A camp was set up and the flag raised at Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, on 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day, Australia Day, although the British Crown Colony of New South Wales was not formally promulgated until 7 February 1788.
The first settlement led to the foundation of Sydney, and the exploration and settlement of other regions.
The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east.
Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest urban area is Sydney.
Australia has the world's 13th-largest economy and tenth-highest per capita income (IMF).
Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and the Pacific Islands Forum.
The population of 25 million Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 (as Nieuw-Holland) and subsequently anglicised.
These include the western plains of New South Wales, and the Einasleigh Uplands, Barkly Tableland, and Mulga Lands of inland Queensland.
The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country".
Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime.
The Federal Capital Territory (later renamed the Australian Capital Territory) was formed in 1911 as the location for the future federal capital of Canberra.
Melbourne was the temporary seat of government from 1901 to 1927 while Canberra was being constructed.