Wikipedia:Today's featured article/August 16, 2005

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The Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the world's smallest continent and a number of islands, the largest of which is Tasmania. Australia has been inhabited for about 50,000 years by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Eastern Australia was claimed by the British in 1770, and officially settled as a British penal colony on 26 January, 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, six largely self-governing Crown Colonies were established within Australia over the course of the 19th century. On 1 January 1901 the six colonies federated and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since federation, Australia has had a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth Realm. Australia currently has a population of about 20 million, concentrated mainly in the coastal cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

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