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Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the world's smallest continent and a number of islands in the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia's neighbouring countries are Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.
The continent of Australia has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. After sporadic visits by European explorers and merchants from the 17th century onwards, the eastern half of the continent was claimed by the British in 1770, and officially settled as the penal colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown colonies were successively established 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 maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth realm. The current population of around 24 million is concentrated mainly in the coastal cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
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(3 September 1899 – 31 August 1985), usually known as Frank Macfarlane Burnet Macfarlane or Mac Burnet, was an Australian virologist best known for his contributions to immunology. Burnet received his M.D. from the University of Melbourne in 1924, and his PhD from the University of London in 1928. He went on to conduct pioneering research on bacteriophages and viruses at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and served as director of the Institute from 1944 to 1956. His virology research resulted in significant discoveries concerning their nature and replication and their interaction with the immune system. Burnet was co-recipient of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for demonstrating acquired immune tolerance, research which later provided the platform for developing methods of transplanting organs. For his contributions to Australian science, he was made the first Australian of the Year in 1960, and in 1978 a Knight of the Order of Australia. He was recognised internationally for his achievements: in addition to the Nobel, he received the Lasker Award and the Royal and Copley Medals from the Royal Society, honorary doctorates, and distinguished service honours from the Commonwealth and Japan.
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For a topic outline on this subject, see Outline of Australia.