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Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy comprising six states and several territories.The population of 24 million Australia's military expenditure is the world's 13th-largest.With the second-highest human development index globally, Australia ranks highly in many international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and the protection of civil liberties and political rights.

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The earliest recorded use of the word Australia in English was in 1625 in "A note of Australia del Espíritu Santo, written by Sir Richard Hakluyt", published by Samuel Purchas in Hakluytus Posthumus, a corruption of the original Spanish name "Austrialia del Espíritu Santo" (Southern Land of the Holy Spirit) The first time that the name Australia appears to have been officially used was in a despatch to Lord Bathurst of 4 April 1817 in which Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledges the receipt of Matthew Flinders' charts of Australia.

At the time of European settlement in the late 18th century, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers, with a complex oral culture and spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime.

The Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, were originally horticulturists and hunter-gatherers.

The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland, and the first recorded European landfall on the Australian continent, are attributed to the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon.

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is a country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands.

It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area.

Neighbouring countries include 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.

For about 50,000 years After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788.

The population grew steadily in subsequent decades; the continent was explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies were established.

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