The country of Australia is one of the countries situated in the southern hemisphere. The official name of the country is the Commonwealth of Australia. It has the status of having the mainland of the continent which ranks last among all the other continents of the world with respect to size. It also includes the important island of Tasmania. There are other small islands which comprise the country of Australia as well, and these are situated in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. The other countries which surround Australia are Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Indonesia which are to the north of Australia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands which are due north east of the country, the New Zealand which is located due south east of Australia. There is only one country which also has the status of being a continent, and that is Australia.
Indigenous Australians have inhabited the mainland of the country for more than forty two thousand years. The British claimed the eastern part of the country in the year 1770, after the Dutch explorers discovered the country in the year 1606.
There are six states which form a part of Australia, and they are Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Besides the six states there are two territories which are major mainland, and they are the Australian Capital Territory, or the ACT, and the Northern Territory. The functioning of the territories is similar to the functioning of the states. But even though this is the case, in certain situations the legislation of the territories parliaments can be overridden by the Commonwealth Parliament.
The area covered by the country is more than seven million six hundred and seventeen thousand square kilometers. The Timor and the Arafura seas separate Asia from Australia. The length of the coastline of the country is more than thirty four thousand kilometers.