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To the south of these and inland, lie more areas of grassland: the Ord Victoria Plain and the Western Australian Mulga shrublands.

At the heart of the country are the uplands of central Australia.

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, and by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.

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.

Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts.

The first settlement led to the foundation of Sydney, and the exploration and settlement of other regions.is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands.