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Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 40,000 years before the first Europeans began exploration in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James COOK took possession of the east coast in the name of Great Britain (all of Australia was claimed as British territory in 1829 with the creation of the colony of Western Australia). Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars I and II. In recent decades, Australia has transformed itself into an internationally competitive, advanced market economy. It boasted one of the OECD's fastest growing economies during the 1990s, a performance due in large part to economic reforms adopted in the 1980s. Long-term concerns include ageing of the population, pressure on infrastructure, and environmental issues such as frequent droughts.


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Transportation

Airports World Ranking: 18
467 (2012)

Airports - with paved runways
Total 333
Over 3,047 m 11
2,438 to 3,047 m 13
1,524 to 2,437 m 146
914 to 1,523 m 149
Under 914 m 14 (2012)

Airports - with unpaved runways
Total 134
1,524 to 2,437 m 19
914 to 1,523 m 101
Under 914 m 14 (2012)

Heliports
1 (2012)

Pipelines
Gas 27,900 km; liquid petroleum gas 240 km; oil 3,257 km; oil/gas/water 1 km (2010)

Railways World Ranking: 7
Total 38,445 km
Broad gauge 3,355 km 1.600-m gauge
Standard gauge
21,674 km 1.435-m gauge (650 km electrified)
Narrow gauge
9,539 km 1.067-m gauge (2,067 km electrified); 3,877 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)

Roadways World Ranking: 9
Total 818,356 km (2004)

Waterways World Ranking: 43
2,000 km (mainly used for recreation on Murray and Murray-Darling river systems) (2011)

Merchant marine World Ranking: 75
Total 41
By type
Bulk carrier 8, cargo 7, liquefied gas 4, passenger 6, passenger/cargo 6, petroleum tanker 5, roll on/roll off 5
Foreign-owned
17 (Canada 5, Germany 2, Singapore 2, South Africa 1, UK 5, US 2)
Registered in other countries
25 (Bahamas 1, Dominica 1, Fiji 2, Liberia 1, Netherlands 1, Panama 4, Singapore 12, Tonga 1, UK 1, US 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals
Brisbane, Cairns, Dampier, Darwin, Fremantle, Gladstone, Geelong, Hay Point, Hobart, Jervis Bay, Melbourne, Newcastle, Port Adelaide, Port Dalrymple, Port Hedland, Port Kembla, Port Lincoln, Port Walcott, Sydney


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  Australia (Canberra):


  GPS points from Australia (Canberra)


E-jeelong Well Western Australia

Tambourine Creek Queensland

Rainbow Creek Queensland

Middle Rock Western Australia

Nullawarre Victoria

Rose Hill New South Wales

Ygnaterring Spring Western Australia




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