Is Australia a Country?

australia-country Credit: Paul Bica/CC-BY 2.0

Australia serves as both a country and the mainland for the Australian continent, which also includes the island of Tasmania and other smaller islands. It is the sixth-largest country in the world in terms of total area.

Australia was discovered by Dutch explorers in 1606. More than 160 years later, Great Britain claimed the eastern half of the mainland, eventually forming several crown colonies. These colonies federated in 1901 to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Since then, Australia has emerged as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, boasting the 12th largest economy. Australia is also a major political power, serving as a prominent member of the United Nations, the G20 and the Commonwealth of Nations.