South Australia is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the country, with a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres, it is the fourth-largest of Australias states and territories. Other population centres in the state are relatively small, the state comprises less than 8 percent of the Australian population and ranks fifth in population among the six states and two territories. The majority of its people reside in Adelaide, most of the remainder are settled in fertile areas along the south-eastern coast and River Murray. The states colonial origins are unique in Australia as a settled, planned British province. Official settlement began on 28 December 1836, when the colony was proclaimed at the Old Gum Tree by Governor John Hindmarsh, as with the rest of the continent, the region had been long occupied by Aboriginal peoples, who were organised into numerous tribes and languages. The first British settlement to be established was Kingscote, Kangaroo Island, on 26 July 1836, the guiding principle behind settlement was that of systematic colonisation, a theory espoused by Edward Gibbon Wakefield that was later employed by the New Zealand Company. The goal was to establish the province as a centre of civilisation for free immigrants, promising civil liberties, although its history is marked by economic hardship, South Australia has remained politically innovative and culturally vibrant. Today, it is known for its wine and numerous cultural festivals. The states economy is dominated by the agricultural, manufacturing and mining industries, the state has an increasingly significant finance sector as well. Evidence of human activity in South Australia dates back as far as 20,000 years, with flint mining activity, in addition wooden spears and tools were made in an area now covered in peat bog in the South East. Kangaroo Island was inhabited long before the island was cut off by rising sea levels, thijssen named his discovery Pieter Nuyts Land, after the highest ranking individual on board. The complete coastline of South Australia was first mapped by Matthew Flinders, the land which now forms the state of South Australia was claimed for Britain in 1788 as part of the colony of New South Wales. Although the new colony included almost two-thirds of the continent, early settlements were all on the eastern coast and it took more than forty years before any serious proposal to establish settlements in the south-western portion of New South Wales were put forward. In 1834, the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act 1834, the act stated that 802,511 square kilometres would be allotted to the colony and it would be convict-free. In contrast to the rest of Australia, terra nullius did not apply to the new province, although the patent guaranteed land rights under force of law for the indigenous inhabitants it was ignored by the South Australian Company authorities and squatters. Settlement of seven vessels and 636 people was made at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. The first immigrants arrived at Holdfast Bay in November 1836, the Colonisation Commissioners intended to establish a police service as soon as misconduct within the increasing population warranted it
European settlers with Aborigines, 1850
Nicolas Baudin, who mapped the coastline of South Australia, along with Matthew Flinders.
Satellite image of eastern South Australia. Note the dry lakes (white patches) in the north.