Australia the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area; the neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea and East Timor to the north. The population of 25 million is urbanised and concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, its largest city is Sydney; the country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, it is documented. After the European exploration of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, who named it New Holland, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day; the population grew in subsequent decades, by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Being the oldest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils, Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres. A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east and mountain ranges in the south-east. A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, its population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest in the world. Australia generates its income from various sources including mining-related exports, telecommunications and manufacturing. Indigenous Australian rock art is the oldest and richest in the world, dating as far back as 60,000 years and spread across hundreds of thousands of sites. Australia is a developed country, with the world's 14th-largest economy.
It has a high-income economy, with the world's tenth-highest per capita income. It is a regional power, has the world's 13th-highest military expenditure. Australia has the world's ninth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 26% of the population. Having the third-highest human development index and the eighth-highest ranked democracy globally, the country ranks in quality of life, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights, with all its major cities faring well in global comparative livability surveys. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism; the name Australia is derived from the Latin Terra Australis, a name used for a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name Terra Australis was applied to the new territories.
Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and subsequently anglicised. Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts; the name Australia was popularised by the explorer Matthew Flinders, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth". The first time that Australia appears to have been used was in April 1817, when Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from Lord Bathurst. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the Colonial Office. In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known by that name; the first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of The Australia Directory by the Hydrographic Office. Colloquial names for Australia include "Oz" and "the Land Down Under". Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", "the Wide Brown Land".
The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country". Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun around 65,000 to 70,000 years ago, with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia; these first inhabitants were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continual civilisations on earth. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest. Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime; the Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited s
Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Batavia called Betawi in the city's local Malay vernacular, was the capital of the Dutch East Indies. The area corresponds to present-day Jakarta. Batavia can refer to the city proper, as well as its suburbs and hinterland, the Ommelanden, which included the much larger area of the Residency of Batavia in today's Indonesian provinces of DKI Jakarta and West Java. In Betawi Malay, the area constituting the former Residency of Batavia is called Tanah Betawi; the establishment of Batavia at the site of the razed city of Jayakarta by the Dutch in 1619 led to the Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. Batavia became the center of the Dutch East India Company's trading network in Asia. Monopolies on local produce were augmented by non-indigenous cash crops. To safeguard their commercial interests, the company and the colonial administration progressively absorbed surrounding territory. Batavia lies on the north coast of Java, in a sheltered bay, over a flat land consisting of marshland and hills, crisscrossed with canals.
The city consisted of two centers: Oud Batavia, the oldest part of the city. Batavia was a colonial city for about 320 years until 1942 when the Dutch East Indies fell under Japanese occupation during World War II. During the Japanese occupation and again after Indonesian nationalists declared independence on August 17, 1945, the city was renamed Jakarta. After the war, the city remained internationally recognized under its Dutch name, until full Indonesian independence was achieved in 1949, whereafter the city was renamed Jakarta. Amsterdam merchants embarked on an expedition to the East Indies archipelago in 1595, under the command of Cornelis de Houtman; the expedition reached Bantam, capital of the Sultanate of Banten, Jayakarta in 1596 to trade in spices. The English East India Company's first voyage in 1602, commanded by Sir James Lancaster, arrived in Aceh and sailed on to Bantam. There he was allowed to build a trading post that served as the centre of English trade in Indonesia until 1682.
The Dutch government granted a monopoly on Asian trade with the Dutch East India Company in 1602. A year the first permanent Dutch trading post in Indonesia was established in Bantam, West Java. In 1610, Prince Jayawikarta granted permission to Dutch merchants to build a wooden godown and houses on the east bank of the Ciliwung River, opposite to Jayakarta; this outpost was established in 1611. As Dutch power increased, Jayawikarta allowed the English to erect houses on the west bank of the Ciliwung River, as well as a fort close to his customs office post, to keep the forces balanced. Tense relations between Prince Jayawikarta and the Dutch escalated in 1618, Jayawikarta's soldiers besieged the Dutch fortress, containing the godowns Nassau and Mauritius. An English fleet of 15 ships arrived under the leadership of Sir Thomas Dale, an English naval commander and former governor of the Colony of Virginia. After a sea battle, the newly appointed Dutch governor, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, escaped to the Moluccas to seek support.
The Dutch had taken over the first of the Portuguese forts there in 1605. Meanwhile, the commander of the Dutch garrison, Pieter van den Broecke, along with five other men, was arrested during negotiations, as Jayawikarta believed that he had been deceived by the Dutch. Jayawikarta and the English entered into an alliance; the Dutch army was on the verge of surrendering to the English when, in 1619, Banten sent a group of soldiers to summon Prince Jayawikarta. Jayawikarta's friendship agreement with the English was without prior approval from the Bantenese authorities; the conflict between Banten and Prince Jayawikarta, as well as the tense relationship between Banten and the English, presented a new opportunity for the Dutch. Coen returned from the Moluccas with reinforcements on 28 May 1619 and razed Jayakarta to the ground on 30 May 1619, thereby expelling its population. Only the Luso-Sundanese padrão remained. Prince Jayawikarta retreated to the eventual place of his death, in the interior of Banten.
The Dutch established a closer relationship with Banten and assumed control of the port, which over time became the Dutch centre of power in the region. The area that became Batavia came under Dutch control in 1619 as an expansion of the original Dutch fort along with new building on the ruined area, Jayakarta. On 2 July 1619, Coen decided to expand the original fort into a larger fortress. Coen sent the draft of the Kasteel van Batavia to the Netherlands on 7 October 1619; this new castle was much larger than the previous castle, with two northern bastions protecting the castle from attack from the sea. The Dutch fortress garrison included hired soldiers from Japan, Scotland and Belgium; the godowns Nassau and Mauritius were expanded with the erection of a new fort extension to the east on March 12, 1619, overseen by Commander Van Raay. Coen wished to name the new settlement "Nieuw-Hoorn" after his birthplace, but was prevented from doing so by the board of the East India Company, the Heeren XVII.
"Batavia" was chosen to become the new name for the settlement. The official naming ceremony took place on January 18, 1621, it was named after the Germanic tribe of the Batavi — the inhabitants of the Batavian region during the Roman period. Jayakarta was called "Batavia" for more than 300 years. Over time, there were three governmental administrations within the Batavia region; the initial authority was established in 1609. This became the colonial government, consisting of the Governor-General and the Council of the Indies; the urban or civil administration of th
Cape York Peninsula
Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula located in Far North Queensland, Australia. It is the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia; the land is flat and about half of the area is used for grazing cattle. The undisturbed eucalyptus-wooded savannahs, tropical rainforests and other types of habitat are now recognized and preserved for their global environmental significance, but native wildlife is threatened by introduced species and weeds. In 1606, Dutch sailor Willem Janszoon on board the Duyfken reached Australia as its first known European explorer, discovering the Cape York Peninsula. In February 1606, Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon landed near the site of what is now Weipa, on the western shore of Cape York – This was the first recorded landing of a European in Australia, it marked the first reported contact between European and Aboriginal Australian people. Edmund Kennedy was the first European explorer to attempt an overland expedition of Cape York Peninsula, he had been second-in-command to Thomas Livingstone Mitchell in 1846 when the Barcoo River was discovered.
The aim was to establish a route to the tip of the peninsula, where Sydney businessmen were attempting development of a port for trade with the East Indies. The expedition set out from Rockingham Bay near the present town of Cardwell in May 1848, it turned out to be one of the great disasters of Australian exploration. Of the thirteen men who set out, only three survived; the others were speared by hostile aborigines. Kennedy died of spear wounds within sight of his destination in December 1848; the only survivor to complete the journey was an aborigine from New South Wales. He led a rescue party to the other two, unable to continue; the peninsula was reached in 1864 when the brothers Francis Lascelles and Alexander William Jardine, along with eight companions, drove a mob of cattle from Rockhampton to the new settlement of Somerset where the Jardines’ father was commander. En route they lost most of their horses, many of their stores and fought pitched battles with Aborigines arriving in March 1865.
The west coast borders the Gulf of Carpentaria and the east coast borders the Coral Sea. The peninsula is bordered on three sides. There is no clear demarcation to the south, although the official boundary in the Cape York Peninsula Heritage Act 2007 of Queensland runs along at about 16°S latitude. At the peninsula’s widest point, it is 430 km from the Bloomfield River in the southeast, across to the west coast just south of the aboriginal community of Kowanyama, it is some 660 km from the southern border of Cook Shire, to the tip of Cape York. The largest islands in the strait include Prince of Wales Island, Horn Island and Badu Island. At the tip of the peninsula lies Cape York, the northernmost point on the Australian mainland, it was named by Lieutenant James Cook on 21 August 1770 in honour of Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany, a brother of King George III of the United Kingdom, who had died three years earlier: The point of the Main, which forms one side of the Passage before mentioned, and, the Northern Promontory of this Country, I have named York Cape, in honour of his late Royal Highness, the Duke of York.
The tropical landscapes are among the most stable in the world. Long undisturbed by tectonic activity, the peninsula is an eroded level low plain dominated by meandering rivers and vast floodplains, with some low hills rising to 800 m elevation in the McIlwraith Range on the eastern side around Coen; the backbone of Cape York Peninsula is the peninsula ridge, part of Australia’s Great Dividing Range. This mountain range is made up of ancient Palaeozoic rocks. To the east and west of the peninsula ridge lie the Carpentaria and Laura Basins, themselves made up of ancient Mesozoic sediments. There are several outstanding landforms on the peninsula: the large expanses of undisturbed dunefields at the eastern coast around Shelburne Bay and Cape Bedford-Cape Flattery; the soils are remarkably infertile compared to other areas of Australia, being entirely laterised and in most cases so old and weathered that little development is apparent today. It is because of this extraordinary soil poverty that the region is so thinly settled: the soils are so unworkable and unresponsive to fertilisers that attempts to grow commercial crops have failed.
The climate on Cape York Peninsula is tropical and monsoonal, with a heavy monsoon season from November to April, during which time the forest becomes uninhabitable, a dry season from May to October. The temperature is warm to hot, with a cooler climate in higher areas; the mean annual temperatures range from 18 °C at higher elevations to 27 °C on the lowlands in the drier southwest. Temperatures over 40 °C and below 5 °C are rare. Annual rainfall is high, ranging from over 2,000 millimetres in the Iron Range and north of Weipa to about 700 millimetres at the southern border. All this rain falls between November and April, only on the eastern slopes of the Iron Range is the median rainfall between June and September above 5 millimetres. Between January and March, the median monthly rainfall ranges from about 170 millimetres in the south to over 500 millimetres in the north and on the Iron Range; the Peninsula Ridge forms the drainage divide between the Gulf of Car
The Spanish Empire known as the Hispanic Monarchy and as the Catholic Monarchy, was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World and the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies", it included territories in Europe and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description given to the Portuguese Empire, it was the world's most powerful empire during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, reaching its maximum extension in the 18th century. The Spanish Empire was the first empire to be called "the empire on which the sun never sets". Castile became the dominant kingdom in Iberia because of its jurisdiction over the overseas empire in the Americas and the Philippines; the structure of empire was established under the Spanish Hapsburgs and under the Spanish Bourbon monarchs, the empire was brought under greater crown control and increased its revenues from the Indies.
The crown's authority in The Indies was enlarged by the papal grant of powers of patronage, giving it power in the religious sphere. An important element in the formation of Spain's empire was the dynastic union between Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, known as the Catholic Monarchs, which initiated political and social cohesion but not political unification. Iberian kingdoms retained their political identities, with particular administration and juridical configurations. Although the power of the Spanish sovereign as monarch varied from one territory to another, the monarch acted as such in a unitary manner over all the ruler's territories through a system of councils: the unity did not mean uniformity. In 1580, when Philip II of Spain succeeded to the throne of Portugal, he established the Council of Portugal, which oversaw Portugal and its empire and "preserv its own laws and monetary system, united only in sharing a common sovereign." The Iberian Union remained in place until in 1640, when Portugal overthrew Hapsburg rule and reestablished independence under the House of Braganza.
Under Philip II, rather than the Hapsburg empire, was identified as the most powerful nation in the world eclipsing France and England. Furthermore, despite attacks from other European states, Spain retained its position of dominance with apparent ease; the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis confirmed the inheritance of Philip II in Italy. Spain's claims to Naples and Sicily in southern Italy dated back to the Aragonese presence in the 15th century. Following the peace reached in 1559, there would be no Neapolitan revolts against Spanish rule until 1647; the Duchy of Milan formally remained part of the Holy Roman Empire but the title of Duke of Milan was given to the King of Spain. The death of the Ottoman emperor Suleiman the Magnificent in 1566 and the naval victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 gave Spain a claim to be the greatest power not just in Europe but in the world; the Spanish Empire in the Americas was formed after conquering large stretches of land, beginning with Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean Islands.
In the early 16th century, it conquered and incorporated the Aztec and Inca Empires, retaining indigenous elites loyal to the Spanish crown and converts to Christianity as intermediaries between their communities and royal government. After a short period of delegation of authority by the crown in the Americas, the crown asserted control over those territories and established the Council of the Indies to oversee rule there; some scholars consider the initial period of the Spanish conquest as marking the most egregious case of genocide in the history of mankind. The death toll may have reached some 70 million indigenous people in this period. However, other scholars believe the vast majority of indigenous deaths were due to the low immunological capacity of native populations to resist exogenous diseases. Many native tribes and their cultures were wiped out by the Spanish conquest and disease epidemics; the structure of governance of its overseas empire was reformed in the late 18th century by the Bourbon monarchs.
Although the crown attempted to keep its empire a closed economic system under Hapsburg rule, Spain was unable to supply the Indies with sufficient consumer goods to meet demand, so that foreign merchants from Genoa, England and The Netherlands dominated the trade, with silver from the mines of Peru and Mexico flowing to other parts of Europe. The merchant guild of Seville served as middlemen in the trade; the crown's trade monopoly was broken early in the seventeenth century, with the crown colluding with the merchant guild for fiscal reasons in circumventing the closed system. Spain was unable to defend the territories it claimed in the Americas, with the Dutch, the English, the French taking Caribbean islands, using them to engage in contraband trade with the Spanish populace in the Indies. In the seventeenth century, the diversion of silver revenue to pay for European consumer goods and the rising costs of defense of its empire meant that "tangible benefits of America to Spain were dwindling...at a moment when the costs of empire were climbing sharply."The Bourbon monarchy attempted to expand the possibilities for trade within the empire, by allowing commerce between all ports in the empire, took other measures to revive economic activity to the benefit of Spain.
The Bourbons had inherited "an empire invaded by
Western Province (Papua New Guinea)
Western Province is a coastal province in southwestern Papua New Guinea, bordering the Indonesian province of Papua. The provincial capital is Daru; the largest town in the province is Tabubil. Other major settlements are Kiunga, Ningerum and Balimo; the provincial government has, as with the governments of North Solomons and Northern provinces, sought to change the name of the province. The government uses the name Fly River Provincial Government. Western Province is the largest province in Papua New Guinea by area. There are several large rivers that run through the province, including the Fly River and its tributaries the Strickland and Ok Tedi rivers; the largest lake in Papua New Guinea, Lake Murray, is in Western Province. This province is the only part of Papua New Guinea to hold land west of the 141°E line, which divides it from Indonesian Western New Guinea; this is a small section of territory bordered by the Fly River. The Tonda Wildlife Management Area in the south-western corner of the province is a wetland of international importance.
It is the largest protected area in Papua New Guinea. There were 201,351 inhabitants in Western Province in the 2011 census, residing in 31,322 households. Of these, 79,349 people were recorded in Middle Fly District, 62,850 in North Fly District and 59,152 in South Fly District; the average household size across the province was 6.4. The major economic activity in the province is constituted by the Ok Tedi Mine established by BHP and the subject of considerable litigation by traditional landowners both in respect of environmental degradation and disputes over royalties, it is operated by Ok Tedi Mining Limited. There are three districts in the province; each district has one or more Local Level Government areas. For census purposes, the LLG areas are subdivided into those into census units; the province was governed by a decentralised provincial administration, headed by a Premier, from 1977 to 1995. Following reforms taking effect that year, the national government reassumed some powers, the role of Premier was replaced by a position of Governor, to be held by the winner of the province-wide seat in the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea.
The province and each district is represented by a Member of the National Parliament. There is one provincial electorate and each district is an open electorate. Hindenburg Range Hindenburg Wall Star Mountains Kiunga-Tabubil Highway
The Maluku Islands or the Moluccas are an archipelago in eastern Indonesia. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, north and east of Timor; the islands were known as the Spice Islands due to the nutmeg and cloves that were exclusively found there, the presence of which sparked colonial interest from Europe in the sixteenth century. The Maluku Islands formed a single province from Indonesian independence until 1999, when it was split into two provinces. A new province, North Maluku, incorporates the area between Morotai and Sula, with the arc of islands from Buru and Seram to Wetar remaining within the existing Maluku Province. North Maluku is predominantly Muslim, its capital is Sofifi on Halmahera island. Maluku province has a larger Christian population, its capital is Ambon. Though Melanesian, many island populations in the Banda Islands, were massacred in the seventeenth century during the spice wars.
A second influx of immigrants from Java began in the early twentieth century under the Dutch and continues in the Indonesian era. Between 1999 and 2002, conflict between Muslims and Christians killed thousands and displaced half a million people; the name Maluku is thought to have been derived from the term used by Arab traders for the region, Jazirat al-Moluk, from the word malik. However, since the name itself has been mentioned in a fourteenth-century Majapahit eulogy, that predates the arrival of Islam in Maluku at the late fifteenth century, other sources claim that the name comes from a local language with the meaning "the head of a bull" or "the head of something large"; the Maluku Islands were a single province from Indonesian independence until 1999 when they were split into North Maluku and Maluku. North Maluku province includes Ternate, Tidore and Halmahera. Arab merchants began bringing Islam. Peaceful conversion to Islam occurred in many islands in the centres of trade, while aboriginal animism persisted in the hinterlands and more isolated islands.
Archaeological evidence here relies on the occurrence of pigs' teeth, as evidence of pork eating or abstinence therefrom. The most significant lasting effects of the Portuguese presence was the disruption and reorganization of the Southeast Asian trade, in eastern Indonesia—including Maluku—the introduction of Christianity; the Portuguese had conquered the city-state of Malacca in the early sixteenth century and their influence was most felt in Maluku and other parts of eastern Indonesia. After the Portuguese annexed Malacca in August 1511, one Portuguese diary noted'it is thirty years since they became Moors'. Afonso de Albuquerque learned of the route to the Banda Islands and other'Spice Islands', sent an exploratory expedition of three vessels under the command of António de Abreu, Simão Afonso Bisigudo and Francisco Serrão. On the return trip, Francisco Serrão was shipwrecked at Hitu island in 1512. There he established ties with the local ruler, impressed with his martial skills; the rulers of the competing island states of Ternate and Tidore sought Portuguese assistance and the newcomers were welcomed in the area as buyers of supplies and spices during a lull in the regional trade due to the temporary disruption of Javanese and Malay sailings to the area following the 1511 conflict in Malacca.
The spice trade soon revived but the Portuguese would not be able to monopolize nor disrupt this trade. Allying himself with Ternate's ruler, Serrão constructed a fortress on that tiny island and served as the head of a mercenary band of Portuguese seamen under the service of one of the two local feuding sultans who controlled most of the spice trade. Both Serrão and Ferdinand Magellan, perished before they could meet one another; the Portuguese first landed in Ambon in 1513, but it only became the new centre for their activities in Maluku following the expulsion from Ternate. European power in the region was weak and Ternate became an expanding, fiercely Islamic and anti-European state under the rule of Sultan Baab Ullah and his son Sultan Said. Following Portuguese missionary work, there have been large Christian communities in eastern Indonesia through to contemporary times, which has contributed to a sense of shared interest with Europeans among the Ambonese; the Dutch competed with the Portuguese in the area for trade.
With the declaration of a single republic of Indonesia in 1950 to replace the federal state, a Republic of South Maluku was declared and attempted to secede. And led by Chris Soumokil and supported by the Moluccan members of the Netherlands special troops; this movement was defeated by the Indonesian army and by special agreement with the Netherlands the troops were transferred to the Netherlands. Maluku is one of the first provinces of Indonesia, proclaimed in 1945 until 1999, when the Maluku Utara and Halmahera Tengah Regencies were split off as a separate province of North Maluku, its capital used to be Ternate, on a small island to the west of the large island of Halmahera, but has been moved to Sofifi on Halmahera itself. The capital of the remaining part of Maluku province remains at Ambon. Religious conflict erupted across the islands in January 1999; the subsequent 18 months were characterized by fighting between local groups of Muslims and Christians, the destruction of thousands of houses, the displacement of approximately
Great Dividing Range
The Great Dividing Range, or the Eastern Highlands, is Australia's most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. It stretches more than 3,500 kilometres from Dauan Island off the northeastern tip of Queensland, running the entire length of the eastern coastline through New South Wales into Victoria and turning west, before fading into the central plain at the Grampians in western Victoria; the width of the range varies from about 160 km to over 300 km. The Greater Blue Mountains Area, Gondwana Rainforests, Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Areas are located in the range; the sharp rise between the coastal lowlands and the eastern uplands has affected Australia's climate due to orographic precipitation, these areas of highest relief have revealed an impressive gorge country. The Dividing Range does not consist of a single mountain range, it consists of a complex of mountain ranges, upland areas and escarpments with an ancient and complex geological history.
The physiographic division name for the landmass is called the East Australian Cordillera. In some places the terrain is flat, consisting of low hills; the highlands range from 300 to 1,600 metres in height. The mountains and plateaus, which consist of limestones, quartzite and dolomite, have been created by faulting and folding processes; the crest of the range is defined by the watershed or boundary between the drainage basins of rivers which drain directly eastward into the Pacific Ocean, or southward into Bass Strait, those rivers which drain into the Murray–Darling river system towards the west and south. In central Queensland, the rivers on the west side drain into Lake Eyre basin. In north Queensland, the rivers on the west side of the range drain towards the Gulf of Carpentaria; the higher and more rugged parts of the "range" do not form part of the crest of the range, but may be branches and offshoots from it. The term "Great Dividing Range" may refer to the watershed crest of the range, or to the entire upland complex including all of the hills and mountains between the east coast of Australia and the central plains and lowlands.
At some places it can be up to 400 km wide. Notable ranges and other features which form part of the range complex have their own distinctive names; the Great Dividing Range was formed during the Carboniferous period—over 300 million years ago—when Australia collided with what are now parts of South America and New Zealand. The range has experienced significant erosion since. For tens of thousands of years prior to British colonisation the ranges were home to various Aboriginal Australian nations and clans. Evidence remains in some places of their traditional way of life including decorated caves and trails used to travel between the coastal and inland regions. Many descendants of these nations still exist today and remain the traditional owners and custodians of their lands. After British colonisation in 1788, the ranges were an obstacle to exploration and settlement by the British settlers. Although not high, parts of the highlands were rugged. Crossing the Blue Mountains was challenging due to the mistaken idea that the creeks should be followed rather than the ridges, impenetrable, sandstone mountains.
Knowing that local Aboriginal people had established routes crossing the range and by making use of Aboriginal walking trails, a usable ridge-top route was discovered by Europeans directly westward from Sydney across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst by an expedition jointly led by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth. Towns in the Blue Mountains were named after each of these men; this was the start of the development of the agricultural districts of inland New South Wales. A road was built to Blaxland by convicts within six months. Easier routes to inland New South Wales were discovered towards Goulburn to the southwest, westwards from Newcastle. Subsequent explorations were made across and around the ranges by Allan Cunningham, John Oxley, Hamilton Hume, Paul Edmund Strzelecki, Ludwig Leichhardt and Thomas Mitchell; these explorers were concerned with finding and appropriating good agricultural land. By the late 1830s the most fertile rangelands adjacent to the mountain ranges had been explored, appropriated from the traditional inhabitants and some settled.
These included the Gippsland and Riverina regions in the south, up to the Liverpool Plains and the Darling Downs in the north. Various road and railway routes were subsequently established through many parts of the ranges, although many areas remain remote to this day. For example, in eastern Victoria there is only one major road crossing the highlands from north to south, the Great Alpine Road. Parts of the highlands consisting of flat and, by Australian standards, well-watered land were developed for agricultural and pastoral uses; such areas include the Atherton Tableland and Darling Downs in Queensland, the Northern Tablelands, Southern Highlands and Southern Tablelands in New South Wales. Other parts of the highlands have been used for forestry. Many parts of the highlands which were not developed are now included in National Parks. All of mainland Australia's alpine areas, including its highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, are part of this range, called the Main Range; the highest areas in southern New South Wales and eastern Victoria are known as the Australian Alps.
The central core of the Great Dividing Range is dotted with hundreds of peaks and is surrounded by many smaller mountain ranges or spurs, vall