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Tasmania

Tasmania
State flag (Full size) Coat of Arms (Full size)
Capital Hobart
Area
— Land
— Marine
— Total

68 401 kmē
22 357 kmē
90 758 kmē
Population (2002)
Density
473 400
6.92/kmē
Time zone UTC+10 (except during daylight saving time—UTC+11)
Highest point Mt Ossa (1 617 m)
ISO 3166-2 code: AU-TS
The island of Tasmania, an Australian state, is located 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the eastern portion of the continent, being separated from it by the Bass Strait. Tasmania has a population of 456,652 (census 2001) and an area of 68,332 square kilometers (26,383 square miles).

The capital and largest city is Hobart, and other major population centres include Launceston[?], Devonport and Burnie[?].

It is believed that the island was joined to the mainland until the end of the most recent Ice Age approximately 10,000 years ago. The first reported sighting of Tasmania by a European was in 1642 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who named the island Van Diemens Land. Captain James Cook also sighted the island in 1777. A British settlement was established at Hobart Cove in 1803, and shortly afterwards a harsh penal colony was established at Port Arthur, Tasmania[?].

Tasmania once possessed an indigenous population, the Tasmanian Aborigines, and evidence indicates their presence in the territory, later to become an island, at least 35,000 years ago. At the time of British settlement the indigenous population has been estimated at 5000, but through persecution and disease the population was eliminated (some mixed-blood descendants still survive). The impact of introduced diseases, prior to the first European estimates of the size Tasmania's population, means that the original indigenous population could have been noticeably larger than 5000. The last full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigine was Truganini[?] who died in 1872.

Tasmania's main industries are mining, including copper, zinc, tin and iron, agriculture, forestry, and tourism. There has been a significant decline in manufacturing in recent years, leading to a substantial drain of the island's young adult population to mainland Australia, especially to major urban centers such as Melbourne and Sydney.

Tasmania's relatively low population density and temperate, maritime climate means that it is rich in unspoilt, ecologically valuable regions. Proposals for local economic development have therefore been faced with strong requirements for environmental sensitivity, or outright opposition. In particular proposals for hydroelectric power generation proved controversial in the early 1970s and 1980s. Opposition to the construction of the Lake Pedder Dam[?] led to the formation of the world's first green party, the United Tasmania Party[?]. In the 1980s the state was again plunged into often bitter debate over the proposed Franklin River[?] Dam. The anti-dam sentiment was shared by many Australians outside Tasmania, and proved a factor in the election of the Hawke Labor government in 1983 which halted construction of the dam.

Although seldom in the world news, global attention turned to Tasmania on April 29, 1996 when lone gunman Martin Bryant opened fire, killing 35 tourists and residents and injuring 37 others in an incident now known as the Port Arthur Massacre.

Local Government Areas of Tasmania



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