The Commonwealth of Australia

January 1, 1901 – The British colonies of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia federate as the Commonwealth of Australia; Edmund Barton is appointed the first Prime Minister.

For about 50,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians, who spoke languages classifiable into roughly 250 groups.  After the European discovery of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, Australia’s eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788. The population grew steadily in subsequent decades, and by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established. On January 1, 1901, the six colonies federated, forming the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy comprising six states and several territories. The population of 24 million is highly urbanized and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard.

Australia has the world’s 13th-largest economy and ninth-highest per capital income (IMF).  With the second-highest human development index globally, the country ranks highly in quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, and civil liberties and political rights.  (Wikipedia)

Australia’s post office issued a 3-pence commemorative stamp in 1951 on the occasion of the country’s 50th anniversary of the foundation of the commonwealth.  The stamp features a portrait of Edmund Barton:

edmund-barton-foundation-of-the-federation-of-australia-1951

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