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Who discovered Tasmania and when?
The Tasmanian Aborigines had well-established communities over the length of Tasmania thousands of years before the island was discovered by Europeans. Most of the oldest known settlements are in the northern half of the state.
In 1642, a Dutch explorer named Abel Tasman was the first European to sight Tasmania. He initially named the island Van Diemen's Landafter his employer, but parliament changed the name to Tasmania in 1856.
The French were the next Europeans to visit Tasmania, in 1772, followed by the English one year later.
Can you give a broad outline of?
Some of the important dates in Tasmania's history:
• 1642. Sighted by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman. The island is named Van Diemens Land.
• 1772-1793. Various French and Britishexplorers visit Van Diemens Land, some going so far as to plant gardens.
• 1802. Spurred by rumour of impending French settlement, the British governor sends a token landing party from Sydney to Port Dalrymple.
• 1803. The first permanent European occupation, with the British settling at Sullivan's Cove.
• 1822. Britain begins transporting convicts to Van Diemens Land.
• 1825. The Van DiemensLand Company establishes the first notable settlement on the north-west coast at Circular Head.
• 1825. Van Diemens Land becomes a semi-autonomous colony, instead of being administered from Sydney.
• 1852. Gold discovered in the eastern part of the island.
• 1853. Transportation of convicts to Van Diemens Land ceases.
• 1856. Van Diemens Land is renamed to the present-day Tasmania and givenpermission to form an elected government.
• 1871. Huge tin ore deposits discovered on the west coast; subseqent discoveries lead to rapid exploration in that region.
• 1877. Port Arthur closes.
• 1901. Australian federation - Tasmania becomes a state in the new Commonwealth of Australia.
• 1912. Roald Amundsen telegraphs from Hobart the news that he successfully reached the south pole.• 1914-1918. World War I.
• 1939-1945. World War II.


Tasmania is an island group in the southern hemisphere. It is located approximately 240 km (150 mi) south of the mainland of Australia. The Australian map below shows the physical proximity of Tasmania [red] to the Australian mainland [green].
Is Tasmania a part of Australia?
Tasmania is a state in the commonwealth ofAustralia. Tasmanians are citizens of Australia, travel on Australian passports and vote in federal elections. In this regard, Tasmania is as much a part of Australia as any other state.
Physically, Tasmania is unique in that it is separated from the Australian mainland by Bass Strait. Because of the physical status, Tasmania is often known as Australia's ``island state''. Americans may wish to compareTasmania's situation with that of, say, Hawaii.

What are the major cities?
Hobart, located on the western bank of the Derwent River in south-eastern Tasmania, is the state's capital and largest city. The city of Hobart, plus neighbouring cities Glenorchy and Clarence, form what is known as `Greater Hobart'. This region had a population of 189,944 according to the 1996 census.
Launceston,located on the banks of the Tamar River in northern Tasmania, is the second-largest city in the state. Greater Launceston has a population of 95,982.
The state's two other cities, Burnie and Devonport, are both located on the north-west coast of Tasmania. Burnie has a population of 17,202 and Devonport a population of 23,814.
The population of Tasmania according to the 1996 census was 459,659.At present, the population growth rate of Tasmania has slowed to a virtual stop, with a net decrease in population being seen in some periods. A reason for this is the high unemployment rate, which has exceeded 10% in recent years.
The population decline compares to a steady growth rate of about 0.8% per year in the early 1980's.
Approximately 23% of the population is under age 15.