a continent SE of Asia, between the Indian and the Pacific oceans. 2,948,366 sq. mi. (7,636,270 sq. km).
Commonwealth of, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, consisting of the federated states and territories of Australia and Tasmania. 2,974,581 sq. mi. (7,704,165 sq. km).
Capital: Canberra.
Contemporary Examples

Princes William and Harry have just recorded an interview with Australia’s Channel 9.
William and Harry Off To Oz Tom Sykes August 2, 2012

Shah fled to Australia for a time while the situation cooled off.
Pakistan’s Musharraf Has Been Accused of Knowing Osama bin Laden’s Hideout Bruce Riedel February 13, 2012

Charles and Camilla’s Tour of Australia is turning into one big animal photo-op.
Photo-Special! Charles and the Leaping Sheep Tom Sykes November 7, 2012

Kate may chop her hair in advance of Australia visit next month.
GASP! Kate Middleton To Change Her Hairstyle? Tom Sykes February 27, 2014

Orner speaks with the salty twang of her native Melbourne, Australia.
Documenting Afghanistan’s Transformation Lloyd Grove September 26, 2013

Historical Examples

He had gone to Sydney, and that was the last seen of Boyd in Australia.
My Life in Many States and in Foreign Lands George Francis Train

I have an agent in every principal port in Australia on the lookout for the Caribbee.
Freaks of Fortune Oliver Optic

Then, with little warning, Croft was assigned on a mission to Australia by his church.
Palos of the Dog Star Pack J. U. Giesy

But, when the moon is up, the nights in Australia are as brilliant as the days.
A Boy’s Voyage Round the World The Son of Samuel Smiles

Her employers deferred their return to Australia, so that she might be married from their house.
Little Novels Wilkie Collins

a country and the smallest continent, situated between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific: a former British colony, now an independent member of the Commonwealth, constitutional links with Britain formally abolished in 1986; consists chiefly of a low plateau, mostly arid in the west, with the basin of the Murray River and the Great Dividing Range in the east and the Great Barrier Reef off the NE coast. Official language: English. Religion: Christian majority. Currency: dollar. Capital: Canberra. Pop: 23 029 674 (2013 est). Area: 7 682 300 sq km (2 966 150 sq miles)

from Latin Terra Australis (16c.), from australis “southern” + -ia. A hypothetical southern continent, known as terra australis incognita, had been proposed since 2c. Dutch explorers called the newfound continent New Holland; the current name was suggested 1814 by Matthew Flinders as an improvement over Terra Australis “as being more agreeable to the ear, and an assimilation to the name of the other great portions of the earth” [“Voyage to Terra Australis”]. In 1817 Gov. Lachlan Macquarie, having read Flinders’ suggestion, began using it in official correspondence. The ultimate source is Latin auster “south wind,” hence, “the south country.”

The Latin sense shift in australis, if it is indeed the same word other Indo-European languages use for east (see aurora), for which Latin uses oriens (see orient), perhaps is based on a false assumption about the orientation of the Italian peninsula, “with shift through ‘southeast’ explained by the diagonal position of the axis of Italy” [Buck]; cf. Walde, Alois, “Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch,” 3rd. ed., vol. 1, p.87; Ernout, Alfred, and Meillet, Alfred, “Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine,” 2nd. ed., p.94. Or perhaps the connection is more ancient, and from PIE root *aus- “to shine,” source of aurora, which also produces words for “burning,” with reference to the “hot” south wind that blows into Italy. Thus auster “(hot) south wind,” metaphorically extended to “south.”

Nation occupying the whole of Australia, the smallest continent, between the Indian Ocean and the southwest Pacific Ocean. Its capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney.

Note: The first settlements there were penal colonies for British convicts.

Note: Its aboriginal tribes, which still exist today (see aborigines), are thought to have migrated from Southeast Asia twenty thousand years ago.


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