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Tasmania


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(formerly Van Diemen's Land) a member state of the federal Commonwealth of Australia, has a population (2007) of 478,000. Hobart (population 206,000), established 1803, is the largest city and state capital. Discovered by Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in 1642 and named Van Diemen's Land it became infamous, following British occupation in 1803, for its ill‐treatment of convicts (especially at Hell's Gate and Port Arthur) and the extermination of its Aboriginal population. Its name was changed to Tasmania in 1856 to help rid the island of its evil reputation.

The island's agricultural settlements and typically small farms are concentrated in its northern and south‐eastern lowland areas leaving the mainly rugged, mountainous, and high‐rainfall forested western two‐thirds largely uninhabited. Tasmania's natural beauty has encouraged a strong environmental movement.


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