New South Wales

views updated May 23 2018

New South Wales, a member state of the federal Commonwealth of Australia, was founded 26 January 1788 as a penal colony when Britain annexed over two-thirds of the Australian continent. NSW was later separated into Tasmania (1825, settled 1803), South Australia (1834, settled 1836), Victoria (1851, settled 1834), Northern Territory (1863, incorporated as a federal territory in 1910, yet to achieve full statehood), Queensland (1859, settled 1824), and the Australian Capital Territory (1911). With an area of 310,372 square miles and 6,115,100 inhabitants (1995), of whom 3,736,000 reside in its state capital, Sydney, NSW is the most populous state. For a long time dominated by its convict past, NSW eventually became a thriving self-governing colony, utilizing its savannah grasslands to establish one of the world's largest wool-producing industries, and its coal, mineral, and forest resources to found manufacturing industries; and, with the advent of inland railways (1870–1900), extensive wheat-farming.

With its convict heritage, large unionized industrial population, and somewhat left-of-centre political attitudes, as well as its leading role in the export of wheat and wool, and Sydney's position as Australia's major stock exchange and growing importance as a company headquarters city, NSW is politically and economically Australia's most powerful state. Sydney's pre-eminence has been achieved against strong competition from Melbourne (1995 population 3,197,800), which long regarded itself as the more important financial and company centre. Sydney, with its famous bridge, ocean beaches (Bondi and Manly), and even more famous opera-house, provides Australia with its most readily identified international images.

Martyn Webb

New South Wales

views updated May 11 2018

New South Wales State in se Australia, on the Tasman Sea; the capital is Sydney. Captain James Cook first visited the area in 1770, landing at Botany Bay. He claimed the e coast of Australia for Britain, naming it New South Wales. The colony developed in the 19th century with the growth of the wool industry. It originally included all the known area of the continent. New South Wales achieved responsible government in 1855, becoming a state of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The Great Dividing Range separates the narrow coastal lowlands from the w plains that occupy two-thirds of the state. The Murray River and its tributaries are used extensively for irrigation. Wheat, wool, dairy produce and beef are the principal agricultural products. The state has valuable mineral deposits. New South Wales is the most populous and most industrialized state in Australia. Steel is the chief product. Area: 801,430sq km (309,180sq mi). Pop. (2002) 6,599,500.;

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New South Wales

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