68 401 kmē
22 357 kmē
90 758 kmē
|Time zone||UTC+10 (except during daylight saving time—UTC+11)|
|Highest point||Mt Ossa (1 617 m)|
|ISO 3166-2 code:||AU-TS|
|Table of contents|
5 Indigenous animals
6 Geography of Tasmania
7 Events in Tasmania
8 Miscellaneous topics
It is believed that the island was joined to the mainland until the end of the most recent Ice Age approximately 10,000 years ago. The first reported sighting of Tasmania by a European was in 1642 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who named the island Van Diemens Land. Captain James Cook also sighted the island in 1777. A British settlement was established at Risdon Cove in 1803, which was relocated 5km to the south in 1804 to Sullivan's Cove, where fresh water was more plentiful. Both settlements were known as Hobart Town. Shortly afterwards a harsh penal colony was established at Port Arthur.
Tasmania once possessed an indigenous population, the Tasmanian Aborigines, and evidence indicates their presence in the territory, later to become an island, at least 35,000 years ago. At the time of British settlement the indigenous population has been estimated at 5000, but through persecution and disease the population was eliminated (some mixed-blood descendants still survive). The impact of introduced diseases, prior to the first European estimates of the size Tasmania's population, means that the original indigenous population could have been noticeably larger than 5000. The last full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigine was Truganini who died in 1872.
Tasmania is accessible by air, via the airports near each major city, and also via the Bass Strait passenger/vehicle ferries operated by the Tasmanian Government owned TT-Line. From 1986 the Abel Tasman made six weekly overnight crossings between Devonport and Melbourne. It was replaced by the Spirit of Tasmania in 1993, which performed the same route and schedule. The most recent change was the 2002 replacement of the Spirit by two Superfast ferries - Spirit of Tasmania I and II - which brought the number of overnight crossings up to fourteen, plus additional daylight crossings in peak times. In January 2004 a third ship, the slightly smaller Spirit of Tasmania III, will start the Devonport to Sydney route.
Tasmania's relatively low population density and temperate, maritime climate means that it is rich in unspoilt, ecologically valuable regions. Proposals for local economic development have therefore been faced with strong requirements for environmental sensitivity, or outright opposition. In particular proposals for hydroelectric power generation proved controversial in the early 1970s and 1980s. Opposition to the construction of the Lake Pedder Dam led to the formation of the world's first green party, the United Tasmania Party. In the 1980s the state was again plunged into often bitter debate over the proposed Franklin River Dam. The anti-dam sentiment was shared by many Australians outside Tasmania, and proved a factor in the election of the Hawke Labor government in 1983 which halted construction of the dam.
Port Arthur Massacre.
For a small population base Tasmania has produced a number of significant sports people: David Boon, Ricky Ponting - Test cricket; Darryl Baldock, Peter Hudson, Paul Hudson, Brendan Gale - Australian Rules Football; Laurie Nash - cricket and football.
Until 1932 the island was home to the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine), that has become extinct because of the introduction of the dingo in mainland Australia much earlier. Due to persecution by farmers, government-funded bounty hunters and, in the final years, collectors for overseas museums it was wiped out also on Tasmania.
The Tasmanian Devil is a carnivorous marsupial found exclusively on the island of Tasmania. The size of a small dog but stocky and muscular, the Tasmanian Devil is characterised by its black fur, offensive odour when stressed, extremely loud and disturbing screeching, and its vicious temperament. It also was the threatened with extinction because of human actions, but it has survived and nowadays they are widespread throughout Tasmania and fairly common. 'The Tasmanian Devil' is also a Warner Bros cartoon character loosely modeled after the animal.