The AUSTRALIAN Portal
The Commonwealth of Australia is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the world's smallest continent and a number of islands in the Southern, Indian and Pacific Oceans. Australia's neighbouring countries are Indonesia, East Timor and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia to the north-east, and New Zealand to the south-east.
The continent of Australia has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. After sporadic visits by European explorers and merchants from the 17th century onwards, the eastern half of the continent was claimed by the British in 1770, and officially settled as the penal colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown colonies were successively established over the course of the 19th century.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth realm. The current population of around 24 million is concentrated mainly in the coastal cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
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Powderfinger is an alternative rock band based in Australia. The band formed in Brisbane, Australia, in 1989, and their lineup since 1992 has consisted of vocalist Bernard Fanning, guitarists Darren Middleton and Ian Haug, bassist John Collins, and drummer Jon Coghill.
Powderfinger became a commercial success with their third studio album Internationalist in 1998. Since then, they have released several hit singles and award-winning works, including a total of fifteen ARIA Awards. Numerous Powderfinger albums have reached platinum status multiple times, and rankings in the top 100 of Australian music charts. Odyssey Number Five, Powderfinger's most successful to date, earned over eight platinum certifications and ARIA Awards in five different categories. The announcement of a two month-long nationwide tour with Silverchair entitled the Across the Great Divide tour followed the release of their sixth studio album, Dream Days at the Hotel Existence in June 2007.
Across their 15-year career, Powderfinger has been active in practicing philanthropic acts. In 2005, Powderfinger performed at a WaveAid concert in Sydney, to help raise funds for areas affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. In October 2007, performed at a concert in the Sydney Opera House for breast cancer victims and their families. The aim of their recent tour was to promote the efforts of Reconciliation Australia, and to promote awareness of the 17-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.
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For a topic outline on this subject, see Outline of Australia.