The island's population, as per the most recent census in 2016 was 1585 people. This is a slight increase from the previous census in 2011, which was 1566. The King Island Council is considered the local government of the area, which conducts most of the surveys regarding the demographics and the culture of the population.
King Island is located in the Bass Strait, making it part of the state of Tasmania, which is situated under the government of Australia. King Island is considered to be part of the New Year Group, which is a chain of three islands in the surrounding area. King Island is the largest of these three islands, and it is also the second largest island located in the Bass Strait, which is preceded by Flinders Island. King Island forms a land divide between the Bass Strait and the Great Australian Bight - segmented at the north-western top of Tasmania and about half to Victoria, the mainland state. Stokes is considered to be the southernmost point, with Cape Wickham heading off the top point on the island.
Three small islands are found immediately offshore, aptly named Christmas Island and New Year Island. These were officially given these namesakes as they were discovered on each holiday during the initial voyage of the captains who had sighted the islands. King Island was first visited by European explorers in the late 1700s. Named after Philip Gidley King, this Colonial Governor had been named the ruler of New South Wales, which made up the current Tasmanian state as part of what is now Australia. Many sealers in the area set up settlements in the early 19th century, which were considered the first workers and inhabitants on the island, but it was not until the late 19th century that more permanent villages were established.
The largest permanent settlement is Currie, which is found on the west coast of King Island. Of course, the economy of the island is centered around agriculture and some fishing, as it is considerably small and does not have many unique natural resources to undergo heavy industrial or technological participation. Some of the economies are kept afloat by tourism, as the slow lifestyle and wonderful climate are great attractions for visitors domestically and abroad.
Captain Reed is the first documented and known European traveler to have set his sights on King Island while hunting seals with his small schooner. The rudimentary map was drawn out as best as he could and sent back to England before Captain Flinders had left (who had discovered the larger Flinder's Island in the Bass Strait). The initial map was published in 1800 but did not show King Island, which was eventually rectified in 1801 after Flinders was informed of its existence.
At the center of the western entrance into the Bass Strait, the island has 60 known shipwrecks, with many more thought to be undiscovered.