Tasmania, often abbreviated Tas and known to locals as Tassie, is an island start of Australia about 150 miles to the south of the Australian continent, separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait. Tasmania is frequently promoted as a natural state as it has a reasonably unspoiled environment. 45% of the state is World Heritage Sites, national parks and reserves.
Tasmania has an estimated population of 512,000, up from 512,000 in 2012 and 507,600 in 2010. This makes Tasmania the 6th most populous state in Australia, but it's the 4th most densely populated with a density of 7 people per square kilometer, or 19 per square mile. Almost 50% of the population is living in the greater Hobart area.
Tasmania is the 7th largest state in Australia with a total area of 90,758 square kilometers (35,042 square miles).
The largest city and capital of Tasmania is Hobart, which includes the City of Hobart, the City of Glenorchy and the City of Clarence along with the satellite town of Kingston in the Greater Hobart area. The Greater Hobart area has a population of 218,000 in 2014, which makes it the 11th largest city in Australia.
Launceston is a city in northern Tasmania where the South Esk and North Esk rivers become the Tamar River. It's the second-largest city in the state with a population estimated at 110,000, which makes it the 9th largest non-capital city in the country and the 17th largest city in Australia. Launceston is also one of the oldest cities in Australia, and it was founded in 1806 and named after Launceston in the United Kingdom.
Devonport (pop. 26,00) is located in northwestern Tasmania and serves as a major regional center for the area, along with Burnie, a slightly smaller city on the northwest coast of Tasmania with a population of 19,500.
Ulverstone is Tasmania's largest town with a population of about 8,000. Located on the northwest coast of Tasmania, Ulverstone is a popular area for retirees.
Tasmania has a very homogeneous population compared to most of Australia. There is very little immigration into Tasmania, and a population of at most 10,000 founding families who arrived in the mid-19th century are the ancestors of around 65% of Tasmanians.
In 1996, more than 80% of Tasmanians were born in Tasmania, and nearly 90% were born in Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand or Ireland. Most residents are of British descent, with 47% of non-native Tasmanians born in the UK. Due to its homogeneous population, Tasmania is often used to study population genetics.
Before 2012, Tasmania was the only state of Australia with a fertility rate above the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman, with Tasmanian women having, on average, 2.24 children each. By 2012, the birth rate had fallen to 2.1 children per woman, although it is still the second-highest birth rate of any territory or state of Australia.
Tasmania was initially connected to the mainland of Australia before the end of the last glacial period approximately 10,000 years ago. It was first inhabited by the Tasmanian Aborigines, who occupied the area at least 35,000 years ago before rising sea levels cut the island off from the mainland. At the time of European contact, the Aboriginals had nine major ethnic groups with a population estimated between 5,000 and 10,000 in 1803, when the first British settlement was founded. Infectious disease, intermarriage, persecution, and war caused the population to fall to just 300 by 1833, with most of the indigenous people being relocated to Flinders Island. The last recognized full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigine was a woman named Truganini (1812 to 1876), although it's believed another woman, Fanny Cochrane Smith, survived longer.
Tasmania was discovered by a Dutch explorer named Abel Tasman in 1642. The first Englishman to land on the island was Tobias Furneaux in 1773, while a French expedition landed in 1772. Tasmania was proved to be an island in 1798.
The first settlement took place at Risdon Cove by the British in 1803, with the founding of the Town of Hobarton (later Hobart) taking place the following year. Early settlers were primarily convicts and guards. The Colony of Tasmania remained a British colony from 1856 through 1901 when it combined with other Australian colonies to create the Commonwealth of Australia.