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Australia

Australian flag
Image from John Mahoney

An island continent between the Indian and Pacific Oceans on Old Earth. It is the smallest on Old Earth, with an area of 8,560,000 square kilometres, and it was not well suited to long term agricultural uses, so it did not contain any major civilizations or polities until the Industrial Age. It did become a prosperous continent/nation, and was a force in the Interplanetary Age as part of the alliance called Greater Australia.

Australia was originally part of Gondwana, and contains some of the oldest and least geologically active portions of that ancient supercontinent. By the Holocene, when humans were predominant on the planet it was mostly flat, with soils lacking in some important minerals. It was also arid, due to its latitude, though it was lush and green during the preceding epochs. Australia was populated by a distinct marsupial fauna.

Human habitation of Australia dates back to about 40,000 BT, but for most of human history the continent was a relative backwater due to its isolation, uncertain climate, and impoverished soils, and its inhabitants employed Palaeolithic technologies. The indigenous population suffered greatly at the hands of the European colonists who arrived during the Industrial Age; their cultures were almost entirely destroyed, and their descendants became a small fraction of the continent's total population. When it left colonial status the continent became a single nation during the late Industrial Age and early Information Age, allied with Britain, America, and eventually Asia, and by the early Interplanetary period (early to mid 2nd century) it was a local superpower. By the late 2nd century the originally largely European population had been greatly modified by Asian immigration, mostly from Indonesia, Malaysia, and China. Greater Australia (incorporating Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and some of Antarctica) developed a reasonable interplanetary policy, but, as with the other Earth Governments, was unable to hold on to its colonies for long, although ethnic Australians, with their distinctive Eurasian features and charmingly annoying "ockerisms", remained an important element of off-world culture.

During the Interplanetary and Nanotech ages, the capital of Australia, Canberra, was an important University City, and was known as "the Geneva of the South". Thanks to blue goo defences it survived the nanoswarms intact, but the vast majority of the population was finally forced into exodus, along with most of the rest of humanity, by GAIA during the Great Expulsion. The city has since been largely dismantled, although the central arcology is used as a hotel by tourists and pilgrims. The rest of Australia has been returned to its pre-European condition. Apart from the staff at Canberra who deal with the off-worlders, the sapient population would seem to consist solely of a small number of genomically-restored aboriginal caretakers, mostly biochip enhanced and rianthed with indigenous fauna, and a number of marsupial and reptilian provolves (chiefly Roos and neo-Goannas).

 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 03 November 2001.

 
 
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