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Tasmania (abbreviated as Tas and known colloquially as “Tassie”; /tæzˈmeɪniə/) is an island state that is part of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is located 240 kilometres (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the main island of Tasmania, the 26th largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands The state has a population of 507,626 (as of June 2010), almost half of which resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city Hobart.

Tasmania’s area is 68,401 square kilometres (26,410 sq mi), of which the main island covers 64,519 square kilometres (24,911 sq mi). Tasmania is promoted as a natural state; almost 45% of Tasmania lies in reserves, national parks and World Heritage Sites and the state was the founding place of the first environmental party in the world. The 1825–1856 colony of Van Diemen’s Land (named after Anthony van Diemen by discoverer Abel Tasman) was founded by the British Empire, though the land had been inhabited by Tasmanian Aborigines for up to 40,000 years before. In 1856 it became a self-governing colony and renamed to Tasmania, and in 1901 it became part of the Federation of Australia.

The northernmost terrestrial point of the state of Tasmania is Boundary Islet, a nature reserve in Bass Strait which due to a mapping error is shared with the state of Victoria. The subantarctic Macquarie Island and its surrounding islands are also under the administration of Tasmania as a nature reserve and part of the Huon Valley Council local government area. The Bishop and Clerk Islets, about 37 km south of Macquarie Island, are the southernmost terrestrial point of the state of Tasmania, and the southernmost internationally recognised land in Australia.

The land is believed to have been occupied by Aboriginals for 40,000 years before English colonisation. It is thought Tasmanian Aboriginals were separated from mainland Aboriginal groups about 10,000 years ago when the sea rose to form Bass Strait. They engaged in firestick farming, hunted game including kangaroo and wallabies, caught seals, mutton-birds, shellfish and fish and lived as nine separate “nations” on the island, which they knew as “Trouwunna”.

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