Imperialism: Britain and Australia

The British arrived in Australia in 1688 and claimed it for Britain in 1770 calling it New South Wales. At the time of European discovery and settlements up to one million aboriginals lived on the island. The new outpost was put to use as a penal colony and on 26 January 1788, the First Fleet of 11 ships carrying 1,500 people, half of them convicts arrived in Sydney Harbor. Until penal transportation ended in 1868, 160,000 men and women came to Australia as convicts. While free settlers began to flow in from the early 1790s. The Aboriginal people displaced by the new settlement suffered even more. The dispossession of land and illness and death from introduced diseases disrupted traditional lifestyles and practices. By the 1820s, many soldiers, officers and emancipated convicts had turned land they received from the government into flourishing farms. News of Australia’s cheap land and bountiful work was bringing more and more boatloads of adventurous migrants from Britain. Settlers or ‘squatters’ began to move deeper into Aboriginal territories in search of pasture and water for their stock. The british remained in control of the island while the number of Aboriginals declined rapidly.

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