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Having the third-highest human development index and the eighth-highest ranked democracy globally, the country ranks highly in quality of life, health, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights, Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum, and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism.
Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 (as Nieuw-Holland) and subsequently anglicised.
After World War II Australia encouraged immigration from mainland Europe.
Since the 1970s and following the abolition of the White Australia policy, immigration from Asia and elsewhere was also promoted.
Since the publication of the landmark critique The Lucky Country (1964) by Donald Horne and the election of the Whitlam Government in 1972, Australia is separated from Asia by the Arafura and Timor seas, with the Coral Sea lying off the Queensland coast, and the Tasman Sea lying between Australia and New Zealand.
The world's smallest continent is located in Western Australia.
The passing of the Australia Act 1986 ended all possibility for any vestigial role of the British government in the government in Australia and removed the already seldom-used option of judicial appeals to the Privy Council in London.
The population of 25 million Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney.
Colloquial names for Australia include "Oz" and "the Land Down Under" (usually shortened to just "Down Under").
Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", and "the Wide Brown Land".
is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands.
It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area.