Tasmania is a large island located in the southern part of the Australian continent. This island lost along the southeastern coast of Australia – from which is separated by the waters of the Bass Strait, an arm of the ocean 240 km wide – form the smallest federal state of Australia (68,401 sq km).
Tasmania was discovered in 1642 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who named the island Van Diemen’s Land in honor of the then governor of the Dutch East Indies Anton Van Diemen. The name Tasmania replaced the original only in the nineteenth century. In 1830 – along the southeast coast of the island, in Port Arthur in the Tasman Peninsula – the British established a penal colony laying the foundations for the subsequent colonization of Tasmania.
Tasmania is a land lashed by storms and storm surges, characterized by a purely oceanic climate with frequent and constant rains. Rain and sun alternate several times in the same day making the climate of Tasmania very similar to the English climate.
To the last ice age – 10,000 years ago – a strip of land connected the Tasmania to the Australian mainland. But with warming after the Ice Age the strip of land was submerged by the ocean isolating Tasmania and its inhabitants. Because of the isolation in Tasmania thrive a multitude of animal and plant of unique species in the world as the famous Tasmanian Devil or Pandani palms – the largest monocotyledons in the world – which grow only in Tasmania.
The island has mountains covered with eucalyptus forests. In the center of the island is a plateau of volcanic origin – full of small lakes – culminating with the Mount Ossa (1,617 meters), which is the highest peak on the island. The landscape of much of the island was heavily shaped by glaciers.
The west coast is high and rocky, often bordered by high cliffs. The most important city – Hobart – is located at the end of the Derwent river valley at the bottom of a wide bay – Storm Bay – located along the southeast coast. At the center of the northern coast – the one turned towards Australia – is the important port of Devonport, while about 100 km south-east of Devonport – along the valley of the River Tamar – is the other major cities of Launceston.
Nearly half of the territory of Tasmania is protected by parks and nature reserves which help to preserve the spectacular beauty of this wild and isolated southern land.
- Area: 68.401 km².
- Population: 514.000 (2014).
- Capital: Hobart.
- Official languages: Official language is English.
- Religion: Christianity.
- Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
- Time zone: UTC +10 (Summer: UTC +11).