Australia was originally a British prison colony.
Beginning in the late 1700s, the United Kingdom sent convicted criminals to this faraway territory.
Until that time, the British had been sending convicts to their American colonies, but the American Revolution put an end to that practice.
Over a period of 80 years, some 160,000 convicts were put on ships to Australia.
But once the word got out in the 1850s that Australia’s hills were rich with gold, thousands of British immigrants began to move there on their own.
The six original crown colonies became a federation and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed on 1 January 1901.
Australia’s capital city is Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory.