13. Australasia and the Oceanic Territories

Populated by an extremely ancient aboriginal people, Australia was briefly visited by Chinese, Polynesian and European ships before the seventeenth century, when Dutch navigators charted much of its coastline to the north and west and also in the south east and named it New Holland. With the loss of the American colonies, where miscreants and vagabonds, etc, were sent as indentured servants, Britain was urgently seeking a solution to its problem of a large convict population imprisoned in the hulks of unseaworthy ships. The First Fleet established a convict colony in New South Wales, but free citizens were encouraged to emigrate and eventually the settlements flourished and expanded throughout the continent. They spread to New Zealand and trading connections and the strength of the Royal Navy brought many small islands in the Pacific under British protection in the nineteenth century.

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