The smallest of the
six states of Australia, Tasmania comprises a group of islands lying 250
km due south of Victoria on the south eastern corner of the continent of
Australia. The main island measures approximately 296 km from north
to south and 315 km from west to east. Described as the most mountainous
island on the planet, it has few peaks that exceed 1,500 m. There are
many rivers and lakes.
The climate is mild, with temperature seldom
exceeding 30°C on midsummer days. However, due to its mountainous and
small landmass and with the Southern Ocean between it and the
Antarctica, the weather is known to be very changeable, even by the
hour. It also has relatively high rainfall, that varies from region to
region. The most consistently sunny and warm weather is anywhere between
February and March, although Autumn is quite a calm season during April
to May. August is the traditional snow month, with ski-fields in the
northeast and south-centre.
Source: Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade,
International Public Affairs Branch 1994
The Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon
Tasman was the first European to explore Tasmania. He named the island ‘Anthoonij
van Diemenslandt’ in honour of Anthony van Diemen, the then Governor-General of
the Dutch East Indies, who had sent Abel Tasman on his voyage of discover in 1642.
The British settled in 1803 andshortened it to ‘Van Diemen’s Land’.
In 1825 ‘Van Diemen’s Land’, which had been part of the colony of New South
Wales, became a colony in its own right. In 1856 it was renamed Tasmania in
honour of Able Tasman.