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Potted History

Aboriginal Australians boast the longest continual cultural history in the world, with origins dating from the last Ice Age.Then the white man came.

Aborigines were slaughtered and their lands stolen. As recently as 1970 policemen were used to find and steal Aborigine children away from their parents, they were "re-educated" and put to work on sheep farms.

Amongst other atrocities, Aborigine women were forcibly given hysterectomies as the white man unashamedly attempted to wipe out all traces of Aboriginal culture, religion, education and language.

In 1997, the President of the Human Rights Commission, Sir Ronald Wilson, announced: "What was done over the last 400 years meets the international definition of genocide."

Politics: Australia is divided into eight states, each with its own laws, controlled by the Federal Government in Canberra

Just so you know:

Pop: 18.3 million

Size: 7,682,300 sq km

Language: English; 240 other languages include Italian, Greek, Cantonese, Arabic and Vietnamese

Currency: Australian dollar; currently worth about 40p or 60 US cents

Religion: About 60% nominally Christian

Jabs: None

Visa Requirements: Everyone needs one, unless you're from New Zealand. Three-month visa is free, six months costs $35.

Working holiday visa ($145) for young people allows 12 months in Oz.

Working holidaymakers can work for any number of companies for a maximum of three months.

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