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Australia
By Ekaterina Zhdanova-Redman
  

1     An amazing island some call the "land down under," Australia was the last continent to be discovered and explored by the Europeans. That is why it is often called "The Last of Lands."
 
2     The first recorded sighting of Australia by Europeans was in 1606, when the Dutch ship Duyfken commanded by Willem Janz saw the West coast of Cape York, which is the northernmost point of the Australian continent.
 
3     Prior to the Europeans, though, Australia had a rich history full of natural wonders and cultural beauty. Australia's original inhabitants, known as Australian Aborigines, have the longest continuous cultural history in the world with origins dating back to at least 40,000 years ago. The first visitors, called "Robust" by archaeologists because of their heavy-boned physique, were followed 20,000 years later by the more slender "Gracile" people, the ancestors of Australian Aborigines.
 
4     Australia also has an abundance of rock art, some of which are the oldest known engravings in the world, pre-dating the cave etchings of Europe. The Aborigines were great hunters. Using dingoes (native dogs that arrived in Australia some 3,500 years ago) and hunting tools such as the spear, woomera, and boomerang, the Aborigines hunted slow moving, large marsupials nearly to extinction.

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