South Australia (abbreviated as SA) is a state in the southern central part of Australia. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent. With a total land area of 983,482 square kilometres (379,725 sq mi), it is the fourth largest of Australia's states and territories.
South Australia shares borders with all of the other mainland states, and with the Northern Territory; it is bordered to the west by Western Australia, to the north by the Northern Territory, to the north-east by Queensland, to the east by New South Wales, to the south-east by Victoria, and to the south by the Great Australian Bight and the Indian Ocean. With over 1.6 million people, the state comprises less than 8% of the Australian population and ranks fifth in population among the six states and two territories. The majority of its people reside in the state capital, Adelaide. Most of the remainder are settled in fertile areas along the south-eastern coast and River Murray. The state's colonial origins are unique in Australia as a freely settled, planned British province, rather than as a convictsettlement. Official settlement began on 28 December 1836, when the colony was proclaimed at the Old Gum Tree by Governor John Hindmarsh.
As with the rest of the continent, the region had been long occupied by the indigenous Aboriginal peoples, who were organised into numerous tribes and languages. The first British settlement to be established wasKingscote, Kangaroo Island, on 26 July 1836, five months before Adelaide was founded. The guiding principle behind settlement was that ofsystematic colonisation, a theory espoused by Edward Gibbon Wakefieldthat was later employed by the New Zealand Company. The goal was to establish the province as a centre of civilisation for free immigrants, promising civil liberties and religious tolerance. Although its history is marked by economic hardship, South Australia has remained politically innovative and culturally vibrant. Today, it is known for its fine wine and numerous cultural festivals. The state's economy centres on the agricultural, manufacturing and mining industries and has an increasingly significant finance sector as well.
Evidence of human activity in South Australia dates back as far as 20,000 years, with flint mining activity and rock art in theKoonalda Cave on the Nullarbor Plain. In addition wooden spears and tools were made in an area now covered in peat bogin the South East. Kangaroo Island was inhabited long before the island was cut off by rising sea levels.
The first recorded European sighting of the South Australian coast was in 1627 when the Dutch ship the Gulden Zeepaert, captained byFrançois Thijssen, examined the coastline. Thijssen named his discovery "Pieter Nuyts Land", after the highest ranking individual on board.
The coastline of South Australia was first mapped by Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin in 1802.
The land which now forms the state of South Australia was claimed for Britain in 1788 as part of the colony of New South Wales. Although the new colony included almost two-thirds of the continent, early settlements were all on the eastern coast and only a few intrepid explorers ventured this far west. It took more than forty years before any serious proposal to establish settlements in the south-western portion of New South Wales were put forward. In 1834, the British Parliament passed the South Australia Act 1834 (Foundation Act), which enabled the province of South Australia to be established. The act stated that 802,511 square kilometres (309,851 sq mi) would be allotted to the colony and it would be convict-free. In contrast to the rest of Australia, terra nullius did not apply to the new province. The Letters of Patent attached to the Act acknowledged Aboriginal ownership and stated that no actions could be undertaken that wouldaffect the rights of any Aboriginal natives of the said province to the actual occupation and enjoyment in their own persons or in the persons of their descendants of any land therein now actually occupied or enjoyed by such natives. Although the patent guaranteed land rights under force of law for the indigenous inhabitants it was ignored by the South Australian Company authorities and squatters.
Settlement of seven vessels and 636 people was temporarily made at Kingscote on Kangaroo Island, until the official site of the colony was selected where Adelaide is currently located. The first immigrants arrived at Holdfast Bay (near the present day Glenelg) in November 1836, and the colony was proclaimed on 28 December 1836, now known as Proclamation Day. South Australia is the only Australian state to be settled entirely by free settlers.
The plan for the colony was that it would be the ideal embodiment of the best qualities of British society, that is, no religious discrimination or unemployment and, as it was believed that this would also result in very little crime, no provision was made for a gaol. In early 1838 the colonists became concerned after it was reported that convicts who had escaped from the eastern states may make their way to South Australia. The South Australia Police was formed later that year to protect the community and enforce government regulations and the first gaol, a two-room hut, was opened on 1 January 1839.
The current flag of South Australia was adopted on 13 January 1904, and is a British blue ensign defaced with the state badge. The badge is described as a piping shrike with wings outstretched on a yellow disc. The state badge is believed to have been designed by Robert Craig of Adelaide's School of Design.
South Australia granted restricted women's suffrage in 1861, and in 1895 became the second place in the world to grant universal suffrage (after New Zealand), and the first where women had the dual rights to vote and to stand for election.
On 1 January 2009, the school leaving age was raised to 17 (having previously been 15 and then 16). Education is compulsory for all children until age 17, unless they are working or undergoing other training. The majority of students stay on to complete their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). School education is the responsibility of the South Australian government, but the public and private education systems are funded jointly by it and theCommonwealth Government.
The South Australian Government provides, to schools on a per student basis, 89 percent of the total Government funding while the Commonwealth contributes 11 percent. Since the early 1970s it has been an ongoing controversy that 68 percent of Commonwealth funding (increasing to 75% by 2008) goes to private schools that are attended by 32% of the states students. Private schools often refute this by saying that they receive less State Government funding than public schools and in 2004 the main private school funding came from the Australian government, not the state government.
On 14 June 2013, South Australia became the third Australian state to sign up to the Australian Federal Government'sGonski Reform Program. This will see funding for primary and secondary education to South Australia increased by $1.1 billion before 2019.