Victoria (abbreviated as Vic) is a state in the south-east of Australia. Victoria is Australia's most densely populated state and its second-most populous state overall. Most of its population is concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its capital and largest city, Melbourne, which is Australia's second-largest city. Geographically the smallest state on the Australian mainland, Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea to the east, and South Australia to the west.
Prior to European settlement, the area now constituting Victoria was inhabited by a large number of Aboriginal peoples, collectively known as the Koori. With Great Britain having claimed the entire Australian continenteast of the 135th meridian east in 1788, Victoria was included in the wider colony of New South Wales. The first settlement in the area occurred in 1803 at Sullivan Bay, and much of what is now Victoria was included in thePort Phillip District in 1836, an administrative division of New South Wales. Victoria was officially created a separate colony in 1851, and achievedself-government in 1855. The Victorian gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s significantly increased both the population and wealth of the colony, and by the Federation of Australia in 1901, Melbourne had become the largest city and leading financial centre in Australasia. Melbourne also served as capital of Australia until the construction of Canberra in 1927, with the Federal Parliament meeting in Melbourne's Parliament House and all principal offices of the federal government being based in Melbourne.
Politically, Victoria has 37 seats in the Australian House of Representatives and 12 seats in the Australian Senate. At state level, theParliament of Victoria consists of the Legislative Assembly (the lower house) and the Legislative Council (the upper house). Victoria is currently governed by the Labor Party, with Daniel Andrews the current Premier. The personal representative of the Queen of Australia in the state is theGovernor of Victoria, currently Alex Chernov. Local government is concentrated in 79 municipal districts, including 33 cities, although a number of unincorporated areas still exist, which are administered directly by the state.
The economy of Victoria is highly diversified: service sectors including financial and property services, health, education, wholesale, retail, hospitality and manufacturing constitute the majority of employment. Victoria's total gross state product (GSP) is ranked second in Australia, although Victoria is ranked fourth in terms of GSP per capita because of its limited mining activity. Culturally, Melbourne is home to a number of museums, art galleries and theatres and is also described as the "sporting capital of Australia". The Melbourne Cricket Ground is the largest stadium in Australia, and the host of the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The ground is also considered the "spiritual home" of Australian cricket and Australian rules football, and hosts thegrand final of the Australian Football League (AFL) each year, usually drawing crowds of over 95,000 people. Victoria includes eight public universities, with the oldest, the University of Melbourne, having been founded in 1853.
After the founding of the colony of New South Wales in 1788, Australia was divided into an eastern half named New South Wales and a western half named New Holland, under the administration of the colonial government in Sydney. The first European settlement in the area later known as Victoria was established in October 1803 under Lieutenant-Governor David Collins at Sullivan Bay on Port Phillip. It consisted of 402 people (5 Government officials, 9 officers of marines, 2 drummers, and 39 privates, 5 soldiers' wives, and a child, 307 convicts, 17 convicts' wives, and 7 children). They had been sent from England in HMS Calcutta under the command of Captain Daniel Woodriff, principally out of fear that the French, who had been exploring the area, might establish their own settlement and thereby challenge British rights to the continent.
In the year 1826 Colonel Stewart, Captain S. Wright, and Lieutenant Burchell were sent in H.M.S. Fly (Captain Wetherall) and the brigs Dragon and Amity, took a number of convicts and a small force composed of detachments of the 3rd and 93rd regiments. The expedition landed at Settlement Point (now Corinella), on the eastern side of the bay, which was the headquarters until the abandonment of Western Port at the instance of Governor Darling about twelve months afterwards.
Melbourne was founded in 1835 by John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner. From settlement the region around Melbourne was known as the Port Phillip District, a separately administered part of New South Wales.
Victoria's state school system dates back to 1872, when the colonial government legislated to make schooling both free and compulsory. The state's public secondary school system began in 1905. Before then, only private secondary schooling was available. Today, a Victorian school education consists of seven years of primary schooling (including one preparatory year) and six years of secondary schooling.
The final years of secondary school are optional for children aged over 17. Victorian children generally begin school at age five or six. On completing secondary school, students earn the Victorian Certificate of Education. Students who successfully complete their secondary education also receive a tertiary entrance ranking, or ATAR score, to determine university admittance.
Victorian schools are either publicly or privately funded. Public schools, also known as state or government schools, are funded and run directly by the Victoria Department of Education . Students do not pay tuition fees, but some extra costs are levied. Private fee-paying schools include parish schools run by the Roman Catholic Church and independent schools similar to British public schools. Independent schools are usually affiliated with Protestant churches. Victoria also has several private Jewish and Islamic primary and secondary schools. Private schools also receive some public funding. All schools must comply with government-set curriculum standards. In addition, Victoria has four government selective schools,Melbourne High School for boys, MacRobertson Girls' High School for girls, the coeducational schools John Monash Science School, Nossal High School and Suzanne Cory High School, and The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. Students at these schools are exclusively admitted on the basis of a selective entry test.
As of August 2010, Victoria had 1,548 public schools, 489 Catholic schools and 214 independent schools. Just under 540,800 students were enrolled in public schools, and just over 311,800 in private schools. Over 61 per cent of private students attend Catholic schools. More than 462,000 students were enrolled in primary schools and more than 390,000 in secondary schools. Retention rates for the final two years of secondary school were 77 per cent for public school students and 90 per cent for private school students. Victoria has about 63,519 full-time teachers.
Victoria has nine universities. The first to offer degrees, the University of Melbourne, enrolled its first student in 1855. The largest, Monash University, has an enrolment of nearly 56,000 students—more than any other Australian university.
The number of students enrolled in Victorian universities was 241,755 at 2004, an increase of 2% on the previous year. International students made up 30% of enrolments and account for the highest percentage of pre-paid university tuition fees. The largest number of enrolments were recorded in the fields of business, administration and economics, with nearly a third of all students, followed by arts, humanities, and social science, with 20% of enrolments.
Victoria has 18 government-run institutions of “technical and further education” (TAFE). The first vocational institution in the state was the Melbourne Mechanics' Institute (established in 1839), which is now the Melbourne Athenaeum. More than 1,000 adult education organisations are registered to provide recognised TAFE programs. In 2004, there were about 480,700 students enrolled in vocational education programs in the state.
The State Library of Victoria is the State's research and reference library. It is responsible for collecting and preserving Victoria's documentary heritage and making it available through a range of services and programs. Material in the collection includes books, newspapers, magazines, journals, manuscripts, maps, pictures, objects, sound and video recordings and databases.
In addition, local governments maintain local lending libraries, typically with multiple branches in their respective municipal areas.
Some major tourist destinations in Victoria are:
Other popular tourism activities are gliding, hang-gliding, hot air ballooning and scuba diving.
Major events also play a big part in tourism in Victoria, particularly cultural tourism and sports tourism. Most of these events are centred on Melbourne, but others occur in regional cities, such as the V8 Supercars and Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island, the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool and the Australian International Airshow at Geelong and numerous local festivals such as the popular Port Fairy Folk Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival, Bells Beach SurfClassic and the Bright Autumn Festival.