Australia or New Holland

Australia or New Holland


Australia was originally called New Holland.


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New Holland (Dutch: Nieuw Holland) is a historical European name for mainland Australia. The name was first applied to Australia in 1644 by the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman. The name came to be applied to the whole "Southern land" or Terra Australis, though the coastline of the continent had still not been fully explored; but after the British settlement in Sydney in 1788, the territory to the east of the continent claimed by Britain was named New South Wales, leaving the western part as New Holland. New Holland continued to be used semi-officially and in popular usage as the name for the whole continent until at least the mid-1850s.

The name New Holland was first applied to the western and north coast of Australia in 1644 by the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman, best known for his discovery of Tasmania (called by him Van Diemen's Land). The English Captain William Dampier used the name in his account of his two voyages there: the first arriving on 5 January 1688 and staying until March 12; his second voyage of exploration to the region was made in 1699. Except for giving its name to the land, neither the Netherlands nor the Dutch East India Company claimed any territory in Australia as its own. Although many Dutch expeditions visited the coast during the 200 years after the first Dutch visit in 1606, there was no lasting attempt at the establishment of a permanent settlement. Most of the explorers of this period concluded that the apparent lack of water and fertile soil made the region unsuitable for colonization.

After British colonization, the name New Holland was retained for several decades and the south polar continent continued to be called Terra Australis, sometimes shortened to Australia. However, in the nineteenth century, the colonial authorities gradually removed the Dutch name from the island continent and, instead of inventing a new name, they took the name Australia from the south polar continent, leaving a lacuna in continental nomenclature for eighty years. Even so, the name New Holland survived for many decades, used in atlases, literature, and in common parlance.


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