Tasmania (abbreviated as TAS) is an Australian island and state. It is 240 kilometres (150 mi) south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania, the 26th largest island in the world, and the surrounding islands.
The state has a population of 507,626 (as of June 2010), of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart precinct. Tasmania’s area is 68,401 square kilometres (26,410 sq mi), of which the main island covers 62,409 square kilometres (24,096 sq mi).
Tasmania is promoted as the natural state, the “island of inspiration”, and A World Apart, Not A World Away owing to its large and relatively unspoiled natural environment. Almost 37% of Tasmania lies in reserves, national parks and World Heritage Sites. The island is 364 kilometres (226 mi) long from its northernmost to its southernmost points, and 306 kilometres (190 mi) from west to east.
The state capital and largest city is Hobart which encompasses the local government areas of City of Hobart, City of Glenorchy, and City of Clarence, while the satellite town of Kingston (part of the Municipality of Kingborough) is generally included in the Greater Hobart area. Other major population centres include Launceston in the north and Devonport and Burnie in the northwest. The subantarctic Macquarie Island is also under the administration of the state, as part of the Huon Valley Council local government area.
The state is named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who made the first reported European sighting of the island on 24 November 1642. Tasman named the island “Anthony van Diemen’s Land” after his sponsor Anthony van Diemen, the Governor of the Dutch East Indies. The name was later shortened to Van Diemen’s Land by the British. It was officially renamed Tasmania in honour of its first European discoverer on 1 January 1856.
Tasmania was sometimes referred to as “Dervon”, as mentioned in The Jerilderie Letter written by the notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly in 1879. The colloquial expression for the state is “Tassie” (pronounced “Tazzie”). This name is often used in advertising campaigns, for example by the Bass Strait ferry, Spirit of Tasmania.
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