Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Tasmania, called after its discoverer, Tasman (1648), who gave it the name Van Dieman's Land, after the Governor of Java, is an island lying to the S. of Victoria in Australia, being separated from it by the Bass Strait. Including the islands in the Bass Strait, Tasmania contains 24,600 square miles. The N. and N.W. are hilly and mountainous, as are parts of the S. and E., and in the centre are groups of hills, covered with scrub and forest, and having lakes at an altitude of 4,000 feet. The lighest points in the island are Ben Lomond (5,020) in the E.; Frenchman's Cap (4,706) W.; Cradle (5,069) W.; Wellington (4,170) E. The chief rivers flowing N. are the Tamar, Inglis, Carn, Don; from the E. the Macquarie flows into the South Esk, and the two Esks unite at Launceston to form the Tamar; to the W. are the Hellyer Arthur and Pieman; and in the centre and S. are the Derwent, Clyde, Ouse, etc. The Great Lake is 50 miles in circumference, and other lakes are Sorell, St. Clair, Crescent, and Echo. The island is divided into 18 counties, and the principal towns are Hobart, in the S., on the Derwent, and Launceston, in the N., on the Tamar. The climate on the whole resembles that of England, but is more sunny, and the E. districts are very dry, and the W. regions wet, though the whole is healthy. The lake districts have a climate very like that of the Scottish Highlands. The dense forest and tangled scrub that occupy much of the surface made Tasmania in times past a favorite haunt of bushrangers. Strong winds prevail on the S. and W. coasts, The island is geologically connected with Victoria, and among the minerals are tin and coal in abundance, gold, lead, copper, antimony, zinc, silver, manganese, plumbago, and asbestos. Freestone is exported, and tin, and Tasmania produces enough coal for its own consumption, and also an inflammable resin called tasmanite. The animals resemble generally those of Australia, with the exception of the dingo, and the addition of the Tasmanian devil and tiger. The forests produce tree-ferns, wattle, fragrant evergreens, and other trees found in South Australia, and the blue gum is largely employed in ship-building. Formerly there was much whaling and sealing, but this has fallen off, and there are excellent trout and other fish. Agriculture, the breeding of merino-sheep, and the growing of hops and fruit are carried on. Much fruit is now exported to England. Other exports are wool and metals. There are good roads and railways, and among the industries are tanning, sawing, brewing, and jam-making. Tasmania was settled from Sydney, and became a separate colony in 1825. The aborigines of Tasmania were nearly exterminated by the white settlers during the "Black War" of 1805-35. The few survivors were removed to the Flinders Archipelago, where they rapidly died out, and "Lalla Rookh," last of the race, died at Hobart in 1876. The Tasmanians, who at the arrival of the Europeans (1803) numbered not more than 5,000 altogether, showed both Australian and Melanesian affinities, aud were probably a mixture of the two races with some marked peculiarities due to long seclusion in their isolated environment. The hair was crisp and even woolly, thc colour very dark, the frame larger and more powerful than that of the average Australian, while the language, of which some specimens have been preserved, contained several words of New Caledonian (Melanesian) origin, though the structure was rather Australian. The natives were scattered in small tribal or family groups, chiefiy round the coast, and stood at an extremely low stage of culture. (J. Bonwick, The Last of the Tasmanians, 2nd edition, 1884.)