Australia means "the unknown south land.' The nation was founded as a British penal colony and originally served as a place to hold criminals, debtors, and undesirables from the British Isles. It became independent in 1900. The term "Aussie" was originally used to describe a happy-go-lucky person and to distinguish between indigenous peoples and immigrants from Europe. Since the 1980's, immigration has started to decrease, and it is now more difficult to become a citizen.
The Aborigines, the original inhabitants of Australia, have experienced violence and discrimination since the British colonization, and racism and distrust still exist between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Both the sixth largest country and the smallest continent in the world, Australia is the only continent without glaciers. It is also the world's driest continent, frequently suffering from deadly bush fires.