Queensland is an Australian state covering the continent’s northeast, with a coastline stretching nearly 7,000km. Its offshore Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, hosts thousands of marine species. The city of Cairns is a gateway to the reef and tropical Daintree Rainforest. The stylish capital, Brisbane, is flanked by the surfing-friendly beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.
Queensland (abbreviated as Qld) is the second-largest and third-most-populous state in Australia. Situated in the north-east of the country, it is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean. Queensland has a population of 4,750,500, concentrated along the coast and particularly in the state’s South East. The state is the world’s sixth largest sub-national entity, with an area of 1,852,642 km2. The capital and largest city in the state is Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city. Often referred to as the “Sunshine State”, Queensland is home to 10 of Australia’s 30 largest cities and is the nation’s third largest economy.
Queensland was first inhabited by Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. The first European to land in Queensland (and Australia) was Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon in 1606, who explored the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula near present-day Weipa. In 1770, Lieutenant James Cook claimed the east coast of Australia for the Kingdom of Great Britain. The colony of New South Wales was founded in 1788 by Governor Arthur Phillip at Sydney; New South Wales at that time included all of what is now Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. Queensland was explored in subsequent decades until the establishment of a penal colony at Brisbane in 1824 by John Oxley. Penal transportation ceased in 1839 and free settlement was allowed from 1842.
The state was named in honour of Queen Victoria, who on 6 June 1859 signed Letters Patent separating the colony from New South Wales. The date 6 June is now celebrated statewide as Queensland Day. Queen Victoria, who went on to become Britain’s second longest reigning monarch, chose an eponymous name for the colony over Cooksland, which had been suggested by the influential local Presbyterian minister John Dunmore Lang in honour of navigator James Cook. Queensland achieved statehood with the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901.