An Australian state in southeastern Australia.
State of se Australia
Area 801,600 sq km/309,418 sq mi
Towns and cities Newcastle, Wollongong, Broken Hill
Physical Great Dividing Range (including Blue Mountains) and part of the Australian Alps (including Snowy Mountains and Mount Kosciusko); Riverina district, irrigated by the Murray-Darling-Murrumbidgee river system; other main rivers Lachlan, Macquarie-Bogan, Hawkesbury, Hunter, Macleay, and Clarence
Features a radio telescope at Parkes; Siding Spring Mountain 859 m/2,817 ft, nw of Sydney, with telescopes that can observe the central sector of the Galaxy. Canberra forms an enclave within the state, and New South Wales administers the dependency of Lord Howe Island
Products cereals, fruit, sugar, tobacco, wool, meat, hides and skins, gold, silver, copper, tin, zinc, coal; hydroelectric power from the Snowy River
Population (1987) 5,570,000; 60% in Sydney
History called New Wales by English explorer Capt Cook, who landed at Botany Bay 1770 and thought that the coastline resembled that of Wales. It was a convict settlement 1788–1850; opened to free settlement by 1819; achieved self-government 1856; and became a state of the Commonwealth of Australia 1901. Since 1973 there has been decentralization to counteract the pull of Sydney, and the New England and Riverina districts have separatist movements. During the first weeks of Jan 1994, bush fires ravaged the state’s eastern coastline, burning 770,000 hectares/1.9 million acres and claiming four lives.