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Tasmania - Australia
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Tasmania is an Australian island and state of the same name. It is located 240 kilometres (150 mi) south of the eastern side of the continent, being separated from it by Bass Strait. The state of Tasmania includes the island of Tasmania and other surrounding islands. Tasmania has an estimated population of 494,520 (March 2008) and an area of 68,401 square kilometres (26,410 sq mi). Tasmania is promoted as the Natural State and the "Island of Inspiration" owing to its large and relatively unspoiled natural environment. Formally, almost 37% of Tasmania is in reserves, National Parks and World Heritage Sites. The island is 364 kilometres (226 mi) long from the northernmost point to the southernmost point 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. 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.

It is believed that the island was joined to the mainland until the end of the last glacial period approximately 10,000 years ago. Much of the island is composed of Jurassic dolerite intrusions (upwellings of magma) through other rock types, sometimes forming large columnar crystals. Tasmania has the world's largest areas of dolerite, with many distinctive mountains and cliffs formed from this rock type. The central plateau and the southeast portions of the island are mostly dolerite. Mount Wellington above Hobart is a good example, showing distinct columns known as the Organ Pipes. In the southwest, Precambrian quartzites are formed from very ancient sea sediments and form strikingly sharp ridges and ranges, such as Federation Peak or Frenchman's Cap. In the northeast and east, continental granites can be seen, such as at Freycinet, similar to coastal granites on mainland Australia. In the northwest and west, mineral rich volcanic rock can be seen at Mt. Read near Rosebery, or at Mt. Lyell near Queenstown. Also present in the south and northwest is limestone with some magnificent caves. The quartzite and dolerite areas in the higher mountains show evidence of glaciation, and much of Australia's glaciated landscape is found on the Central Plateau and the Southwest. Cradle Mountain, another dolerite peak, for example, was a Nunatak. The combination of these different rock types offers incredible scenery, much of it distinct from any other region of the world.

Tasmania was badly affected by the 1967 Tasmanian fires in which there was major loss of life and property. In the 1970s, the state government announced plans to flood environmentally significant Lake Pedder. The collapse of the Tasman Bridge when struck by the bulk ore carrier MV Lake Illawarra in 1975 made crossing the River Derwent at Hobart almost impossible. National and international attention surrounded the campaign against the Franklin Dam in the early 1980s. This contributed to the start of the Green movement. On 28 April 1996 in the incident now known as the Port Arthur massacre, lone gunman Martin Bryant shot and killed 35 people (including tourists and residents) and injured 37 others. The use of firearms was immediately reviewed, and new gun ownership laws were adopted nationwide, with Tasmania's law one of the strictest in the nation. In April 2006, a mine collapse was triggered by a small earthquake near Beaconsfield. One person was killed and two others were trapped underground for fourteen days.
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