Finding Out About...
  Australia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates

History - Brief outline


We do not know when the first humans arrived in Australia. Archaeological evidence suggests that Aboriginal settlers arrived on the continent from Southeast Asia about 60,000 years ago, but future discoveries may lower that figure. Some Aboriginal people traditionally believed that they have always existed here.

We also do not know where Aboriginal settlers came from, but it was probably by ‘island-hopping’ from south-east Asia at a time when the sea levels were much lower.

The first Europeans began mapping parts of the west coast in the 17th century. No formal territorial claims were made until 1770, when Capt. James Cook took possession of the eastern part in the name of Great Britain.

Six colonies were created in the late 18th and 19th centuries; they federated and became the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.

The new country took advantage of its natural resources to rapidly develop its agricultural and manufacturing industries and to make a major contribution to the British effort in World Wars 1 and 2. Australia was a participant in the multinational force that freed Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion of 1990-91.

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Britain oversaw foreign relations and defence for the ruling Kuwaiti AL-SABAH dynasty from 1899 until independence in 1961. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led, UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91.

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Ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1800s, Qatar transformed itself from a poor British protectorate noted mainly for pearling into an independent state with significant oil and natural gas revenues. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Qatari economy was crippled by a continuous siphoning off of petroleum revenues by the Amir, who had ruled the country since 1972. His son, the current Amir HAMAD bin Khalifa Al Thani, overthrew him in a bloodless coup in 1995.

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United Arab Emirates

The Trucial States of the Persian Gulf coast granted the UK control of their defence and foreign affairs in 19th century treaties. In 1971, six of these states — Abu Zaby, 'Ajman, Al Fujayrah, Ash Shariqah, Dubayy, and Umm al Qaywayn — merged to form the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were joined in 1972 by Ra's al Khaymah.

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