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History

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Australia > Australian Capital Territory

History

For thousands of years, the indigenous Ngunnawal people lived in the Australian Capital Territory area, with the earliest evidence of Aboriginal occupation dating back 21,000 years. The first European to arrive in the room was Charles Throsby in 1821, and around three years later, the early permanent settlers arrived. By the 1830s, most of the region was inhabited by Europeans. The Aboriginal
population reduced significantly over the rest of the century, mainly due to diseases and predations. After the Federation of Australia in 1 901, a suitable capital was sought.

It was determined that the capital would be in the Yass-Canberra region, and a competition for the new city’s design was held. American architect, Walter Burley Griffin’s creation of a garden city with an ornamental lake, won first prize, and the foundation stone was laid in 1913. Building works moved slow and were interrupted by World War l, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and World War II. In an attempt to speed things along, the National Capital Development Commission was established in 1958 and controlled the capital’s planning, development, and construction. The population in the region increased over the next 20 years, and although self-governance was opposed by the majority of the Australian Capital Territory residents, it was granted in 1988.

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