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Australia's national identity, as with most nations, has been shaped by important events in its history.
The original human inhabitants, the Aborigines, arrived in the area 40,000-60,000 years ago. Their traditions of survival off the land in a harsh environment and their intimate knowledge of the plants and animals are reflected in contemporary use of phrases such as "going outback" or going on "walk about" to indicate going back to nature.
The first large numbers of European settlers were prisoners being sent to newly established penal colonies by the British court system. The impact of this history is still evident in Australian attitudes. Also important is the concept of "mate", finding its basis in the need for cooperation and being ready to help each other in order to survive the brutal surroundings of the desert.
Australia became an independent nation and member of the British Commonwealth in 1901. Only thirteen years later, World War I gave Australia its first opportunity to support the Motherland by sending Australian troops to fight alongside British soldiers. Australian troops fought valiantly and proudly and sacrificed many lives in battles at Gallipoli, in what is now Turkey. Anzac (Australia New Zealand Army Corp) Day, April 25, is Australia's Memorial Day. These battles allowed Australia to demonstrate its presence and develop its identity as a separate nation to the rest of the world and to itself.
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