Victoria (abbreviated as Vic) is a state in southeastern Australia. Victoria is Australia’s most densely-populated state and its second-most populous state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. Geographically the smallest state on the Australian mainland, Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south,[note 1] New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea to the east, and South Australia to the west.
Prior to British European settlement, Aboriginal peoples, collectively known as the Koori lived in the area now constituting Victoria. With Great Britain having claimed the entire Australian continent east of the 135th meridian east in 1788, Victoria formed part of the wider colony of New South Wales. The first European settlement in the area occurred in 1803 at Sullivan Bay, and much of what is now Victoria was included in 1836 in the Port Phillip District, an administrative division of New South Wales. Named in honour of Queen Victoria who signed the division’s separation from New South Wales, the colony was officially established in 1851 and achieved self-government in 1855. The Victorian gold rush in the 1850s and 1860s significantly increased both the population and wealth of the colony, and by the time of the Federation of Australia in 1901, Melbourne had become the largest city and leading financial centre in Australasia. Melbourne served as federal capital of Australia until the construction of Canberra in 1927, with the Federal Parliament meeting in Melbourne’s Parliament House and all principal offices of the federal government being based in Melbourne.