Van Diemen's Land

From Academic Kids

Van Diemen's Land was the original name used by Europeans for Tasmania, an island state of Australia. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to explore Tasmania, he named the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt in honor of Anthony van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies who had sent Tasman on his voyage of discovery in 1642.

In 1803, the island was colonized by the British as a penal colony and gave the new colony the name Van Diemen's Land.

Penal colony

From the 1830s to the abolition of transportation in 1853, Van Diemen's Land was the primary penal colony in Australia. Following the suspension of transportation to New South Wales, all convicts sent to Australia first served their sentences at the Tasman Peninsula prison known as Port Arthur or as assigned labour to free settlers in Van Diemen's Land. In total, some 75,000 convicts were transported to Van Diemen's Land, or about 40% of all convicts sent to Australia.

Convicts earning their pardon or ticket-of-leave often promptly left Van Diemen's Land to settle in the new free colony of Victoria to the disgust of the free settlers in towns such as Melbourne. Tensions sometimes ran high between the settlers and the "Vandemonians" as they were termed, particularly during the Victorian gold rush when a flood of settlers from Van Diemen's Land rushed to the Victorian gold fields. Complaints from Victorians about recently released convicts from Van Diemen's Land re-offending in Victoria eventually led to the abolition of transportation to Van Diemen's Land in 1853.

In order to remove the unsavoury connotations with crime associated with its name, in 1856 Van Diemen's Land was renamed Tasmania in honour of Abel Tasman. The last penal colony in Tasmania at Port Arthur finally closed in 1877.

Popular culture

"Van Diemen's Land" is the title of the second track from the rock band U2's album Rattle and Hum. The song was composed by The Edge / U2.


da:Van Diemen's Land

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