Tasmania formerly VAN DIEMEN'S LAND, is a considerable island in the South Pacific Ocean, lying between 40° 40' and 43° 40' south :lat. and 144° 30' and 148v 30' east long., at the south of, and separated from Australia by Bass's Strait. Its greatest length from Cape Grim on the north-west to Cape Pillar on the south-east is 240 miles, and its greatest breadth from east to west 200 miles. Its area, including the adjacent islands, is about 26,000 square miles. Its capital is Hobart-Town, with a population of 25,044. In 186 Lic total population of Tasmania was 133,791.
I. History. — Tasmania was first discovered by Tasman, Dec. 1, 1642, and named by him Van Diemen's Land in honor of his patron, the then governor of the Dutch West Indies. In 1803 Lieut. Bowen was dispatched from Sydney with a few soldiers and convicts to form a settlement in the south of the island, which was finally fixed upon the spot where Hobart- Town now stauds. From 1817 commenced a rapid increase in the number of free settlers; and in 1825 Tasmania was declared independent of New South Wales. The transportation of convicts ceased in 1853, and on Jan. 4,1856, on petition of the Legislative Council to the home government, the name of the colony was officially changed to Tasmania. Of the 3000 aborigines found in the country the number rapidly decreased, until now not one remains.
II. Climate, Soil, etc. — The climate of Tasmania is fine and salubrious; the mean temperature of the hottest month (January) is 63° 57', of the coldest (July) 45° 82', and of the whole year 54° 92'. The agricultural lands may be divided into three classes-alluvial deposits, Tertiary clays, and loamy soils. In their virgin state some of the lands are marvelously productive; but in many cases, through improvident management, the soil has deteriorated.
III. Administration. — Since the passing of the Constitutional Act in 1854, the governing authority has been vested in a Parliament, consisting of the governor, as the queen's representative, and two elective Houses the Legislative Council of eighteen, and the Assembly of thirty-six members. The qualification of voters is, for the former, a freehold of the annual value of fifty pounds, and, for the latter, a freehold valued at one hundred pounds, or a ten pounds rental.
IV. Religion and Education. — By the Constitutional Act fifteen thousand pounds were annually reserved for the support of religion, divided among the various religious denominations, but this is now withdrawn. They were, in 1870: Church of England, 53,047; Roman Catholic, 22,091; Presbyterians, 9064; Wesleyans, 7187; Independents, 3931; Baptists, 931; Jews, 232. For the support of elementary education twelve thousand pounds a year is appropriated by Parliament, the disbursement of which is entrusted to a Central Board holding its sittings at Hobart-Town. The teachers are appointed by the board, and are under the supervision of the inspector of the schools. There were, in 1881, 204 public schools; 14,241 pupils. with an average attendance of 10,933; 105 male teachers, 108 female teachers, and 32 pupil teachers. There are eight superior schools- Horton College, High school, Hutchins's School, the Church Grammar- school, etc. The efforts of the Wesleyan missionaries in Tasmania have been directed mainly to the English population. The mission was begun in 1820 by the Rev. Mr. Horton, who was on his way to New. South Wales. The mission was approved by the governor of the colony, and another missionary was soon sent out, who was followed by two more in 1827, and by a fifth in 1832. The following is the report of the mission for 1876: Chapels and other preaching places, 95; missionaries and assistants, 16; local preachers, 70, full members, 1286; persons on trial, 202; Sunday- schools, 47; teachers, 401; scholars, 3076; attendants on worship, 9176.
The Primitive Methodist Mission reported in 1873: Principal stations, 4; ministers, 4; members, 223.
The United Methodist Free Churches had, in the same year, 3 lay agents and 38 members.