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Australia is the world’s only continent that is also just one country. It is called the “Land Down Under”, appropriately as it is located really down there in the southern hemisphere. Its neighbor, New Zealand, in stark contrast, is much smaller, yet both it and Australia have a shared history.

Australia did not have much of a pleasant beginning, though. The first settlers to the country were actually criminals all the way from Britain. Around 162,000 convicts were brought by ship from Britain to Australia from 1788 to 1868. The first states of Australia, such as New South Wales and Queensland, were founded as penal colonies just to house the convicts. Other states were established as free colonies, though, such as Victoria and South Australia. Freed convicts would transfer to those states and start new lives.

But some of them thought that Australia wasn’t the place for them, so they decided to leave the country for good. Seeing New Zealand as an almost next-door neighbor, they set sail and went into the land to begin anew.

Because of these, Australians and Kiwis (the popular name for white New Zealanders) are known for a heritage of being descendants of convicts. At first, the people did not receive this idea very well. It instilled a sense of national shame; after all, who would be proud of having a criminal as a great great grandfather?

Later on, though, people became more accepting of their heritage. It has now come to a point where Australians and even Kiwis take pride in their national heritage. It is now even considered a “badge of honor” for them to find out that they descended from the lineages of convicts.

Despite this quirk of their history, Australia and New Zealand are now home to peaceful, friendly, and thriving civilizations. Their cities, in fact, belong to the world’s happiest and most peaceful places to live.

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