Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km to the south of the Australian mainland, separated from it by the Bass Strait. The archipelago contains the southernmost point of the Australian federation. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 1000 islands. It is Australia's least populated state, with 569,825 residents as of December 2021. The state capital and largest city is Hobart, with around 40 percent of the population living in the Greater Hobart area. The main island was inhabited by Aboriginal peoples for up to 40,000 years before British colonization. It is thought that Aboriginal Tasmanians became separated from the mainland Aboriginal groups about 11,700 years ago, after rising sea levels formed Bass Strait. The island was permanently settled by Europeans in 1803 as a penal settlement of the British Empire to prevent claims to the land by the First French Empire during the Napoleonic Wars.