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Stepping out of the shadow of their commonwealth history, confident Australians are recognizing all their roots and building a vibrant, outward-looking society.

Deployed to Europe, Africa, and Asia during the course of the Second World War, the Australian Imperial Forces played an especially crucial role in the Pacific War from 1942 until 1945. The long-term effects of the war saw an increase to the country’s industrial capacity and allowed Australia to forge itself a place in the Asian markets immediately following the war. The country’s economic and demographic growth profoundly changed the face of its urban areas, which required much new infrastructure to serve the needs of the population.

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In the aftermath of the Second World War, political life in the Commonwealth of Australia was dominated at the federal level by Robert Menzies of the Liberal Party. In office from 1949 until 1966 without interruption, he formed a long-term partnership with the United States to fight the rise of communism in Southeast Asia. The country was also involved in the foundation of the United Nations, holding the presidency of the General Assembly and helping to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Domestically, the country led a large-scale policy to populate its territories throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Driven by the principle of “populate or perish” promoted by Augustus Caldwell, the federal government actively encouraged nearly 2.5 million people to immigrate to Australia from Europe and the Middle-East. Accompanied by a high birth rate, this allowed the population to double between 1946 and 1976, growing from 7.5 to 14 million inhabitants. Australia’s high demographic growth was concentrated mainly in the conurbations of southeastern Australia, which resulted in a substantial increase in the size of its urban areas. To meet the needs of this population and to increase farming yields, a series of sixteen dams and seven power plants were constructed in the Australian Alps. These projects involved upward of 100,000 workers between 1949 and 1972.

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The building of the capital, Canberra, was decided in 1908, its location chosen as a compromise between the two largest Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne. The seat of federal government since 1927, Canberra was entirely built to plan and was extensively developed in the 1950s.