State), northeastern Australia. Area: 668,207 sq mi (1,730,648 sq km). Pop. (2008 est.): 4,279,400. Capital: Brisbane. It is bounded to the north by the Pacific Ocean and the Great Barrier Reef. Its coastal region, the most tropical part of Australia, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988; it is a major tourist attraction. Inland from the Great Dividing Range, which runs the entire length of the state, mining and cattle ranching are important. Capt. James Cook charted the coast in 1770. In the 19th century the state housed several penal colonies and drew settlers to mine its gold. It became a constituent state in 1901 when the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed.