Australasia

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Regions of Oceania. New Zealand is considered as part both of Australasia and of Polynesia. Varying amounts of Melanesia (traditionally all of it) also count as part of Australasia. Oceanias Regions.png
Regions of Oceania. New Zealand is considered as part both of Australasia and of Polynesia. Varying amounts of Melanesia (traditionally all of it) also count as part of Australasia.

Australasia, a region of Oceania, comprises Australia, New Zealand, neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean and, sometimes, the island of New Guinea (which is more often considered to be part of Melanesia). Charles de Brosses coined the term (as French Australasie) in Histoire des navigations aux terres australes [1] (1756). He derived it from the Latin for "south of Asia" and differentiated the area from Polynesia (to the east) and the southeast Pacific (Magellanica). [2] The bulk of Australasia sits on the Indo-Australian Plate, together with India.

In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics, human impact characteristics, and the interaction of humanity and the environment. Geographic regions and sub-regions are mostly described by their imprecisely defined, and sometimes transitory boundaries, except in human geography, where jurisdiction areas such as national borders are defined in law.

Oceania geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia

Oceania is a geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the eastern and western hemispheres, Oceania covers an area of 8,525,989 square kilometres (3,291,903 sq mi) and has a population of 40 million. Situated in the southeast of the Asia-Pacific region, Oceania, when compared to continental regions, is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

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Physical geography

Australasia LocationAustralasia.png
Australasia

Physiographically, Australasia includes New Zealand, Australia (including Tasmania), and Melanesia: Papua New Guinea and neighbouring islands north and east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. The designation is sometimes applied to all the lands and islands of the Pacific Ocean lying between the equator and latitude 47° south. Papua New Guinea also includes approximately 600 offshore islands.

Physical geography The study of processes and patterns in the natural environment

Physical geography is one of the two major sub-fields of geography. Physical geography is the branch of natural science which deals with the study of processes and patterns in the natural environment like the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere, as opposed to the cultural or built environment, the domain of human geography.

New Zealand Constitutional monarchy in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Tasmania island state of Australia

Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of around 526,700 as of March 2018. Just over forty percent of the population resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Hobart.

Most of Australasia lies on the southern portion of the Indo-Australian Plate, flanked by the Indian Ocean to the west and the Southern Ocean to the south. Peripheral territories lie on the Eurasian Plate to the northwest, the Philippine Plate to the north, and in the Pacific Ocean – including numerous marginal seas – atop the Pacific Plate to the north and east.

Indo-Australian Plate A major tectonic plate formed by the fusion of the Indian and Australian plates

The Indo-Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate that includes the continent of Australia and surrounding ocean, and extends northwest to include the Indian subcontinent and adjacent waters. It was formed by the fusion of Indian and Australian plates approximately 43 million years ago.

Indian Ocean The ocean between Africa, Asia, Australia and Antarctica (or the Southern Ocean)

The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering 70,560,000 km2 (27,240,000 sq mi). It is bounded by Asia on the north, on the west by Africa, on the east by Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean or, depending on definition, by Antarctica.

Southern Ocean The ocean around Antarctica

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean or the Austral Ocean, and the "Southern Icy Ocean".</ref> comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, it is regarded as the fourth-largest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean. This ocean zone is where cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer subantarctic waters.

Human geography

Geopolitically, Australasia sometimes refers to Australia and New Zealand together in the absence of another word limited to those two countries; however, the two countries are sometimes referred to collectively as the Antipodes. Sometimes the term also encompasses the island of New Guinea (Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian part of the island). Many organisations whose names include the prefix "[Royal] Australasian Society of ..." limit their scope of operation to just Australia and New Zealand.

Geopolitics is the study of the effects of geography on politics and international relations. While geopolitics usually refers to countries and relations between them, it may also focus on two other kinds of states: de facto independent states with limited international recognition and; relations between sub-national geopolitical entities, such as the federated states that make up a federation, confederation or a quasi-federal system.

Papua New Guinea constitutional monarchy in Oceania

Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is an Oceanian country that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Indonesia Republic in Southeast Asia

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is the world's largest island country, with more than seventeen thousand islands, and at 1,904,569 square kilometres, the 14th largest by land area and the 7th largest in combined sea and land area. With over 261 million people, it is the world's 4th most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim-majority country. Java, the world's most populous island, contains more than half of the country's population.

The 1908-12 Australasian Olympic Flag Flag of Australasian team for Olympic games.svg
The 1908–12 Australasian Olympic Flag

In the past, Australasia has been used as a name for combined Australia/New Zealand sporting teams. Examples include tennis between 1905 and 1915, when New Zealand and Australia combined to compete in the Davis Cup international tournament, and at the Olympic Games of 1908 and 1912.

Tennis ball sport with racket and net

Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent's court. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Davis Cup annual international team competition in mens tennis

The Davis Cup is the premier international team event in men's tennis. It is run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and is contested annually between teams from competing countries in a knock-out format. It is described by the organisers as the "World Cup of Tennis", and the winners are referred to as the World Champion team. The competition began in 1900 as a challenge between Great Britain and the United States. By 2016, 135 nations entered teams into the competition. The most successful countries over the history of the tournament are the United States and Australia. The present champions are Croatia, who beat France to win their second title in 2018.

Summer Olympic Games international multi-sport event

The Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad, first held in 1896, is a major international multi-sport event held once every four years. The most recent Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) organises the Games and oversees the host city's preparations. In each Olympic event, gold medals are awarded for first place, silver medals are awarded for second place, and bronze medals are awarded for third place; this tradition began in 1904. The Winter Olympic Games were created due to the success of the Summer Olympics.

Anthropologists, although disagreeing on details, generally support theories that call for a Southeastern Asian origin of indigenous island peoples in Australasia and neighbouring subregions. The first human habitation of Australia is estimated to have occurred 50,000 or more years ago. These first Australians were the ancestors of the Aboriginal Australians, who form the majority of today's indigenous Australians. They were mostly hunter-gatherers and arrived via land bridges and short sea-crossings from present-day Southeast Asia.

An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of various aspects of humans within past and present societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology, and philosophical anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life, while economic anthropology studies human economic behavior. Biological (physical), forensic, and medical anthropology study the biological development of humans, the application of biological anthropology in a legal setting, and the study of diseases and their impacts on humans over time, respectively.

Southeast Asia Subregion of Asia

Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of Japan, Korea and China, east of India, west of Papua New Guinea, and north of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. The region is the only part of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere, although the majority of it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:

  1. Mainland Southeast Asia, also known historically as Indochina, comprising parts of Eastern India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and West Malaysia.
  2. Maritime Southeast Asia, also known historically as Nusantara, the East Indies and Malay Archipelago, comprises the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Indonesia, East Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Taiwan is also included in this grouping by many anthropologists.
Aboriginal Australians term used to refer to some groups of Indigenous Australians

Aboriginal Australian is a collective term for all the indigenous peoples from the Australian mainland and Tasmania. This group contains many separate cultures that have developed in the various environments of Australia for more than 50,000 years. These peoples have a broadly shared, though complex, genetic history, but it is only in the last two hundred years that they have been defined and started to self identify as a single group. The exact definition of the term Aboriginal Australian has changed over time and place, with the importance of family lineage, self identification and community acceptance all being of varying importance. In the past Aboriginal Australians also lived over large sections of the continental shelf and were isolated on many of the smaller offshore islands, once the land was inundated at the start of the inter-glacial. However, they are distinct from the Torres Strait Islander people, despite extensive cultural exchange.

Ecological geography

Wallace Line separates Australasian and Southeast Asian fauna. Linea de Wallace.jpg
Wallace Line separates Australasian and Southeast Asian fauna.
Lake Pukaki looking to the Southern Alps of New Zealand Tasman Valley - Aoraki Mount Cook - Canterbury.jpg
Lake Pukaki looking to the Southern Alps of New Zealand

From an ecological perspective the Australasia ecozone forms a distinct region with a common geologic and evolutionary history and a great many unique flora and fauna. In this context, Australasia is limited to Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and neighbouring islands, including the Indonesian islands from Lombok and Sulawesi eastward. The Wallace Line marks the biological divide from the Indomalaya ecozone of tropical AsiaBorneo and Bali lie on the western, Asian side.

Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia are all fragments of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, the marks of which are still visible in the Christmas Island Seamount Province and other geophysical entities. These three land masses have been separated from other continents, and from one another, for millions of years. All of Australasia shares the Antarctic flora, although the northern, tropical islands also share many plants with Southeast Asia.

Mainland Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania are separated from one another by shallow continental shelves, and were linked together when the sea level was lower during the Ice Ages. They share a similar fauna which includes marsupial and monotreme mammals and ratite birds. Eucalypts are the predominant trees in much of Australia and New Guinea. New Zealand has no extant native land mammals aside from bats (though it once did), but also had ratite birds, including the kiwi and the extinct moa. The Australasia ecozone includes some nearby island groups, like Wallacea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, which were not formerly part of Gondwana, but which share many characteristic plants and animals with Australasia.

The Australasian ecozone is an ecological region that is coincident, but not synonymous (by some definitions), with the geographic region of Australasia. The ecozone includes Australia, the island of New Guinea (including Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian province of Papua), and the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, including the island of Sulawesi, the Maluku islands (the Indonesian provinces of Maluku and North Maluku) and islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores and Timor, often known as the Lesser Sundas. The Australasian ecozone also includes several Pacific island groups, including the Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia. New Zealand and its surrounding islands are a distinctive sub-region of the Australasian ecozone. The rest of Indonesia is part of the Indomalayan ecozone.

From a biological point of view, Australasia is a distinct region with a common evolutionary history and a great many unique plants and animals, some of them common to the entire area, others specific to particular parts but sharing a common ancestry. The long isolation of Australasia from other continents allowed it to evolve relatively independently, which makes it home to many unique families of plants and animals.

Australia and New Guinea are distinguished by their marsupial mammals, including kangaroos, possums, and wombats. The last remaining monotreme mammals, the echidnas and the platypus, are endemic to Australasia. Prior to the arrival of humans about 50,000 years ago, only about one-third of Australasian mammal species were placental.

The boundary between Australasia and Indomalaya follows the Wallace Line, named after the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace who noted the differences in mammal and bird fauna between the islands either side of the line. The Islands to the west of the line, including Java, Bali, Borneo, and the Philippines share a similar fauna with East Asia, including tigers, rhinoceros, and apes. During the ice ages, sea levels were lower, exposing the continental shelf that links these islands to one another and to Asia, and allowed Asian land animals to inhabit these islands. Similarly, Australia and New Guinea are linked by a shallow continental shelf, and were linked by a land bridge during the ice ages. A group of Australasian islands east of the Wallace Line, including Sulawesi, Halmahera, Lombok, Flores, Sumba, Sumbawa, and Timor, is separated by deep water from both the southeast Asian continental shelf and the Australia-New Guinea continental shelf. These islands are called Wallacea, and contain relatively few Australian or Asian mammals. While most land mammals found it difficult to cross the Wallace Line, many plant, bird, and reptile species were better able to make the crossing.

Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia are all portions of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, which started to break into smaller continents in the Cretaceous era, 130-65 million years ago. New Zealand broke away first, more than 80 million years ago, and Australia finally broke free from Antarctica about 45 million years ago. All the Australasian lands are home to the Antarctic flora, descended from the flora of southern Gondwana, including the coniferous podocarps and Araucaria pines, and the broadleafed southern beech ( Nothofagus ), and proteas ( Proteaceae ).

As Australia moved north into the desert latitudes, the continent became hotter and drier, and the soils poorer and leached of nutrients, causing the old Antarctic flora to retreat to the humid corners of the continent in favor of new drought and fire tolerant flora, dominated by the Eucalyptus, Casuarina, and Acacia trees, and by grasses and scrub where the rainfall was too scarce to support trees. Presently Australia is the smallest continent, and also the driest continent and the flattest (lowest in elevation) continent.

See also

Notes

  1. de Brosses, Charles (1756). Histoire des navigations aux terres Australes. Contenant ce que l'on sçait des moeurs & des productions des contrées découvertes jusqu'à ce jour; & où il est traité de l'utilité d'y faire de plus amples découvertes, & des moyens d'y former un établissement [History of voyages to the Southern Lands. Containing what is known concerning the customes and products of the countries so far discovered; and treating of the usefulness of making broader discoveries there, and of the means of setting up an establishment there] (in French). Paris: Durand. Retrieved 2013-12-08.
  2. Douglas, Bronwen (2014). Science, Voyages, and Encounters in Oceania, 1511-1850. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 6.

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The Lombok Strait, is a strait connecting the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean, and is located between the islands of Bali and Lombok in Indonesia. The Gili Islands are on the Lombok side.

Biogeographic realm broadest biogeographic division of the Earths land surface

A biogeographic realm or ecozone is the broadest biogeographic division of the Earth's land surface, based on distributional patterns of terrestrial organisms. They are subdivided in ecoregions, which are classified in biomes or habitat types.

Indomalayan realm one of the Earths eight ecozones

The Indomalayan realm is one of the eight biogeographic realms. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia.

Australasian realm one of the Earths eight ecozones

The Australasian realm is a biogeographic realm that is coincident, but not synonymous, with the geographical region of Australasia. The realm includes Australia, the island of New Guinea, and the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, including the island of Sulawesi, the Moluccan islands and islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, and Timor, often known as the Lesser Sundas. The Australasian realm also includes several Pacific island groups, including the Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia. New Zealand and its surrounding islands are a distinctive sub-region of the Australasian realm. The rest of Indonesia is part of the Indomalayan realm.

Wallace Line faunal boundary line separating the ecozones of Asia and Wallacea, a transitional zone between Asia and Australia

The Wallace Line or Wallace's Line is a faunal boundary line drawn in 1859 by the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and named by English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, that separates the ecozones of Asia and Wallacea, a transitional zone between Asia and Australia. West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species; to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. Wallace noticed this clear division during his travels through the East Indies in the 19th century.

Malesia

Malesia is a biogeographical region straddling the Equator and the boundaries of the Indomalaya ecozone and Australasia ecozone, and also a phytogeographical floristic region in the Paleotropical Kingdom. It has been given different definitions. The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions split off Papuasia in its 2001 version.

Malay Archipelago archipelago between mainland Southeast Asia and Australia

The Malay Archipelago is the archipelago between mainland Indochina and Australia. It has also been called the Malay World, Indo-Australian Archipelago, East Indies, Nusantara, Spices Archipelago, and other names over time. The name was taken from the 19th-century European concept of a Malay race, later based on the distribution of Austronesian languages.

Aru Islands Regency Regency in Maluku, Indonesia

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Wallacea biogeographical designation for a group of mainly Indonesian islands separated by deep-water straits from the Asian and Australian continental shelves

Wallacea is a biogeographical designation for a group of mainly Indonesian islands separated by deep-water straits from the Asian and Australian continental shelves. Wallacea includes Sulawesi, the largest island in the group, as well as Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Halmahera, Buru, Seram, and many smaller islands.

Australian Plate A major tectonic plate, originally a part of the ancient continent of Gondwana

The Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate in the eastern and, largely, southern hemispheres. Originally a part of the ancient continent of Gondwana, Australia remained connected to India and Antarctica until approximately 100 million years ago when India broke away and began moving north. Australia and Antarctica began rifting 85 million years ago and completely separated roughly 45 million years ago. The Australian plate later fused with the adjacent Indian Plate beneath the Indian Ocean to form a single Indo-Australian Plate. However, recent studies suggest that the two plates have once again split apart and have been separate plates for at least 3 million years and likely longer. The Australian plate includes the continent of Australia, including Tasmania, as well portions of New Guinea, New Zealand, and the Indian Ocean basin.

New Caledonia rain forests

The New Caledonia rain forests are a terrestrial ecoregion, located in New Caledonia in the South Pacific. It is a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion, part of the Australasia ecozone.

Fauna of Indonesia

The fauna of Indonesia is characterised by high levels of biodiversity and endemicity due to its distribution over a vast tropical archipelago. Indonesia divides into two ecological regions; western Indonesia which is more influenced by Asian fauna, and the east which is more influenced by Australasian species.

Flora of Indonesia

The flora consists of many unique varieties of tropical plants. Blessed with a tropical climate and around 17,000 islands, Indonesia is a nation with the second largest biodiversity in the world. The flora of Indonesia reflects an intermingling of Asian, Australian and the native species. This is due to the geography of Indonesia, located between two continents. The archipelago consists of a variety of regions from the tropical rain forests of the northern lowlands and the seasonal forests of the southern lowlands through the hill and mountain vegetation, to subalpine shrub vegetation. Having the second longest shoreline in the world, Indonesia also has many regions of swamps and coastal vegetation. Combined together, these all give rise to a huge vegetational biodiversity. There are about 28,000 species of flowering plants in Indonesia, consisting 2500 different kinds of orchids, 6000 traditional medicinal plants used as Jamu., 122 species of bamboo, over 350 species of rattan and 400 species of Dipterocarpus, including ebony, sandalwood and teakwood. Indonesia is also home to some unusual species such as carnivorous plants. One exceptional species is known as Rafflesia arnoldi, named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and Dr. Thomas Arnold, who discovered the flower in the depths of Bengkulu, southwest Sumatra. This parasitic plant has a large flower, does not produce leaves and grow on a certain liana on the rain forest floor. Another unusual plant is Amorphophallus titanum from Sumatra. Numerous species of insect trapping pitcher plants can also be found in Borneo, Sumatra, and other islands of the Indonesian archipelago.

Continental crustal fragments, partially synonymous with microcontinents, are fragments of continents that have been broken off from main continental masses forming distinct islands, often several hundred kilometers from their place of origin. All continents are fragments; the terms "continental fragment" and "microcontinent" are usually restricted to those smaller than Australia, due to Australia being the smallest continent. They are not known to contain a craton or fragment of a craton. Continental fragments include some seamounts and underwater plateaus.

The Central Indo-Pacific is a biogeographic region of the Earth's seas, comprising the tropical waters of the western Pacific Ocean, the eastern Indian Ocean, and the connecting seas.

Australia (continent) Continent on the Earths Southern and Eastern Hemispheres

The continent of Australia, sometimes known in technical contexts by the names Sahul, Australinea or Meganesia to distinguish it from the country of Australia, consists of the land masses which sit on Australia's continental plate. This includes mainland Australia, Tasmania, and the island of New Guinea. Situated in the geographical region of Oceania, it is the smallest of the seven traditional continents in the English conception.

New Guinea Island in the Pacific Ocean

New Guinea is a large island separated by a shallow sea from the rest of the Australian continent. It is the world's second-largest, after Greenland, covering a land area of 785,753 km2 (303,381 sq mi), and the largest wholly or partly within the Southern Hemisphere and Oceania.

Demographics of Oceania

Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania vary, with it being defined in various ways, often geopolitically or geographically. In the geopolitical conception used by the United Nations, International Olympic Committee, and many atlases, the Oceanic region includes Australia and the nations of the Pacific from Papua New Guinea east, but not the Malay Archipelago or Indonesian New Guinea. The term is sometimes used more specifically to denote Australasia as a geographic continent, or biogeographically as a synonym for either the Australasian ecozone or the Pacific ecozone.

References

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