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Australia’s original name is not Asthralaya; its name originated from the Latin word “Australis”, which means “southern”

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Multiple posts (here, here) have been shared on social media which claim that Australia was originally called Asthralaya. Factly has also received a request on its WhatsApp tipline number (+91 92470 52470) to verify the authenticity of the claim. Let’s fact-check this claim through this article.

Claim: Australia’s original name originated from Asthralaya.

Fact: According to the national library of Australia, English explorer Matthew Flinders used the name Australia to describe the continent on a map. Australia was called as ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ for centuries. Terra Australis Incognita means ‘unknown Southern land’, Australis is a Latin word meaning Southern. There is no evidence that supports the claim that Australia was once known as ‘Asthralaya’. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.

To know the origins and the history behind the name of Australia, we looked for official government sources. In an article titled ‘How was Australia named?’, the National Library Of Australia wrote that the land in the Southern Hemisphere was known as ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ for centuries. ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ means ‘unknown southern land/ unknown south land’. Australis is a Latin word meaning Southern.

Matthew Flinders who was the first person to circumnavigate the continent, was also the first person to suggest the name ‘Australia’ on a hand drawn map in 1804.

In the introduction to his book ‘A voyage to Terra Australis’, he wrote: ‘Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term, it would have been to convert it into Australia; as being more agreeable to the ear, and as an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth.’  Flinders map/charts accompanied his book are together known as ‘General Chart of Terra Australis or Australia.’  Governor Macquarie of New South Wales was the first person to use the word Australia after he received a copy of Flinders book. By the end of 1820s, the southern continent was commonly referred to as ‘Australia’

We searched the internet with relevant keywords to know more about the claim that Australia was once known as Asthralaya. According to a story by nriafffairs.com, Hindu spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that, during the Mahabharatha period, Australia was known as Asthralaya, which means armoury. A video of him saying this is available on YouTube, which can be watched here. We did not find ‘Asthralaya’ mentioned in any of the official sources of the Australian government which explain how Australia was named.

To sum up, Australia’s original name is not Asthralaya; its name originated from the Latin word “auster”, which means “southern wind.

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