LAUNCESTON (lahn'ston) a city in the north-east of Tasmania at a point where the confluence of two river systems (Macquarie and Esk) forms the Tamar, a "drowned valley" which leads out, as a fairly broad but tortuous estuary some 41 m. long, upon the north coast. The town is most picturesquely situated on low and originally marshy ground, which lies amid stream-cut hills of romantic charm. At the natural drainage centre of a radial system of valleys, which are mostly roomy and nearly all fertile, Launceston is the outlet of a productive agricultural and fruit-growing (mainly apple) area, its climate also being very favourable. (Av. ann. temps.: F ay. ann. rain fall: 28 in. evenly distributed.) Its position on Bass Strait and opposite Melbourne is commercially advantageous and Launceston has aspirations as a port, tempered by the somewhat imperfect navigability of its water-approach for vessels of over 5,000 tons. The city (founded c. i8o5, was proclaimed a city in 1888; pop.
with suburbs, c. 27,000, second largest in Tasmania), is well laid out and substantially built, possesses numerous open spaces, an electricity supply, and other amenities which, in co-operation with its position, climate and surroundings make it a favourite tourist and holiday resort. The Mount Bischoff (tin) smelting works, as well as other industries (woollen mills, potteries, etc.) have been in existence here for over 5o years, but the recent (1921-2) augmentation of the electric-power supply (Great Lake Supply scheme : see TASMANIA) has encouraged numerous industries (saw milling and furniture making ; iron and railway engineering works; paint factories, etc.). The annual shipping (of all classes) amounts to some 380,00o tons and the trade to about £4,750,000 (27.6% of the total of Tasmania), of which about Li,000,000 represents overseas (i.e., extra-Commonwealth) trade. Exports are mainly agricultural produce, wool and fruit (apples).