In 1834 the South Australian Association, with the aid of such figures as George Grote, William Molesworth and the Duke of Wellington persuaded British Parliament to pass the South Australia Colonisation Act 1834. The Act stated that 802,511 square kilometres would be allotted to the colony and to be convict-free. The plan for the colony to be the ideal embodiment of the best qualities of British society, that is, no religious discrimination or unemployment. The province and its capital were named prior to settlement. The Act further specified that it was to be self-sufficient; ?20,000 surety had to be created and ?35,000 worth of land had to be sold in the new colony before any settlement was permitted. These conditions were fulfilled by the close of 1835.
While New South Wales, Tasmania and (although not initially) Western Australia were established as convict settlements, the founders of South Australia had a vision for a colony with political and religious freedoms, together with opportunities for wealth through business and pastoral investments. The South Australia Act  reflected these desires and included a promise of representative government when the population reached 50,000 people. South Australia thus became the only colony authorised by an Act of Parliament, and which was intended to be developed at no cost to the British government. Transportation of convicts was forbidden, and 'poor Emigrants', assisted by an Emigration Fund, were required to bring their families with them. Significantly, the Letters Patent enabling the South Australia Act 1834 included a guarantee of the rights of 'any Aboriginal Natives' and their descendants to lands they 'now actually occupied or enjoyed'.
The western and eastern boundaries of the colony were set at 132° and 141° East of Greenwich, and to the north at the Tropic of Capricorn, (23° 26′ South). The western and eastern boundary points were chosen as they marked the extent of coastline first surveyed by Matthew Flinders in 1802 (Nicolas Baudin's priority being ignored).
On 1 January 1901, following a proclamation by Queen Victoria, South Australia ceased to be a self-governing colony and became a state of the Commonwealth of Australia.