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Cardano is a blockchain platform that was created by IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong) in 2015. It is built on a unique architecture that separates the settlement layer from the control layer, which allows for a more flexible and scalable system. The settlement layer, called the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL), is responsible for handling transactions and managing the cryptocurrency, ADA. The control layer, called the Cardano Computation Layer (CCL), is responsible for running smart contracts and decentralized applications (dapps).

One of the key features of Cardano is its use of a consensus algorithm called Ouroboros, which is a proof-of-stake (PoS) algorithm. Unlike proof-of-work (PoW) algorithms, such as the one used by Bitcoin, where miners compete to solve complex mathematical problems in order to validate transactions, Ouroboros allows stakeholders to validate transactions based on the amount of ADA they hold. This not only makes the network more energy-efficient, but also allows for a more decentralized system where small holders can participate in the validation process.

Cardano also places a strong emphasis on security and sustainability. It uses a formal verification process, which mathematically proves the correctness of smart contracts and dapps, making them less susceptible to bugs and vulnerabilities. Additionally, Cardano has a governance model that allows for community-driven decision making, which allows for a more transparent and decentralized system.

In addition to its core features, Cardano aims to provide a platform for financial inclusion by offering services such as peer-to-peer transactions, micropayments, and other financial services to individuals and communities who are currently underserved by traditional financial systems.

Overall, Cardano is a blockchain platform that aims to provide a secure, sustainable, and inclusive system for the development of decentralized applications and smart contracts. Its unique architecture and consensus algorithm, along with its emphasis on security and sustainability, sets it apart from other blockchain platforms.