Australia is a huge landmass on the other side of the world fro Europe. A jumbo jet takes about 21 hours to get there! It is in the southern hemisphere between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, about
11,250 miles away. Being the only large piece
of land in the continent of Australasia it is sometimes considered a continent
itself. Together with the State of Tasmania, it is the world's smallest
It is almost as big as the USA, and is about 25 times bigger than Britain and Ireland. It is also flattest, the driest and the lowest of all continents – its average height above sea level is only
300 metres, while the
average height for the rest of the world is 700 metres.
It is a land of great contrasts. Its climate ranges from hot and tropical in the north, to cool and wet in the south. The inland region is called the outback, a huge dry area where cattle and sheep graze, and wild animals such as kangaroos and emus live.
Very few people live there and life is very isolated. Some of the farms are larger than a small European country, and are several hours drive from the nearest town. In North Queensland some small parts are so wet that rain forests grow. In the south-east of the country, there is an area of alpine country with snow-covered mountains in winter.
Australia is a great wine country and exports all over the world. South Australia is the centre for high quality reds.
along the North Queensland coast is the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral
reef in the world.
A popular attraction in the Central Desert is Ayers Rock, the world’s largest rock. It is a single stone with a circumference of
8 kilometres, famous
for its beautiful colour changes from sunrise to sunset.
Australia is a parliamentary democracy, and it is also a federation of six states that form the Commonwealth of Australia. It has a Federal Government plus six separate State Governments. Queen Elizabeth II is also the Queen of Australia and is represented by a Governor-General and by a Governor in each state. Many Australians, however, like their country to become a republic.
Facts about Australia
Language: the official language is English, spoken with a distinctive Australian accent.
Money: 1the official money is the Australian dollar. 1 dollar = 100 cents.
Size: 7,682,300 sq. km.
Some things Australia is famous for: surfing, beer, sheep, dreamtime, eucalyptus, barbecues, didgeridoos, kangaroos, Aborigine art, wine, coral, koalas, boomerangs, Christmas in the summer.
Capital city: Canberra, the only major city not on the coast.
Major cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane,
Population: About twenty-three million people. Despite its very low population density, two people per square km, Australia is one of the world’s most urbanized countries. Over 85 per cent of the population live in big cities along the coast in the temperate parts of the country. The five largest cities contain 60 per cent of the population. Some people live in rote areas and they do not even have a telephone, communicating with the rest of the world by radio.
Wildlife: Australian plants, animals and birds are unique because the continent has been isolated for so long. Among them is the koala (one of the symbols of the country), the kookaburra, (very large bird with a noisy call), the platypus and the kangaroo, another Australian symbol.
The first Australians: Aborigines were the first inhabitants of Australia and came from the north by boat between 25,000 and 40,000 years ago. For many years they had little contact with other cultures. A few thousand still live traditionally by hunting and living together in tribes. Many have moved to cities, and although are professionals, many are poor and isolated from their own, and white society.
Source: Excursion, an old Italian book.