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Basic facts about Australia

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Australia is the smallest continent in the world. It is also the 6th largest country in the world, after Russia, Canada, China, USA, and Brazil.

There are over 20 million people living in Australia. Australia is divided into six states and two territories. The capital city is Canberra, which is in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

  Key Facts More Info
Official Name Commonwealth of Australia Member of the British Commonwealth
Capital City Canberra  
Main Cities Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Darwin.  
Area 7,682,300 sq. km  
Climate Ranges from tropical to temperate. Most of Australia is arid land or desert. The extreme north is tropical; the southeast and southwest more mediterranean.
Population 21,575,341  
Ethinic Makeup Nationals from over 140 countries. Predominantly European descent. 40% of population are immigrants or children of immigrants; 25% were born overseas.
Language English Aboriginal and other languages are spoken at home and are available in government offices, banks, shops, etc.
Government Democratic Federal system comprising six states and two territories. The states are: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania. The territories are the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Eletricity 240 volts Three pronged plugs used. Adaptors needed for overseas appliances.
Telephone Australia's country code is 61. State area codes are NSW & ACT: 02; VIC & TAS: 03; SA, WA & NT: 08; QLD: 07
Currency Australian Dollar  
Time Difference Australia has three time zones. Western: GMT +8 hrs Central:GMT +9.5 hrs Eastern:GMT +10hrs


A little description of the geography

Australia is an island with most of its population living around its coastline. The coastline has many beaches and reefs that are popular with surfers and divers such as the Great Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach and Surfers Paradise. The centre of Australia is mostly desert with very little water. The famous Ayres Rock or Uluru is found here and is a popular tourist attraction.

The Australian Alps are on the south-east side of Australia. The highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko is a great place to go during the summer for hiking and skiing during the winter months.

In the North of Australia you can find rainforests and warmer weather as it is close to the tropics. The Daintree Rainforest is famous for its beauty and hiking trails.

Australia has a long history of farming and crop growing. In the outback, there are many farms that grow rice, wheat, and many vegetables. There are also many dairy and cattle farms that produce milk and beef for local use and to send overseas.


How is the weather?

Australian seasons are the reverse of the Europeans but the same of the Latin Americans. The summer months in Australia are from December to February and the Autumn months are during March till May. Winter is from June to August with Spring in Australia from September till November.

Queensland and the Northern Territory are located closer to the tropics and generally have warmer and humid weather all year round. New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Perth all experience the four seasons during the year. In Tasmania, the weather is colder than the rest of Australia because it is closer to Antarctica.


How many people live there?

Australia has about 21 million people, with the main population living in the South-East and East of Australia. 70 % of Australia’s population live less than one hour from the coast.  Australians love the beach and surfing. They have a wonderful relaxed lifestyle.

(at end Jun 2008) 
  % (km2) %  (thousands)
Western Australia (WA) 33.0 2 529 875 9.9 2 163.2
Queensland (QLD) 22.5 1 730 648 19.8 4 279.4
Northern Territory (NT) 17.5 1 349 129 9.9 219.9
South Australia (SA) 12.7 983 482 9.9 1 601.8
New South Wales (NSW) 10.4 800 642 32.9 6 967.2
Victoria (VIC) 9.9 227 416 24.8 5 297.6
Tasmania (TAS) 9.9 68 401 9.9 498.2
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) < 1 2 358 9.9 344.2
AUSTRALIA - 7 692 024  - 21 374.0


Culture and life style - What is to be an Australian?

Australia is a multicultural country. People from around the world have migrated to Australia for many years and have brought with them their culture and wonderful food.

In Australia, the main language is English and the official currency is the Australian dollar (AU$).


A bit of history

Australia was firstly discovered by a Dutch explorer who named it New Holland. The Dutch explorer did not think the land was very interesting and did not explore it any further. It wasn’t until 1770 when Captain James Cook came and started using and exploring the land that he renamed it ‘New England’.

After 18 years, prisoners were sent to Australia from Britain to be used as a convict colony. Because there were so many prisoners, the land from the coast to the Blue Mountains was not enough and they needed to search for more land to fit them. This was when the first started to explore the other side of the Blue Mountains.

Between 1851 and 1852, goldfields were discovered in Victoria and New South Wales. This discovery attracted thousands of people that came to Australia to try their luck at finding gold.

In 1901, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia was started. The parliament was established as a federation of six states and two territories.

Canberra was chosen as the capital of Australia as they could not decide between Sydney and Melbourne. 


Did you know?

There are more than 40 millions of kangaroos in Australia now.This is more than the total population of Australia!
We have more sheep than kangaroos! There are about 140 million sheep. That's why Australia is worldwide famous for their wool quality.
Australia has the longest fence in the world. The fence is called the ‘Dingo Fence’ and is 5,531 kilometres long! The fence is only 1.8 meters tall with no gaps. It runs through the middle of Queensland and was built to protect the sheep from the dingo, an Australia dog
In Western Australia, they have the longest straight road in the world. It is 148 kilometres long!

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